The Amsterdam Coffee Festival will crown a new Dutch Barista Champion. Who will get to represent the Netherlands in Dublin during the World Barista Competition? Introducing second finalist Wendelien Verver (Single Estate Coffee Roasters).
How did you prepare for the barista competition preliminary rounds?
First of all I travelled to origin, to Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica, learning about processing and such. Then I just started practising behind the machine, and tasting dozens of different roast of my coffee, until it was perfect.
How did you choose a coffee bean?
I had decided that I wanted to use one of Jose Antonio Salaverria's coffees. It was one of the coffees on a cupping table in El Salvador, amongst 200 other coffees. Obviously this was really, really hard, because most of the coffees on the table were excellent.
How did you develop your milk based drink?
First of all I tasted all combinations of milk with my coffee, but I decided to stick with what I know and love; a cappuccino. Also, I believe that it's incredibly difficult to make a good cappuccino, so it's shows skill. Never change a winning formula.
How did you develop your signature drink?
I asked a chef to taste my coffee and asked him what he tasted. The first tasting notes that he came up with were the ones that I worked with: creamy mouthfeel, sweet and blackberry.
How do you feel about the change from cappuccino to a milk based drink and did you use this change to your advantage?
As I mentioned earlier; I think it's really hard to make a really good cappuccino. I think changing the rules makes it even a bigger challenge for the judges to score the drink. So I think the biggest challenge is going to be for them, not the barista, judging all these different type milk drinks. The change in the rules is definitely going to make for a more interesting competition, because you'll get to see more of the personal taste of the barista.
What is the hardest part about competing or preparing to compete?
Definitely controlling your nerves. I'm a very competitive person, so I put a lot of pressure on myself which isn't very helpful most of the time. I tend to stress out because I want to get all the details right.
What is the easiest part?
Drinking the huge amount of coffee with the people that help me so much.
How are you going to make sure you win the national finals?
I'm making sure I really understand what I can do better from my score sheets from the pre rounds, because I believe it's silly to make the same mistake twice. Also, I'll be working with an amazing coffee and an even more amazing bunch of people, that will hopefully bring me to Dublin.
Anything you would like to add?
One of the things I love most about barista competitions is the comradery backstage. It doesn't matter where you work, how long you've been a barista or even what your gender is (well... let's save that one for another time). I wish the other finalists all the luck in preparing for these finals, and may the best barista win and represent us in Dublin in 2016.
Read the other interviews with the finalists of the Dutch Barista Competition.