Our Barista Champions: Honoka Kawashima 2023

As we move towards 2024 and the return of regional barista events we want to acknowledge and celebrate the past and the people that were part of the journey in New Zealand. We asked our past champions about their journey in coffee competitions in NZ to help inspire the competitive baristas and coffee community of 2024.

Where and when did you start in coffee? My coffee journey started in 2016 at coffee school in Sydney, Australia where I learned the basics of making coffee. I fell in love with coffee there, then I decided to continue to learn coffee as my career. So I moved to Wellington, New Zealand in 2018 and luckily I found a specialty coffee job.

When did you first start to compete? I started to compete in 2019 and since then I have competed in some different categories: Latte Art, Aeropress, and Barista. When I decided to continue my career as a barista, I set some goals for myself to develop my skills. Competitions gave me a lot of challenge, learning, and connection to many enthusiastic baristas. 

What have you learned along the way? There are so many things that I learned by competing, but if I pick the two most important things that I learned besides the knowledge are: if I work hard and never give up, it will pay off, and putting in effort will never be a waste of your time. And the importance of the coffee community and friends. I have received massive support from many of my barista and non-barista friends along the journey, and I’m very grateful for that. I couldn’t achieve this without their support.

What is your motivation, what do you want to achieve? My motivation is mainly from my lovely customers at my work, Frank’s Coffee. They have been so supportive and willing to hear what I’m doing and that’s where I got lots of energy from. So I would like to keep learning and keep making the coffee they like, and share my experience. 

Most memorable experience so far as a champion? The moment when my name’s called as a champion, and an applause from the audience. I will probably never forget the moment. 

Who’s helped/helped you along the way? There have been soooo many people who have supported me in the competition, and honestly, I couldn’t achieve what I got without their support. 

Especially Logan Collinge from Hammerstone Coffee/ Mojo who has been spending a huge amount of time on me until now. I wouldn’t have even been in the top 6 without his support. Dove Chen helped me on the competition day and having him in my team was a massive part of my winning. Frank has been supported a lot and his different perspective gave me a big improvement.

Where are you now? I’m at Frank’s Newtown, in Wellington, and practise a lot for the WBC 2024 coming months:)

Honoka’s interview with Stuff

Principal Sponsor Meadow Fresh interview Honoka

Member company All Good interview’s Honoka 

Honoka’s interview with The Post 

The cups that Honoka used:

NZBC | Honoka Kawashima