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.
No 1. First up, we have Pua Jia Jian, 23, of Brew and Bread. His story begins when Brew and Bread’s origin story; they converted an abandoned neighbourhood steakhouse into a cafe (now, roastery as well). His original impression that coffee should be bitter with a long aftertaste changed after having a cup of Kenya Kirimhaga being brewed on V60. It tasted like Ribena to him and made him start this pursuit of coffee to know more, from crop to cup. Formerly a gym-goer, this competition has forced him to focus more time in the roastery and behind the bar.
No 2. Next up we have Edward Choo Siew Ming, 28, of Cafe Barbera. A Motor Vehicle enthusiast (Favourite car? Nissan GTR), he also has experience with both coffee and roasting machines. Back in University, he started his affair with 3in1 coffee before getting an espresso machine to make latte art at home. Now, with two years in the industry, he will be competing this Saturday with beans roasted by a well-established Malaysian roaster. This unnamed roaster has Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) accreditation under his/her belt and roasts coffee to bring out the full flavours of the coffee.
No 3. For Low Haw Nan, 20, of Possible Coffee House, it all started when a girl showed him a Hello Kitty latte art. He promised to pour that latte art pattern for her one day. The rest, as they say, is history. His romance with coffee started from latte art to grinding, dosing, tamping, frothing milk and service with a smile. In his spare time, he plays basketball and volleyball. For the competition, he will be using beans roasted by Yu Tack Yuen, a Q Grader* and also the founder of Q Cup Coffee Lab in Malaysia.
No. 4 Jason Lum, 22, of Classic Coffee and Beverage, fresh off his win as champion of the Battle of Baristas Championship (BOBC) in Penang last year. He is not your average barista, working for a distributor company for the last year, giving him the opportunity to learn the technical aspects of brewing coffee and setting up of coffee bars. For him, baristas unlock the final potential of the coffee before serving it. In his free time, he takes part in marathons and loves to travel. He will reveal his roaster on stage during his MBC2015 routine.
We’ll be back the next few days to get to know the other MBC 2015 competitors.
*Q Grader = A Q grader is someone who has trained and qualified to grade high quality (specialty) after scoring it by tasting the coffee. For more info, see http://coffeeinstitute.org/the-q-coffee-system/overview
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!