Editor’s note: As we approach the beginning of the 2014 World Barista Championship, which takes place in Rimini, Italy, June 9–12, at the SCAE’s World of Coffee event, we would like to introduce you to the National Barista Champions who all worked incredibly hard to earn a position in this preeminent coffee contest. Profiles of all 54 competitors will appear on Barista Magazine’s blog between Monday, June 2, and Monday, June 9, and can all be accessed under the category header “WBC 2014 Rimini.”
BARISTA CHAMPION OF NORWAY
Coach: Preben Oosterhof
About you: I grew up in a small town with 500 inhabitants in the northern part of Norway. If you have ever been a tourist in Norway you probably tried to get to Nordkapp. And if you did, you probably passed by my home town, because the main road to the north is basically the most important thing that happens there. My parents ran the local gas-station. I started working there when I was 7. That’s where I got spoon-fed the customer service side of my profession as a barista. Later I tried to make it as a musician. I played bass and trumpet. I try to implement the progression of self development I learned from playing music into my barista development. Listening to tapes of rehearsal is like tasting my brews, always looking to improve them. Detailed focus on technique and attention to details is common to music and coffee as ways to greaten the experience. I got into coffee by coincidence. After a failed music project, I really needed a job and I was drawn to coffee by the enthusiasm of the local coffee shop Dromedar. I competed in the World Brewers Cup in Vienna in 2012 and placed 2nd in the Norwegian Brewers Cup in 2013 and 2014, and also 2nd in the national AeroPress Championship this year.
How many years have you worked with coffee or in the coffee industry?
How did you get started in coffee?
By coincidence. After a failed music project I really needed a job and I was drawn to coffee by the enthusiasm of the local coffeeshop Dromedar.
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
I can’t remember the specific moment, but I do know that it was when I tasted a Kenyan coffee. I was blown away by the juiciness and the acidity, I had no idea coffee could be this way.
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
I live in a small town in the middle of Norway, and there aren’t really that many baristas and coffeeshops. Dromedar where I work is considered to be the best in town, so I tend to search on the internet and when traveling. I experiment a lot at home and I read a lot on different blogs like jimseven, theotherblackstuff, and dublinbarista. I guess I’d have to say James Hoffmann’s curious and humble approach to coffee. I’m also excited about the way Tim Wendelboe does his thing in his pursuit of raising coffee quality.
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
James Hoffmann for his curiosity and enthusiasm.
Name a barista you admire, and why:
Colin Harmon for the way he does his competition routines and the way he always focuses on customer experience.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
I think my favorite customer is the one that doesn’t like coffee. They just haven’t tasted good coffee yet. They’ve got a clean, more delicate palate, untainted by bad coffee.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
My favorite cafe is Java in Oslo.
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Colombia. I’m using a Finca Tamana in the competition, so I’d love to visit that farm. I’ve gotten to know the process on the farm really well in the process of making my routine and I’d love to get my hands dirty there.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
I really like getting to know new music, and working in a coffee-shop I get the opportunity to listen to a lot of music. I love cross-country skiing. Living in Norway where its really cold and no sun in the winter, so skiing is what you need to do to make it through the winter.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’m starting on a business education this year so I hope to be done with that. As a barista it’s hard to say. I feel like I’ve progressed and the coffee industry as well the past 5 years, that’s what’s so exciting working as a barista, things are changing so you have to pay attention to keep up. Maybe I’ll start my own place some day.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
I’d have to thank my significant other Tone for pushing me to do better and supporting me while spending so much time at home and at work, tasting and talking about coffee. She’s a great taster and gives me bullshit-free feedback . She’s grown into speciality coffee alongside me almost with the same amount of enthusiasm as me .