26 Jan 2015

DLA2015 Finalists: Who is Maryse van der Hak?

The Dutch Latte Art Championships 2015 finals. Six baristas will compete against each other, each of them hoping they will be good enough to go on to the World Latte Art Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The pre rounds are just behind us. So who is our top six? How do they see coffee? And what will they bring to the Latte Art Finals during the Amsterdam Coffee Festival?

Photo by Vinni Zwaan @wetthefilter blog

works at: Freelance Barista

Who is your coffee inspiration?

Everybody in the coffee business. I learn more every day, just by chatting about coffee. Plus I get inspired by enthusiastic people and their coffee experiences.

Who taught you latte art?

I taught myself. When I started working as a barista and found out about Latte Art, I forced myself to keep practising. I watched a lot of YouTube movies and kept trying and trying. When I finally learnt how to make rosseta’s and hearts, I went to my first Latte Art throw down.  There I got the assignment to make a 4 leafed tulip, which I knew i could not do. I tried to make one with my very shaky hands. And well.. it was a four leafed tulip, it just did not look the way it  should, haha. From that moment on I forced myself to learn how to pour a four leafed tulip and now, 3 years later, I am finally able to pour a four leafed tulip… and even a tulip with a lot more leafs...and many more different other patterns.. But I still challenge myself to keep practising and create new patterns every day.

If you walk into a coffeebar that you have not been before and you want to assess the quality level, what do you look for? And what do you order? And why?

I order a cappuccino, try to stay close to the barista and watch every move. But I mostly listen to the sound of the milk during frothing, to get a good impression of the quality level of the milk. When I get my cappuccino i analyse it by looking and tasting, and of course I’d expect to see some latte art. But although I judge the coffee, I always appreciate the effort put in by the barista. We all know it isn’t easy and it’s never to late to learn and get better.

Do you order coffee when you know it will be bad, or do you then skip the coffee and order something else?

I skip it. A good cup of coffee makes me happy. So why order some when I know I will be disappointed?

What is your favourite brew method?

I prefer the Aeropress, but I like all of the slow coffee brewing methods.

How do you brew coffee at home?

Because the amount of coffee that I drink during a workday and my wish to still have a good night sleep, I don’t drink a lot of coffee at home. However I am planning to buy an Aeropress to get myself through my days off.

If people ask you what they should buy for making coffee at home, what do you suggest they buy? Why?

Definitely a grinder and fresh beans! I always try to convince people to pay some more money for good freshly roasted beans, because they will definitely taste the difference. It’s just like they say right? Once you go fresh, you’ll never go back.

What is the best coffee you had this year?

Mexico Oaxaca, a very rich coffee with a good bite.

Where (coffee related) do you still want to go?

When I graduate my studies I want to visit as much coffee plantations as possible. I’m really looking forward to getting close to the process of the coffee from plant to bean and really learn the differences between coffees from different places and farms.

Do you take coffee and coffee brew methods with you when travelling? If so, what do you bring?

I am kind of a workaholic so I haven’t been on a trip for years and when I am it’s for work so we’ll have the espresso machine with us. But I think I would bring an Aeropress or a different Slow Coffee method.

What is the worst coffee you ever had?

All of the Lavazza machine coffee I drank during my internship.

And finally some questions about latte art and the Dutch Championships. What is the most important variable (coffee, grind, pitcher, milk, etc) for latte art and why?

I guess all of the above! A good shot of espresso is the base. A good grind creates a solid crema, what you'll need for contrast. The most important variable would always be the  milk; the right amount of foam and temperature of the milk. Poured with your own favourite pitcher will result in some beautiful patterns… eventually…after a lot of practise...

Why do you think you placed for the finals of the DLA? What did you do to achieve this?

Well...probably not because of my shaky hands or the swearing haha [For those who were not there, Maryse broke out in some swear words on stage, after nerves got the better of her. None the less, her figures were pretty much bang on]. I learnt a lot since my participation last year,  so I came very well prepared and poured two patterns  I was very confident about. Despite the nerves, I still managed to get the figures in the cup, sort of good. But i think a good preparation is the most important part, well begun is half done. And of course a lot of practise.

What are you looking forward to the most now that you placed for the finals of the DLA?

All the new people I’ll meet during the Amsterdam Coffee Festival. And of course to the new patterns I’ll develop for the finals. It’s nice to keep challenging yourself.

How are you going to prepare yourself for the finals? 

Practise, practise, practise and throw a lot of coffee through the sink.

Who is your biggest competition this year?

I think my own nerves are my biggest competition. It’s hard to pour steady when your nervous. Other than that I think everyone is competition. You never know which patterns they are going to make. Plus, you only get just one chance in ten minutes. We will see who wins, but I’m thrilled to be in the finals next to these five competitors.

Anything you would like to add?

Does anybody have a medicine for shaky hands?

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Do you want to read about the other finalists? Read about BelleRobLennartNick and Joep.

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