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 THE UNITED KINGDOM
Colonna & Smalls
Coach: Lesley Colonna-Dashwood
About you: Co-owner of speciality coffee shop concept in Bath, England, I am constantly enthralled by all aspects of coffee. I enjoy teaching and training within the coffee world and am excited about where speciality coffee is right now and where it’s going. I personally relish the opportunity to present about what excites and interests me in coffee, allowing me to share my passion for this amazing drink. Barista competitions offer an amazing platform for this.
How many years have you worked with coffee or in the coffee industry?
Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?
Before coffee I worked as a portrait artist whilst thoroughly enjoying front of house roles in a variety of businesses from petrol stations to pubs and cinemas.
How did you get started in coffee?
I got started in coffee whilst living and working in Melbourne, Australia. I worked in and really enjoyed the cafe culture in Melbourne, but most importantly I experienced coffee as a culinary product, tasting and recognising coffees’ potential as a flavour product for the first time. I realised that this was speciality coffee, an exciting, flourishing, but also lesser seen side of coffee.
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
My first amazing experience with coffee was whilst I was in Melbourne, and it was a single estate Kenyan coffee that abruptly changed my idea of what coffee could be. It introduced me to a whole world of coffee potential.
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
My greatest influence in coffee would have to be the speciality coffee community, which is comprised of many influential coffee people, often taking part in coffee in very different but equally valuable ways.
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
I would like to see speciality coffees identity and value become stronger and more relatable to consumers.
Name a barista you admire, and why:
Matthew Perger, I’m interested in his processes and how he approaches the barista role. I also think he’s a very good communicator.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
I could not possibly have just one favourite customer. I’m lucky to have a broad engaging customer base that enriches my experience with coffee every day.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
There are lots of places I want to visit with concepts that excite me, such as the G&B stores in LA, as well as Paramount coffee project in Sydney, and it’s got to be awesome to have Tim Wendelboe coffee after a meal at Noma in Oslo.
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Tough question! Id like to visit so many producing countries, some such as El Salvador for varying farms exploration of speciality coffee growing practices and somewhere like Ethiopia for its raw flavour potential.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
My love of coffee crosses over into an interest in all kinds of food, drink and hospitality. I have a passion for film, writing and reading.I like to get away form it all in the gym and to enjoy the company of great people.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Working in coffee, still within a customer facing business like our shop in Bath, but also probably taking part in projects which at the moment I have no idea about.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
So many people, the British speciality coffee scene is developing into something special and I have had generous support from all angles of it.