It was a one time chance for me to hear how three Barista Champions got themselves involved in the Specialty Coffee, and it was a great seminar to attend. "Confessions of a Champion Barista" included Bronwen Serna (USBC 2004), Tim Wendelboe (WBC 2004) and Fritz Storm (WBC 2002). It was interesting hearing their personal stories of how they got the passion for that perfect, world class cup of espresso.
Serna has been a barista for about four years and she has come a long way in such a short time! She won the 2004 United States Barista Championship in Atlanta, facing stiff competition. She started drinking coffee in her college years and for a while was a regular at Starbucks. I was amazed the she admitted to that, since I have noticed certain stigma attached to Starbucks at this show, especially amongst the elite of the Third Wave.
I did like her statement that Starbucks has opened the doors to the cafe culture in North America. Working at her current position at Hines Public Market in Seattle allows Bronwen to combine her passion for coffee and working with good, knowledgeable people in the coffee business.
Fritz Storm has been involved with coffee scene for over ten years. This 2002 World Barista Champion and accountant by profession is not only a top barista but also a coffee lecturer, trainer and consultant. Since becoming the World Champion he has been spending a lot of time away from him native Denmark being involved with competitions and training. Coffee has become part of Fritz's life and he has been finding it way more stimulating than doing Accounts Receivable. He has two beautiful sons and a wonderful wife back in Denmark.
The last year's World Barista Champion, Tim Wendlboe from Norway, shared with us the story of how he got into coffee: by fluke. Back in 1998, straight out of high school and working at a grocery store, Tim has been looking around for another job and after applying all over the town he got hired at a small coffee shop. Soon enough he was fascinated by the whole process of growing, roasting and brewing coffee. Being a self described perfectionist, he started looking for different ways of making exceptional coffee.
I watched with pleasure the passion all of the three presenters share for coffee and I will be interested following their careers, either as contestants or judges in the future competitions.