We wanted to get to know the final 16 for the Malaysian Barista Championship this weekend. (see our previous post) We dropped an email trying to get to know more about them, their side interests and also, a sneak peak as to what to expect during their routines. 1-4 here, 5-8 here, and 9-12 here. Here are the final four:
No. 13 Wong Syia Ying, 26 of WA cafe, Pavillion KL, first worked at a small cafe just selling cakes and coffee. It was there, where she fell in love with coffee. Now, at her current workplace, she gets to try different freshly roasted coffees and seeing regular customers return is what keeps her going. Cooking and baking are her hobbies and she also does water sports. She will be using beans roasted by Kato san, their shop’s coffee roaster. Those who have been to Dotz Cafe, Kota Kemuning or La Casa would have tasted coffee from this roaster before.
With a Japanese Roaster, Kato-san and a Japanese trainer, Masa Aoki by her side, what can we expect from Wong?
No. 14 Nona, 24, of Artisan Roast TTDI (AR TTDI), needs not much introduction for regulars of AR TTDI, which has been nominated and won best place for coffee in the past. She has worked there for the past two years, starting from zero on coffee. There’s always something new to explore in coffee, controlling things like the water temperature, technique, different paper filters and more and this is what keeps her going. A self-professed coffee-geek, she feels honoured to be surrounded by different people that are drawn towards coffee. Fun fact? She has seven cats! She will naturally be using coffee from her shop’s roaster.
All we can say here is… um… Cat Power! And well, Artisan Roast TTDI is the ‘spiritual home’ of many baristas in the industry, so it will be interesting to see the support behind Nona at MBC itself!
No. 15 (Keith) Koay ZiZheng, 22 of VCR, KL, starting by drinking a lot of coffee and it was latte art that ultimately drew him in. So, he worked part-time at a coffee chain in his final year of his Bachelor’s of Accounting and Finance degree. It’s the community in coffee and the scope of coffee brings that keeps Keith’s interest in coffee. When asked about his hobbies, Keith says he has no time for anything else but coffee. His choice for his roaster is Notes Coffee, London where he had a memorable coffee he tried from them while travelling in London.
A brave choice to choose a roaster over 10,000KM away, will the judges be blown away by Keith’s coffee as he was by his roaster’s?
No. 16 Heng Xin Min, 22, of THIRDWAVE Cafe, Bangsar South, converted to coffee from a Ethiopian Yirgacheffe ice drip coffee from iKopi when he was 17. (Some quick history, iKopi is one of the oldest Taiwanese style cafes in KL and has since closed down but its canopy can still be seen above Moontree House along Jalan Theatre. It’s co-owners have since moved on to other cafe ventures after its closure) After that ice drip, there was no turning back for Min and he has been in the industry for 4.5 years. He loves the customer interaction in the job, sharing about coffee with them. He also bakes for THIRDWAVE and is very much your average guy who plays DOTA and Clash of Clans in his free time. He will reveal his roaster on stage as he will be the last contestant of the day on Saturday. (6.45pm)
THIRDWAVE and its team have been on a fun PR campaign with the hashtag “#MinIsNotLansi”, lan-si or not (the other Malaysian slang word for that is ak-si or in plain english, arrogant), does Min have the goods to take home the prize?
We hope you’ve enjoyed this short but sweet coverage on the competitors as much as we have had writing/editing this piece! We wish all 16 the best for this weekend!
This series of posts have been arranged to match the order of the competitors going up on stage. We will try to update as much as we can here on the blog, on twitter, facebook and maybe even Instagram. The hashtag a few of us are using is “2015MBC”. See you there at Chin Woo Stadium!
P.S. Tomorrow we will be posting a cheat sheet of terms in coffee to help you through the day if you don’t know what’s going on!
Pictures and answers were provided by competitors and have been edited for clarity and length. Words by Joachim L.. Picture edit by Shean Tan. We will also be launching a new version of our digital map next month for CafeHopMY (formerly CafeHopKL) featuring cafes around Malaysia, so, stay tuned!