Give us a quick rundown of your coffee career. Ten years ago, I was starting as a cafe FOH/Cleaner in this industry.
Ten years later, I am on the road to competing in the world latte art championship, representing New Zealand.
To summarise what I’ve done in the last 10 years,
“No great thing is suddenly created, success comes with patience and dedication.”
You’re no stranger to the Latte Art scene, tell us about your other placings. In 2019, I placed 7th in the latte art national championship. The year after, I was placed 2nd in NZLAC. These experiences not only taught me to be a professional barista but also pushed me to bring new latte art concepts to the table.
Do you think success is training or natural ability? I do believe success comes with hard work and training. I remember when I was preparing for my first championship, I usually finished work at 4 pm. Then, I went home for dinner and took a nap. At 6 pm, I will come back to the cafe training until 10 pm. Repeat it for two months.
When people ask me, why am I not shaking my hands when I am on stage. My answer is my nerve was desensitized from the training, I’ve trained my body into muscle memory.
What do you do to practice for the Meadow Fresh NZ Latte Art 2022? This year, my practice routine has slightly changed. I first started sketching out my latte art patterns on a piece of paper. Repetitively, I have the pattern pasted into my brain’s memory. In the practice, I would repeat the same movement over and over again until I think it was the result that I wanted.
The audience let out a noticeable gasp when you created “Stitch” in the coffee. Who or what is your inspiration? About the “Stitch” pattern, I was searching for Mulan’s dragon on YouTube to get some inspiration for my first dragon pattern. Then, I found Stitch in the search list. I thought it would be fascinating to create a pour-like “stitch”, which is combined with the free-pour technique and etching technique.
Been to Taipei before? My family and I are originally from Taiwan. I’ve been to Taipei multiple times. The last time I went back to Taiwan was four years ago, it would be a completely different city now. In my childhood memory, I really liked going to all the shopping malls in Taipei and exploring different street food and night markets there.
What are you looking forward to seeing the most? Who do you admire most in coffee? My number one coffee hero would be Irvine from Malaysia, 103 coffee. He is a legendary artist that creates incredible designs all over Instagram. I remember in 2018 when he did the hornbill and the monkey on the stage. He made it look so simple and easy. This would be a perfect chance to meet him in person. Hopefully, I have time to learn from this legend.
What advice do you have for others thinking of entering: For those who are thinking of entering the Championship next year, my advice is to always follow your heart. If you think of something that is really cool/amazing, pour it. Don’t be shy, share it with all the New Zealand baristas.
Anyone you wish to thank: Lastly, I really want to say a big thank you to the Grey Street Kitchen team! So many years of support, training, and tears. You guys deserved a big round of applause. I definitely have the best team and the boss in my career. I appreciated the opportunities to be able to work here. This is the cafe that made me who I am today.
Thanks to Yuki for our incredible photos. Good luck for Taipei, Dennis!