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 IRELAND
Coach: Yann Chalmers
About me: My name is Pete I’m currently the head roaster for 3fe where I’ve been working pretty much since 2011, I’ve done everything in the company starting as barista to working in the kitchen to becoming the manager of the cafe until I got the chance to open the roastery at the end of last year. This is my second year competing where I managed to come third in 2012.
How many years have you worked in the coffee industry?
3 and a half years.
Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?
I worked as a chef for nearly 10 years in a number of roles all around the world.
How did you get started in coffee?
I discovered 3fe as a customer and quickly became one of those customers that asks lots of questions and wants to try as many different coffees as they can. And one day Colin asked if I wanted a job and here we are over 3 years later.
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
I think it has to be getting the chance to travel to HasBean and learn to roast with Steve (Leighton) and the rest of the team over there. Getting to work with so many different coffees and to be able to learn off a lot of talented people was really amazing.
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
Can I pick two? Colin (Harmon) and Steve (Leighton). Colin for getting me to understand that the idea of change is positive thing and nothing to be scared of; I’ve never worked anywhere [where] change is so welcome because there is a want to be better and progress. And Steve because his passion is so infectious; I swear ever time I talk to him I come away loving coffee even more.
Name a coffee luminary you would like to meet?
Oh, it has to be Gwilym Davies—he just looks so friendly.
Name a barista you admire, and why?
Charles Babinski. I just enjoy talking to him and when you see him work, it’s just nice to see someone who enjoys the interaction between customer and barista so much. For him the experience is so much more than just what’s in the cup.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
Well, these days I working in the roastery, but when I was on bar it would have to be “Yirgacheffe Man.” We later found out he had a real name but all he wanted to [drink] was Yirgacheffe. And back then this was very exciting as the tastes of Dublin were moving towards more exciting and better coffees. We never did bother using his real name.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
I’m going to say G&B in Grand Central Market, firstly hands down the best coffee I been served in the past 12 months. But just their approach to every aspect of the cafe is great. The energy they put into cupping and recording samples just to see what’s good enough to serve on bar is truly impressive. And then there is the milkshakes; it’s true what they say: Charles Babinski’s milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Oh, a hard one but I’m going to pick two. Nicaragua and El Salvador, not only because these are the two countries [whose coffees I] most look forward to every year but in my recent experiences some of the experiments I’ve seen and tasted from some of the producers have been so interesting. I’d just love to go and see how and why they make the decisions they do—just pick the farmers’ brains.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
Well, from my past life as a chef, cooking and food is a massive passion of mine and lately I’ve been enjoying getting involved with a few pop-up dinners around the city. I also love to make things even though it’s just an excuse to play with power tools even though anybody who knows me would say this is not a good thing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t make these types of goals for myself anymore. I think if I did maybe I wouldn’t be working in coffee right now as it would never have fit into any 5 year plan I had.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
Yann of course for putting his life on hold to coach me, and effectively replacing his girlfriend with me for the past 6 weeks. Also Colin for helping and Steve for finding amazing coffee. I know how valuable their time is and I’m pretty damn grateful for everything they have done for me.