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 LITHUANIA
Coach: Steven Hall
About me: Got into coffee back in 2011, but found the true passion for it once moved over to London in 2012. Worked at Harris + Hoole, growing speciality coffee chain in United Kingdom. Now part of Caravan, leading speciality coffee shop/roastery in London. Grew up with two older brothers, so a total tomboy. Not spoiled, but quite stubborn and stick to my opinion, if I know I’m right. Love hosting parties or just having people over because I get to make breakfast—the best part of the day! Have you ever tried cereal or PJ sandwich for dinner? Breakfast makes me happy. Can’t imagine my life without books. Reading is my other passion that feeds the soul. The best part of my job is the people, coffee people to be precise. Starting with fellows baristas, roasters, going to the farmers. Everyone that’s involved with coffee seems to be very positive and joyful—an amazing community all over the world.
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 becoming a barista I used to volunteer in an orphanage.
How did you get started in coffee?
After school decided to take a gap year and to try myself as a barista because I was always fascinated with their work culture/type.
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
My first coffee in London from speciality coffee shop “Taylor Street Baristas” that literally smelled like flowers.
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
Ieva (Eve) Malijauskaite, 2013 Lithuanian Latte Art Champion (14th in the world). She was the one who hired and trained me. With her partner, who won Lithuanian Barista Championship in 2011, she opened a high quality coffee roastery (Taste Map) and now are slowly revolutionizing the coffee world in Lithuania.
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
More investment into farming education and higher pays for the speciality coffee producers – it’s the core of our industry after all.
Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
Sonja Bjork Grant—her devotion to educating the coffee world is a great inspiration
Name a barista you admire, and why:
Estelle Bright—girl power all the way! She’s the first coffee lady in UK and is a great example to everyone that thinks coffee is not for girls.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
Let’s just go on a coffee tour, one can’t be choosey.
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Ethiopia, where the legend began.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
Books and baking.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Traveling around the coffee producing countries working towards producing better quality coffee for the speciality market.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
Dennis Tutbury—my first trainer, who helped me to win my first national championship. He never gave up on me; carried me, when I wanted to give up; just always was there for me.