Member Profile – David Huang – World Barista Champion Judge

Event Date: 15th December, 2017

Guild Committee Member, David Huang answers our questions about stepping up to judge at the World Barista Championship 2017.

David Huang, tell us about your background in the New Zealand Specialty Coffee competitions?

I have been involved in the competition since 2002, after reading an article about a barista from Nelson representing New Zealand for the World Barista Championship (WBC). Since then, I completed between 2002-2010, then made the switch to judging in 2011.
I have been judging as both a sensory judge in the New Zealand Barista Championship and as a visual judge in the Latte Art Championship. I have been certified World Barista Sensory Judge since 2013.

What finally inspired you to make the leap into judging at the Worlds?

Competing as a barista allows you to understand and push your limits as a coffee professional. Judging the baristas allows you to then experience someone else pushing their own limits.
The world stage is the gathering point of all the best barista of all cultures and countries, so for me, it is the ultimate inspiration to learn more about specialty coffee.

Why would you recommend becoming a WCE judge?

I gained an insight into the minds of the best baristas and their teams from around the world.  This really helped me to broaden my knowledge and horizon toward specialty coffee.

How did you train to become a WCE judge?

I studied and increased my understanding of the Rules and Regulations. Then I watched video playbacks of the WBC routines, participated in regular cuppings and tasted espresso drinks while using the Rules and Regulations to comment and score. Yes, in my own head instead of speaking out loud!

How do you keep a poker face?

There is no need to keep a real poker face, we are to keep a friendly, welcoming and “be in the moment” attitude without our facial expressions expressing any negative emotion.

Is it some of the best coffee you have ever tasted?

Yeah, very much some of the best. That passionfruit… yum…

Do the judges get nervous? Any tips for getting all the information down onto the score sheets?

Of course, the judges get nervous, at the end of the day, we need to be conscious of what is being presented by the barista, record the experience and score it base on the Rules and Regulations. Well, that is easier said than done.
Essentially, we are on the stage with the barista. Tips for getting information down? Learn the Rules and Regulations, stay in the moment to experience everything and create lots of shorthand to use on stage. Judging in New Zealand and watching videos and learning off other judges really helps.

In the 2013 World Barista Championships, the EK43 was introduced into a performance as an innovative way to grind for espresso, now many cafés use this grinder as standard.  What innovations did you notice during competition in 2017 that could potentially trickle down to the shop floor?

With the introduction of EK43, the understanding around grind size distribution and grind particle consistency really opened up. The freezing of coffee beans, freezing of ground coffee, double grinding, sieving grinds etc are all the result of such understanding. While not all methods are practical in the cafe, it does allow baristas to explore and unlock flavour profile that was previously not accessible.

What’s in the goody bag?

All the goodies that the Sponsors prepare for us. Thank you!

Going to go to Amsterdam?

Yes, most likely. Yet, anything can happen…

Any advice or tips for anyone looking at judging, coaching, volunteering or competing?

Judging in NZBC and then in the WBC makes me appreciate how well organised the New Zealand championship is. We are really lucky and should be really proud of what we have in New Zealand. So, for those of you who are thinking about competing or judging, DO IT, JUST DO IT.David Huang with fellow judges at the World Barista Championship in Seoul, 2017.