Honoka Kawashima FOURTH IN THE WORLD!!!!

We are beyond proud to announce that Honoka Kawashima, our Aotearoa NZ Barista Champion of 2023 and talented barista from Frank’s Coffee in Wellington, has achieved an incredible fourth place in the prestigious World Barista Championship held this 1-4 May in Busan, South Korea.

Competing amongst 60 other national competitors to make it to the final day has been a behemoth effort at the World of Coffee Asia hosted at BEXCO Centre.

Originally from Tokyo, Honoka’s coffee journey is one of passion and precision. Her approach to coffee is straightforward yet intricate, mirroring the art of origami, which she beautifully integrates into her presentation. Her routine perfectly blends simplicity and complexity—a philosophy that coffee doesn’t have to be complicated to be beautiful. As the emcee said, “Your routine is youthful and delightful, and brightens my day”.

Honoka chose to use a special coffee at the competition: the Maragesha, a naturally processed Gesha/Maragogype hybrid from Finca Villa Betulia in Huila, Colombia, grown by Luis Anibal at 1,500 meters above sea level. “This coffee embodies the fusion of two worlds,” as noted by Carlos Arcila of Cofinet, the coffee importer.

Her coffee, roasted by Frank Hsu of Frank’s Coffee using an infrared roaster was rested for 30 days.  Despite initial challenges after arriving in Busan, the coffee developed beautifully, a testament to its quality and Frank’s meticulous roasting process.

So why origami? “Origami represents the unfolding of something simple into something extraordinary, much like the experience of enjoying coffee,” explained Honoka. Her favorite pattern, a simple heart, symbolizes her love for coffee and the connections it fosters among people.

The Competition Drinks

Honoka’s choice of serving order was strategically planned to ease the judges into the complexity of flavors:

  1. Milk Course: A mix of 90% high-fat cow’s milk and 10% almond milk, creating flavors of chocolate brownie, shortbread, and a raisin aftertaste.
  2. Signature Drink: A vibrant blend of orange, red apple, and strawberry infusions with tomato water and distilled almond milk, rounded out with a tea/fructose syrup, offering layers of rock melon, sour plum, and ginger ale.
  3. Espresso Course: A 19.5g dose yielding a 50g espresso, flash-chilled and stirred to perfection, providing notes of pink grapefruit, pineapple, and hibiscus, celebrated for its medium body and silky texture.

During each round, the judges completed an origami fold, creating a heart. Honoka shared her gratitude for the overwhelming support from New Zealand and her team. Logan Collinge, her coach said, “The journey here has been a roller coaster.” Honoka said: “The love and encouragement from everyone have made this experience unforgettable.”

Throughout her journey in Busan, Honoka has demonstrated her incredible skills as a barista and her capacity for growth and connection. “I’ve learned so much and met so many people,” Honoka reflects, overwhelmed by the support that has flooded in from across New Zealand and beyond. “We’re all in this together, and the encouragement has really lifted my spirits. I’m not scared; I feel cheered on by everyone.”

This vibrant network of support and the new friendships formed at the championship exemplify the community spirit that coffee—much like origami—fosters among people from diverse backgrounds. Honoka is deeply grateful for the experiences shared: “I appreciate everyone who has been part of this journey. It’s been more than just about coffee; it’s been about building relationships and sharing our passions.”

Her experience in Busan is a testament to how the love for coffee, like a simple piece of paper in origami, can unfold into something truly extraordinary, creating beautiful and lasting impressions.

Her husband Nico Tsubasa said through loving tears, “Happy wife, happy life” and we felt the love.

You are a world champion to us Honoka!

See Honoka’s performance here>

Images thanks to SCA