Wellington's Milk Wizard Winner – Tait Burge

The final round of the Wellington Milk Wizard event saw Guild Member Robbie Whyte of Peoples Coffee up against Tait Burge from Goldmine By Lamason, who are a Peoples Coffee account.  It was a tense moment as the judges could not decide between some super crisp art so the competitors were asked to re-pour their designs as piccolos!  We interviewed the winner Tait on his coffee journey so far.
What is your first coffee memory?
First memory of coffee was when my mate and I went to a cafe when we were 13 and ordered an espresso. Let’s just say that drinking an espresso when you’re 13 for the first time is a definite shock to the system! Would not recommend!
How did you get started in coffee?
I got into coffee when my college was offering coffee courses at school, I did quite well at it and went hunting for some entry-level cafe jobs, with no success. I decided to do the Gateway programme in my last year at school and Mojo coffee down at the waterfront said they’d have me one day a week for the term. After the first week, I got offered a job!
Talk us through a typical day at work.
Well it all starts at the crack of Dawn, the spirit awakens and once it is awake, there is no stopping the craziness ahead! My day involves a lot of banter both between staff and the customers, while also serving up beautiful coffee all day. I like to call the day a day of controlled chaos.
What are your interests outside coffee?
I am very interested in coastal conservation, I’m involved with a group called Shelly Bay Rangers and we look after a trap line around the Bay to keep the pests away from the penguins. I also love ball sports so I try and get involved with that, and music is important to me so listening and learning is fun as well.
Anyone you would like to thank or recognise?
I would like to do a big shout out to the original Lamason Brew Bar crew, Dan and Jaya. Together I think we have formed unmatchable customer service and banter. I would also like to thank Alan Bruce.  Alan and I competed in the Barista Championships when we were at Mojo. He taught me all things specialty coffee and how to present in front of a crowd. Dave Lamason has taught me a crazy amount about how cafes work and how to run a successful company, and for that, I’m stoked to have been working alongside him for the last three years.
What is the most unusual vessel you have poured latte art into?
It’s hard to say but I’ve poured a few avocado flat whites which are interesting.
Have you entered any other latte art competitions before?
I entered the Peoples Coffee throw down, which I’m happy to say I came a solid last in, so this is my first real latte art competition I’ve been in!
What’s your secret to pouring great latte art?
Using organic milk is up there for me, as it makes lovely silky milk. Also, the less you move the jug when steaming, the better the milk will be.  And also just practice, pouring over and over, setting small goals as well. You’ve got to understand what the milk is doing when you pour it onto the coffee!
Any tips for someone starting out?
Find someone who is awesome at making coffee and listen and learn and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully, I would have set up a cafe and be pumping out beautiful coffees every day! That’s the dream.
Is there anyone in coffee who particularly inspires you? Why?
Matt Lamason is quite the inspiration because although other coffee companies have come out and expanded massively, Matt and Peoples Coffee have stuck to it and have not compromised their ethics in order to expand.
That teaches me that if you have a vision, you don’t need to change it in order to achieve success.
When we called into see Tait, his Milk Wizard Trophy jug was getting some great use!
We encourage all milk wizards to enter the Meadow Fresh New Zealand Latte Art here>