Our Volunteers

Event Date: 22nd June, 2021

‘Our People’ are many and varied just like coffee itself.

In this feature, we would like to feature our volunteers! These folks help us produce events for our coffee community. This group has to be the most diverse group of people we know of and can come from all walks of life, not just cafes and roasteries. This group’s skill set and willingness to do what needs to be done without the spotlight being shone on them is second to none. They donate any spending hours, energy, and skills before or after the event. We salute you as we couldn’t do this without you all!

Thank you.


Sarah Kennard

Company Suntory Coffee 

What where you in a previous life? I’d like to think I was a turtle, cruising around in warm tropical waters with no-where to be in a hurry.

What is your current role, what do you do on a daily? I’m a Key Account Manager  – I’m the key contact between our larger customers and the rest of the Suntory team, fortunately it involved lots of coffee drinking, unfortunately it involves lots of emails, teams meetings and phone calls, but I love it when I can get back on the coffee machine again. 

What event/events did you volunteer at? I’ve done some cool stuff over the years, I started volunteering in 2012. Mostly the Barista Championships where I started out as a timekeeper and eventually graduated to Stage Manager, I volunteered at the WBC in Melbourne – where I was 2Ic stage manager and got to meet all of the competitors and witnessed Nick Clark taking out 5th – was a very proud kiwi moment. I tried judging in 2014 but that was stressful! My last event was NZBC 2021.

Why do you volunteer? Because I’m not competitive and would never compete,  but want to be involved, I love being part of a team and it’s always fun when the coffee community comes together and if we have skills that are useful and can help, then why not?

What’s one thing that surprised you about volunteering? How much I want to cry happy tears for the competitors, I don’t even know half of them that well, but I still have proud mum moments.

What’s something that your learnt volunteering that you take into everyday life? In a small or a big way, you are helping to develop something, with coffee and the barista champs it’s about developing people – other volunteers, encouraging competitors, making them feel relaxed, at ease and informed. Communication is super important!

Does volunteering inspire you to compete? Ha-ha, no, not for me, but its so cool seeing the young volunteers coming in and so keen to learn more, I’ll continue to encourage them.

What feels important to you in coffee? It’s the ultimate tool for communication, because there’s always a conversation to be have over or after a cup of coffee!

What changes do you want to see in the future of coffee in NZ? Filter Coffee making a big comeback.

Person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself? I have too many heroes – all who have taught/guided me in coffee. But Coffee is the real hero, its what has brought us all together.

How are you brewing at home? I have a Moccamaster – with thermos flask and a little Baratza Sette 270 grinder, it’s got to be freshly ground.

What do you do for fun? I like being out on the trails in Wellington, either running the hills or hiking and my new mountain bike arrives soon – super excited!

What would you be doing on a weekend if you weren’t volunteering for the love of coffee? Lol, boring stuff! Cleaning and grocery shopping, with a run on Sunday morning and family time.

Instagram: sarah_kennard


An Nguyen

Company JDE Coffee

What where you in a previous life? My zodiac is mouse that could be my previous life as I can not sit still – I always need to do or make something. 

What is your current role, what do you do on a daily? Sales rep.

What event/events did you volunteer at? Barista, Latte art, Cup tasters.

Why do you volunteer? I want to be involved in the coffee community, mainly the goodies bag to be honest 🙂

What’s one thing that surprised you about volunteering? Lots of people are not in coffee industry but love to be involved. 

What’s something that your learnt volunteering that you take into everyday life? Be humbled,  pay attention with small details, thinking on your feet.

Does volunteering inspire you to compete? All the time and not all the time as well after seeing all the hard work involved.

What feels important to you in coffee?  Like NOKIA – Connecting people.

What changes do you want to see in the future of coffee in NZ? $5 for sml flattie becomes trendy.

Person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself? Mostly by the product itself. 

How are you brewing at home? Old sunbeam for the family – they hate “sour coffee” btw, batch brew for myself.

What do you do for fun? I like to create drink recipes when I have time.

What would you be doing on a weekend if you weren’t volunteering for the love of coffee? Spending time with the kids, they are spoiled af – with alots of weekend activities ” typical Asian parents mindset” 

Instagram: @annguyennz 


Theresa Mumford

Company Altura Coffee Company

What is your current role – General Manager and Financial controller

What do you do on a daily? – Count beans, fight a paper war, marshal the troops, a little of this and that ….. Ironically the one thing I don’t do is make a cup of coffee at the Barista station.

What event/events did you volunteer at? I started volunteering in 2013 at the Latte Art championships.  I have helped the amazing NZSCA team and the amazing Emma’s at Cupping events, Latte art events and the NZ Barista champs.  I have also enjoyed volunteering as a score keeper at the World Barista champs (2013) and the World Latte Art (2014) champs when they were held in Australia

Why do you volunteer? Initially, I was pulled in, as there was a shortage of volunteers at an event in 2013, I wondered how I could help as I wasn’t a barista but came to appreciate how much work goes on behind the scenes to produce the event that members of the community see and everyone in these competitions makes NZ shine in the global coffee community. I really love the Coffee community that we have in NZ, the passion that everyone puts into the events, you meet so many people who you work with and learn from, who you wouldn’t have actually met if it wasn’t for these events

What’s one thing that surprised you about volunteering? Even though you are physically shattered at the end of the competition, the sense of friendship amidst the coffee community will always amaze me. You work shoulder to shoulder with representatives from other coffee companiesand some of the people I have met through these events are some of the most inspirational, kind and genuine people I have ever met and I really look forward to the competitions so we can all be together again.

What’s something that your learnt volunteering that you take into everyday life? Attention to detail  – the smallest details make all the difference in the smooth, professional running of the event and the same applies to work and home life and also how to make a great whiskey sour.

Does volunteering inspire you to compete? I really admire the dedication of the competitors to their presentations but at this stage of my life I reckon I will stick to counting beans!

What feels important to you in coffee? The sustainability and successful future of coffee for future generations.

What changes do you want to see in the future of coffee in NZ? That all coffee roasters large and small who supply their product to the public are registered with a governing body such as MPI and are audited / certified to be playing by the same health and safety rules. We need to ensure that the standard of NZ Roasted coffee stays where it should be for our consumers and we continue to be a front runner on the world stage for quality and consistency.

Person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself? I cannot function without that first cup of coffee so coffee has always been an important part of my daily life! That all changed in 2005 when I joined Altura, to coffee becoming one of the biggest focal points in my life. Chris White has shown me an appreciation for coffee in all its forms through his passion for this company.  He has the ability to empower others to immerse themselves in this industry and it has been a privilege to be a part of this journey.

How are you brewing at home? Soft Brew methods 

What do you do for fun? Music marathons with my teenage daughter…

What would you be doing on a weekend if you weren’t volunteering for the love of coffee? Wishing I was watching the sunrise or set on a tropical island.

Instagram: @alturacoffee


Sue Denton

Company Beverage Services Ltd

What were you in a previous life? A turtle… (this literally was the first thing that came to my head) but I just imagine the turtles from Finding nemo being so chill and just swimming around with your friends all day seems pretty sweet lol.

What is your current role, what do you do on a daily? Head Trainer & Account Manager – visit/maintain our customer base across NZ, check compliance, basic maintenance on equipment & the best part training people to make excellent coffee.

What event/events did you volunteer at? Cup Tasters and NZ Barista Champs 21’

Why do you volunteer? To learn more about the events and surround myself with like minded people

What’s one thing that surprised you about volunteering? The amount of connections you make with people that become real friends.

What’s something that your learnt volunteering that you take into everyday life? Don’t be scared to put yourself out there because you’ll never know your own potential without taking a risk.

Does volunteering inspire you to compete? As much as I would love to say yes, unfortunately it doesn’t. My nerves couldn’t take it! lol. I love being on the other side of it though!

What feels important to you in coffee? Hmmmm…. Knowledge!

What changes do you want to see in the future of coffee in NZ? Recognition, respect, and reward for the true barista.

Person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself? EMW will always be a huge influence for me as she played such a big part in re-igniting my love for coffee. I also don’t tell him, but my big brother Jay is the reason I even had the opportunity to be in this industry. He was the one that first taught me how to make my first coffee when I was 13 years old and funnily enough he’s now my boss!

How are you brewing at home? Filter

What do you do for fun? I’m a geek at heart & love playing Call of Duty with my friends online. Shout out to my M!5FT squad!

What would you be doing on a weekend if you weren’t volunteering for the love of coffee? Spending time with my partner and niece or gaming! 

Instagram: @suey_d27


Sam Low

Company: Freelance Food & Beverage Creative / Private Coffee Trainer & Consultant

What were you in a previous life? A Panda… Eat, Sleep, Dream and Repeat!

What is your current role, what do you do on a daily? Every day is different for me and would need to work with multiple brands on a weekly basis. I work with De’Longhi as a Brand Ambassador which requires me to think of strategies and content creation for Social media and EDM’s. I do content creation and communicate a lot with F&B marketing teams, just finished an ad campaign with New World recently. A little bit of Food & Beverage styling on the side as well as freelance barista work for some amazing people/businesses.

What event/events did you volunteer at? When possible I volunteer at NZ Barista Championships, NZ Latteart Championships, and Cup Tasters.

Why do you volunteer? To give back to the NZ Specialty coffee community, engage with the people that come to these events, and to network with like-minded industry leaders.

What’s one thing that surprised you about volunteering? The amount of passion that everyone puts into events and the immense amount of organizing that is required. I love seeing new faces at events.

What’s something that you learned volunteering that you take into everyday life? To reach out for help when needed, things are better with other people around you.

Does volunteering inspire you to compete? YES YES YES!

What feels important to you in coffee? It’s the thing I look forward to the most when I wake up every day. And knowing that others feel the same, allows for connection. Short answer, MAGIC.

What changes do you want to see in the future of coffee in NZ?
More conversations about coffee origins, more black coffee focussed roasting and more education on specialty coffee from either universities, tertiaries and roasters.

Person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself? It’s not a person that inspires me, it’s the community of passion. And also the amazing flavours in coffee…. mmmmmmmmm coffee…

How are you brewing at home? Long Blacks on my De’Longhi Espresso machine in the morning and a delicate V60 Pourover in the afternoon.

What do you do for fun? FOOOOOOOOD!!! I love cooking, being creative in the kitchen, sharing recipes, advocating for Chinese gastronomy. I love other forms of art such as dance, specifically dancehall, afro dance. Enjoy theatre and spoken word poetry. A bit of a film buff and when the world is right again… TRAVEL!

What would you be doing on a weekend if you weren’t volunteering for the love of coffee? Cooking, hosting dinners, watching shows and checking out new cafes/restaurants. Trying to live a flavourful life.

Instagram: @_sam_low_ 


Ben Hadden (aka Big B)

Company: Scarborough Fare

What where you in a previous life? I was a cat, sleeping all day.

What is your current role, what do you do on a daily? I am an owner of a cafe down in CHCH, I manage everything from the books, hiring of staff to the coffee machine and the food. I love my job to bits and wouldn’t change a thing. My favourite part of all is the people, staff and customers and getting to know their story and develop a strong relationship 🙂

What event/events did you volunteer at? NZ Barista Championship.

Why do you volunteer? I want to expand my knowledge of coffee, beyond what is necessary for making just a good coffee and volunteering seemed like a good place to start. I want to compete next year and thought that volunteering and watching would either scare me to death or drive me more to compete. 

What’s one thing that surprised you about volunteering? The sheer kindness of all those involved, all the amazing people that were there are a family, welcomed me in and made me feel at home even though I had never met them.

What’s something that your learnt volunteering that you take into everyday life? I learnt that even though I am busy in my job at the cafe, I should go out to more cafes/roastery’s and get to know more people in the coffee scene because people are always happy to share their knowledge about coffee and I am happy to listen. Also I learnt not to talk to “Mean Emma’ when she has her stern face on.  

Does volunteering inspire you to compete? Absolutely 

What feels important to you in coffee? The relationships that are made to get a green coffee bean from across the world to my cup, and expanding that relationship.

What changes do you want to see in the future of coffee in NZ? More Local Competitions for coffee, and workshops. 

Person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself? I just love to drink coffee, and want to drink more Exotic crazy different ones.

How are you brewing at home? Chemex/Espresso 

What do you do for fun? Listen to Music, Walking and Gaming with the boys.

What would you be doing on a weekend if you weren’t volunteering for the love of coffee? Planning a trip away to Hanmer Springs to sit in the hot pools and clear my head.

Instagram: @scarbououghfarenz & @ben_hadden


Humaidi Ridwan

Company: Lamason Brew Bar

What were you in a previous life? I was originally from Indonesia and came to NZ to study at Vic University in Wellington. When I came to NZ, I did not have interest in coffee, but after I met the indonesian barista in Wellington, Jaya Kusuma (ex-Barista at Lamason Brew Bar), it changed my perspective about coffee.

What is your current role, what do you do on a daily basis? I am a barista at Lamason brew bar which is famous for siphon brewing in Wellington. So making sure the customer gets the best coffee and service. and sometimes, taking photos while working.

What event/events did you volunteer at? NZ Barista Championship 2021 and Coffee In Good Spirits Throwdown 2021.

Why do you volunteer? Firstly, I love coffee, and secondly, I want to meet the people who have been working in the New Zealand coffee industry for years, learning from their experiences and networking with them.

What’s one thing that surprised you about volunteering? They are really passionate and love coffee shown by their dedication and contribution towards the NZ coffee industry.

What’s something that your learnt from volunteering that you take into everyday life?Making small contribution to community, and if you have something you can do, share that with other people, and spread positivity in community

Does volunteering inspire you to compete? Hmm, i think i’m not keen to compete, rather than collaborating with them and learning from the professionals.

What feels important to you in coffee? There is happiness in a cup of coffee,  when we serve the coffee with friends, family and customers. 

What changes do you want to see in the future of coffee in NZ? I want to see the NZ coffee industry get better and better from the hospitality aspect.

Person who inspires you most in coffee, do you have a coffee hero? Or is it just the coffee itself? He is Jaya Kusuma, He taught me about coffee from zero to hero. I’m really thankful to him for his dedication and contribution to Coffee. 

How are you brewing at home? I used plunger or v60 to brew coffee, I want the simple one

What do you do for fun?Taking photo and enjoy a cup of coffee. It is a perfecto combination.

What would you be doing on a weekend if you weren’t volunteering for the love of coffee? Most likely i’ll be hanging out with my friend at coffee shop and taking photos 

Instagram: @doshotz