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We reached out to each of the 2015 World Barista Championship competitors prior to their routines, to learn a bit more about them as competitors and coffee pros. We hope you enjoy these interviews!
Name: Ishan Natalie
Company: TriBeCa Coffee Company
Country: South Africa
Number of years as a barista: 14
Number of competitions competed in: 11
South African Barista Championship: 2nd (2007), 2nd (2008), 1st (2009), 1st (2010), 2nd (2011), 2nd (2014), 1st (2015)
World Barista Championship: 34th (2010), 36th (2011)
All African Barista Challenge: 1st (2010), 1st (2015)
Competition Coffee: Heirloom Geisha from Gesha Village Coffee Estate in Ethiopia.
Signature Beverage: Cranberry and cherry juice, lime peel, and a homemade Earl Grey tea syrup. The exact amounts aren’t set for now. It all depends on how the coffee reacts in Seattle.
Secret Weapon: The coffee itself.
Routine Theme: Don’t judge a book by its cover…
Total Practice Hours: I‘ve had a lot of challenges leading up to the WBC, so not as many as I would have hoped. Probably 200+. My coffee arrived late, and our country is struggling with a power outage problem, which has left me ‘in the dark’ a lot.
Coach/Coaches: Last year’s South African Barista Champion Craig Charity. He’s a phenomenal guy and friend! And Matt Carter, a colleague and close friend who knows me better than most people.
Fashion: Just my apron… and jeans and a shirt. I want to stay true to myself and be comfortable.
Additional Notes: Coffee has been my career and my life. I got into this at a very early age and have made a lot of sacrifices in the belief that it would be a success. I love people but am very shy, just an all round quiet guy that loves spending time with friends and family. My second passion is food. I was actually meant to enter Master Chef, but the qualifier round fell on the same day as the South African Barista Championship qualifier, so I made a choice (clearly the right one). I love talking coffee and sharing knowledge with baristas and avid coffee fanatics. I have been blessed with a career that I love to my soul as well as with many accomplishments. I believe firmly that it is my duty to pass that on and to share it with others. I always say “I love what I do and I do what I love!”
Why do you think you’d make a great World Barista Champion?
I enjoy testing theories on how things have worked in the past and how I can make them better, if possible. I see too many baristas bent on doing it ‘according to set guidelines in a book’ rather than working with and understanding a product as diverse and variable as coffee. I want to help baristas understand coffee better and how to extract coffee best; it’s so subjective and every coffee has a range of variables that influence what we taste. Rules are meant to be tested and tweaked for better delivery, and that’s what I enjoy.