Dove flies home – we ask the Champion about his journey to Boston

There’re not many things we’ll get up for at 3 am but watching our Meadow Fresh New Zealand Barista Champion perform at the World Barista Championship is one of them. Dove, we are sooo proud. We asked our #ourchenpion about his experience at the WBC Boston 2019:
You won the Meadow Fresh New Zealand Barista Championship in 2017,  how did it feel, taking the New Zealand title again in 2019?
It still feels surreal. Over the past two years, I learned the importance of finding a balanced taste in coffee, as well as the balance of training and resting to maximise productivity.
Tell us about the legal hoops you had to go through to get Meadow Fresh milk into the USA.
It was an easy one with the support from Meadow Fresh. They provided me with a letter about their Export License and the details of the milk. So basically I just need to show the letter to the US custom, but they didn’t ask at all. I guess, they must trust our high-quality kiwi products. =)
You couldn’t have had a better team behind you, did you feel fully prepared for what the competition would be like at the Worlds given that this was your second time competing at this level?
Yes, I was well prepared mentally even I was still refining my routine two days before the competition. My coffee arrived five days before I flew out. However, I was super lucky that I had a world class team behind me. And the most important part is that we all had trust in each other, it made everything easy naturally.
Can Sam Low come and cook at my house?
You may have to ask Sam Low. Haha. I am so grateful that we had Sam Low in our coffee industry. He’s such an inspiration.
What differences did you notice on the level of competitors over the two years?
A lot of new faces (new in WBC, but they were all well seasoned from their national competitions), and the level of passion, knowledge and skill are higher and higher every year. You can tell by their sparkle eyes on the stage and conversation.
Tell us about your favourite part of the performance:
If I had to choose one, It has to be the intro part when I share my kid’s photo and happiness with the judges.
My mentor John Gordon asked a question on my first training, “when the worst thing happened in life, or when you are so frustrated, what can make you smile and happy”.  The answer was my kids.
Anything that you would do differently next time?
If I could do it again, I will focus on extending the prime age of the coffee by different storage. And explore more to achieve a balanced taste in espresso when the external environment changes hugely.
What was the most memorable thing that happened?
The whole journey is memorable for me.
Did you meet other national champions that inspired you with their work? If so, who is your coffee inspiration and what did you learn from them?
Yes, I met and chatted with a lot of them.
They were all super lovely. I was inspired by many of them, The new champion Jooyeon is an example. Her presentation was so strong and her signature drink creativity is next level. Also, she competed in the Korean Barista Championship for the last 10 years. Her determination paid off well.
You are such an inspiration to many baristas, what was the best thing to come out of your experience in terms of personal professional development?
I recently read a short article called “The Power of Tiny Gain”.  Success doesn’t always come from massive action. Most of the time it just comes from being consistent and just showing up. So if we consistently improve 1% in our job and life every day, we are going to be 37 times better than we were at the start.
I learned consistency, and this helped me in my personal development.
The World Barista Championship 2020 is in Melbourne next year, keen to come along and enjoy or up for competing again?
I am so keen to be a part of the Team New Zealand next year, although I can’t cook. Haha.
I need a rest from competitions.
Did you get a chance to see any of the SCA show? If yes, what things stood out?
Yes, there are three things caught my attention.
First, the new mini EK Hoppers. There is a spring on the gate, so may be suitable for a single dose.
Second, the Eversys auto espresso machine. It makes consistent shots, steams great quality milk with the desired depth of foam. What you need to do is pour the milk into espresso. So it’s perfect for restaurants and offices. I think it’s great for drive-throughs or even take away coffees for the cafe because the quality is surprisingly good if the espresso is dialled in properly.
Third, the Furumai auto brewing machine.
Double grinding, removing chaff, and 12 settings to make the best-brewed coffees.
What other cool things did you do in Boston?
Eating Lobsters, they are so cheap and damn tasty over there.
I really wanted to watch an NBA game, but time didn’t allow. So that leaves me an excuse to go back again.
Again, thank you for everything from you, EMW and the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association.
Thanks to you Dove!
The New Zealand Barista Championship for 2020 will take place in April 2020, with the World Barista Championship in Melbourne May 2020.
Photo Credits: Dianne Wang