Welcome to 2024 and the return of regional barista events! We want to acknowledge and celebrate the past and the people who 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? I started when I was 16, part-time while at high school. Got a job at a local café in Hamilton called Hydro Majestic. The days of a doser grinder and bell jugs.
When did you first start to compete? I started to compete in NZBC in 2009 at the Wellington Regionals and then the NZ finals.
What did you learn along the way? A bunch. A lot of the reason why I started to compete was to learn. Back in 2010, there wasn’t much info online, not like there is now, and a lot of what is common practice now didn’t even exist back then. No scales. You would rarely find a café serving single-origin espresso. I learned a lot of valuable skills in the comp that I use every day now. Planning, pulling together a team, storytelling, and public speaking.
What was your motivation, what did you want to achieve? Started off wanting to learn, learn more, and taste new and different coffees. When I find something new that I like I usually hyper-fixate on it and that was me and coffee for the first few years of my journey. Learning was always a part of it but after a few years my competitive nature kicked in and it was about bettering myself and wanting to see if I had what it took to make the WBC.
Most memorable experience as a champion, what did you get out of it? Probable calling time in the 2013 WBC finals at 15:00 on the dot and seeing the crowd pop off. Was pretty cool to see such an engaged and excited community of professionals from around the world all in one place.
Who helped you along the way? My business partners. Richard, Trev, Matt, and Ronak. Beyond that special shutouts to Steve Hall who was there from 2010 – 2013 and Meg Wyper who roasted the coffee for me for the WBC in 2013. In Melbourne 2013 WBC, that’s where we became more friendly with the team from Veneziano, Craig Dickon, Craig Simon, and Jade Jennings. They offered up their training room and space to us. Probably the reason that gave us an edge and got us to the finals. Also, the NZSCA. There were a lot of generous people in the association who took me/us under their wing when we first came onto the scene.
Where are you now? Live in Auckland and I travel between Auckland, Wellington, and Melbourne every month. After our stint in Melbourne 2013 we partnered up with the Veneziano crew and joined our businesses. We were always fans of each other businesses and wanted to work and grow together. My role is now across our NZ and AUS organization as Creative Director.