Jae Ho Shin – Meadow Fresh NZ Barista Championship Best Newcomer and People’s Choice 2021

Jae Ho Shin originally put his name forward for the 2020 Championship, not knowing the changes that were going to happen with a postponement and cancellation. We are incredibly thankful that he, along with all the other competitors, remained committed to compete and congratulate him on his bonus win of Best Newcomer. Presented to the highest-placed barista who has never competed at our championship, Jae Ho will surely be a barista to watch in the future.

What is your current role, what do you do on a daily?
I currently work as a barista and a roaster at Tob Coffee located in Rosedale, Auckland. Pretty much spending a whole day at the cafe, making coffee by day and roasting beans in the evening, with my great teacher Young Jin Cha. Feels like the cafe is my habitat 🙂

When did you start thinking of competing at NZBC?
It was July last year that I decided to compete at NZBC. I was going to compete last year, as I wanted to push myself to a bigger stage and present my passion for coffee. But as you all may know, the competition had been postponed to this year.

How long did you prepare for? What did that look like day today for you?
It was quite tough to prepare for the competition, to be honest. After the competition was postponed, I had to change my whole concepts and had to get new beans for the competition as well. As it was my first time competing at NZBC, several months of time felt like just a few days. When we got new beans, we cupped them at the cafe around 5:30 am before the first customer came in at 6 o’clock in the morning!  Then after making 450 cups of coffee, we talked about themes, competition script, routine, and so on, while roasting beans at the same time, till 8 pm, sometimes past 9 pm.  From a month before the competition, I could only focus on NZBC. Sometimes I was competing on the stage in my dream too.

What were some of the themes you wanted to showcase in your routine?

In the competition, I used a carbonic maceration-washed geisha from Finca Deborah in Panama. The name of this coffee is ‘Epiphany’, which means the appearance of the Saviour. The reason for having such a name is, Jamison, who is the farmer of Finca Deborah, wanted to present his will to cleanse our mouths that are tired of drinking strong coffee all year round.

Besides, I wanted to present the importance of roasting. Because to make the beautiful taste of coffee, successful roasting is necessary. In my routine, I, especially, emphasised the importance that the inside of the coffee beans needs to be roasted sufficiently.

Furthermore, in my Espresso, I wanted to showcase the clean, delicate, and elegant depth of tastes that ‘Epiphany’ has.

For my Milk Beverage, I used Puhoi valley’s organic milk, and I super wanted to express that, it is no doubt that New Zealand produces the finest milk in the world. I am really proud to serve white coffee to our customers in New Zealand, as New Zealand milk is really creamy and buttery, which makes an astonishing match with coffee.

What was your Signature Beverage this year?

The special ingredient in my Signature Beverage is the elderflower cordial I made myself. The dried elderflower heads were marinated with sugar as they were, with lemon and citric acid, and I aged it for 2 weeks. The syrupy sweetness of elderflower, and its deep aroma, when these meet with ‘Epiphany’, the fantastic result is made. You will feel the flavours of orange peels, gingerbread, lychee, and apricot jam 🙂

What’s something that you learned competing that you take into everyday life?
Personally, I have learned a lot of things… I saw the love and passion that all other great baristas brought, and their skills and knowledge amazed me so much. It was a great honor that I competed with them. I could keep myself more humble, and now I keep pushing myself to be a better barista, furthermore to be a better man 🙂

A person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself?

Young Jin Cha is my great teacher. His passion and love for coffee always give me the massive motivation and reason that I can love coffee 🙂 I would like to give words of gratitude to him, for being my teacher and coach for this competition.

We were excited that you won People’s Choice – why do you think people chose you as their favourite barista?
I couldn’t win People’s Choice just by myself. I could win because of our precious friends (I don’t want to say ‘customers’ this time) who give great support and love. This People’s Choice award is not just for myself, but for every single of them as well. The only thing I did and will do is making coffee with warm love towards them.

What do you do for fun?

Several things; Playing guitars, gym, chatting with my mom, and of course, watching Youtube.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank? Additionally, I would like to thank Hayley Lee of Tob Coffee too 🙂 She works as a crucial member of Tob Coffee team. I couldn’t be here without her support too. And also, Yui Park from Ugly Coffee, for being my good friend and great competition partner 🙂 Finally, I want to thank all the competitors, judges, volunteers, staffs, and New Zeland Specialty Coffee Association again for giving me this great opportunity!

Does that mean we will see you back on stage again next year?

I’d love to put more effort into it for the next competition! I can’t wait to see you all again next year 🙂