Those that Judge

Event Date: 26th November, 2020

Event update:

It takes a small army to run a Barista Championship with an average of 60-70 volunteers over the three days (we also need to set up the venue and calibrate the judges on Friday beforehand). 

The judges are the largest team we have, with an average of 34 participating every year, we need at least 27 to get through day one! Each barista competing has nine judges watching their every move. The roles are four x Sensory, two x Technical, one x Head, one x Shadow One and finally one x Shadow Two. They all bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience to our national Championship and without them, we simply could not crown the winner (a true champion and ambassador for NZ). We salute their ability to taste and assess the amazing coffees presented by the competitors at a world standard. We cannot thank them enough for their valuable time giving back to our NZ coffee industry!

We interviewed our prospective judges for the 2020 Meadow Fresh NZ Barista Championship about their coffee journeys, what inspires and what motivates them to judge others. We say prospective as all judges must pass a stringent calibration the day prior ensuring that they are fully fit and capable to judge our Baristas fairly. Many of them have attended specialised workshops involving pulling apart the rules, tasting and acquiring judging skills from our World certified and experienced judges.

Brew a coffee (it won’t be judged!) and read below about the legends who donate their time, energy and palates to one of the hardest and privileged jobs in the Championship.

Just a few of them

Ken Shi, Aoraki Coffee Roasters, Hampton Downs

Andrew Feldon, Mouthwater Coffee Company, Palmerston North

Richard Corney, Raw Material Coffee, Wellington

Ken Te, Independent, Auckland

Sam Keall, Havana Coffee Works, Wellington

Juliet Swann, Coffix, Auckland

Peter Van Der Gulik, Espresso Ninja, Wellington

David Green, L’affare, Wellington

John Cole, Mojo Coffee, Wellington

Daisy Bowen Dong, Aoraki Coffee Roasters, Hampton Downs

Joe ‘Mac’ McElhinney, Toasted Coffee Roasters, Auckland

Chris ‘Whitey’ White, Altura Coffee Roasters, Auckland

Adam Kyne-Lilley, L’affare, Wellington

Dylan McDowall, Little Drum Coffee, Mount Maunganui

Heesun Lee, Atomic Coffee Roasters, Auckland

Masako Yamamoto, Atomic Coffee Roasters, Auckland

Gareth Wilson, Brewed as Collective, Northland

Kayoko Nakamura, Mojo Coffee, Auckland

Joe Wishnowsky, Mojo Coffee, Wellington

Patrick Yuen, McDonalds, Auckland

Stuart Hargie, Turning Point Coffee, Auckland

Charlie Self, Little Drum Coffee, Tauranga

Michael Stevens, Ozone Coffee Roasters, Auckland

Long Dac Nguyen, New Chapter, Wellington

Alla Heta, John Burton Ltd, Auckland

Kim Boyd, Mojo Coffee, Auckland

Kerry Murray, L’affare, Wellington


Ken Shi

Name: Ken Shi

Insta: @Ken.shi.125

Company and work regionAoraki Coffee Roaster, Hampton Downs, Waikato

What is your current role? Coffee Roaster and Director

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Just be an ordinary person or if the world needs a hero, Batman maybe…

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Grandpa traveled to Brazil and bought me some nice filter coffee in early 90s.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Lance Wyatt

Why do you judge? Sharing competition and judging experiences and finding our true national champion.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? Karate.

Ever competed in a competition? Yes, few barista, latte art and cup tasting championships. and  Australia coffee roaster awards and golden bean coffee roaster awards.

How did you go? Final competitor in one of the latte art Championship and 2017 NZ Cup Taster Champion. Few silver medals in 2018, 2019, 2020 at the Melbourne Coffee Roast Awards and few silver medals in 2018, 2019 Australian coffee roaster Golden Bean Awards.

What did you learn? All the competitions are different, rules, regulations, skills, knowledge, etc. But at the end, it’s just the competition between you and yourself, challenge yourself, respect yourself and be yourself.  

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? There’s only one champion, but everyone is a super hero. Everything and everyone is connected in one way or another, respect others.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Either roasting coffee at Hampton Downs or mowing the lawns at home.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: I just flew back from Christchurch for a chocolate and coffee show. No charge to have a stall, and there was no ticket sale. It’s just an occasion for people/community to recover to gain confidence post-Covid lockdown. People there just loved it. And I wish the NZ coffee industry can become more involved in local community events and activities 

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black 

Jandals or sneakers? Jandals

Washed or naturally processed? Natural 

Up or down dose? Just right the middle 

TDS or WTF? WTF

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour Feijoa


Name: Andrew Feldon

Insta: @kiwicoffeeman

Company and work region: Mouthwater Coffee Company – Palmy – Manawatu

What is your current role? Dishwasher/Barista/Bossman 

And what do you want to be when you grow up? “Carl Sara” Jokes…  Still working on that.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: The dreggs from my Mum’s filter coffee at some old ladies club when I was a little fella. First decent coffee later in life from my big brother. 

Most influential person in coffee to you: So many influences and fantastic people I have met over the years who have selflessly put time into people… I couldn’t possibly name just one.. 

Why do you judge? To pay it forward – the number of people that put time into me when I started out in comps and my coffee journey was incredible and helped me learn so much, with valuable feedback and advice along the way, as well as being on the other side of the table, we still learn so much as a judge, with our ideas and things we know being challenged. 

Technical or Sensory? Mostly Techy, however in the past have dabbled in Sensory too.

What else do you like to judge?  A good dad joke from a bad one… 

Ever competed in a competition?  Sure have, numerous times. Always scary! 😛

How did you go?  Had some shockers and a few successes. Massive learning curves!

What did you learn?  How much time do you have… So much! about myself and coffee, and made me question (in a good way) why I do what I do and have a purpose for it. 

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Not allowing complacency to slip in, by taking stock of the little things, that build up to make a better and more consistent cuppa. 

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend?  Camping somewhere fairly remote, by a river or lake and the trees, having a hot cuppa coffee… (or Pinot) 

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Continue with building on the amazing community we have, and consumer education. 

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short Black

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers (Sneans even…)

Washed or naturally processed? Natural

Up or down dose? Up up and away…

TDS or WTF? …depends on taste..

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoas? is both sandwiched together an option? (no, it’s not! – editor)


Name: Richard Corney

Insta: @richard.corney

Company and work region: Raw Material, places that grow coffee.

What is your current role? Director of Sales 

And what do you want to be when you grow up? An Astronaut. 

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Celia Kurta from the Eastern Institute of Technology in Napier… I hated it at the time.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Allow me to change this to inspiring person. Mario Fernandez, the Technical Director at the SCA.

Why do you judge? At first, it was one of the most valuable professional (and personal) development opportunities I could find in the coffee industry. Learning from and working alongside industry colleagues with many years of experience was so valuable, I learned so much, I am learning so much! When you get to the world level, exposure to industry professionals is even greater. I also started out judging as a way to contribute and give back to the industry that provided me with so many opportunities.

Technical or Sensory? Both.

What else do you like to judge? Bagpipes.

Ever competed in a competition? Once.

How did you go? Awful… make sure your signature drink vessels can fit under the portafilter and have stable bases so they don’t fall over. It was fun though. 

What did you learn? That competing is nerve-racking! I have a lot of empathy for competitors who put themselves out there. 

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Sensory and technical discipline when tasting and brewing coffee.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? In the Tuscan countryside, at a small town trattoria eating pasta and drinking Chianti. 

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: I’ve come full circle in my career, there’s a coffee out there for everyone, it could be instant, it could be a dark roast, it could be something super special. I’d love for our messaging to consumers and all industry stakeholders to be this; there’s a coffee out there for everyone, and if it’s not ‘specialty’ that’s ok. Embrace what you enjoy and judge not that which you don’t like. 

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Espresso 😉

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers.

Washed or naturally processed? Washed.

Up or down dose? What ever tastes best for the coffee being brewed.

TDS or WTF? :🤷‍♂️ 

Flat or conical? :🤷‍♂️ 

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoas? Sour Feijoa’s, anyone who doesn’t answer with Sour feijoas is wrong…


Name: Ken Te

Insta: @Kenneth_Te

Company and work region: Independent 

What is your current role? Just another Barista

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Would do anything to help and make people smile 😃 

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Myself

Most influential person in coffee to you: hard to pick one but Lee (camper coffee) Dove Chen (Grey street) David Huang (black and gold) Truly real Legends  

Why do you judge? I want to earn and explore more toward what it’s like to be on the other side of the table and hope this experience will help me in future competition. 

Technical or Sensory? Technical

What else do you like to judge? Eventually, I would love to be a sensory judge. 

Ever competed in a competition? Yes, Barista Champ and Latte Art Champ

How did you go? 2017 Latte Art champ, that was okay and I came 3rd at 2019 Barista Champ. 

What did you learn? I learned there always something I can work on, does not matter how perfect I think it is. I can always improve and perfect my craft better. 

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Most certainly workflow and the way I communicate to people about coffee.  

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Somewhere in NZ with a perfect Golf Course 

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: I personally want to see better pay for great individual Barista around NZ. In the past few years, I have witness a lot of great baristas or have the potential left coffee industry and I would hate to see more Baristas leave the industry because of this problem.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? of course short black

Jandals or sneakers? sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Naturally 100%

Up or down dose? Down Dose

TDS or WTF? WTF

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? BOTH <3


Name: Sam Keall

Insta: @sam_keall

Company and work region: Havana Coffee Works, Wellington

What is your current role? Café Specialist & Coffee Educator

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Batman!

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Can’t remember.. probably a well-meaning relative wielding a jar of instant

Most influential person in coffee to you: The OG coffee baron – Geoff Marsland 

Why do you judge? Keen to get involved in more events and contribute to the NZ coffee industry.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? People wearing Ugg boots in public

Ever competed in a competition? No

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? At the family bach – board games, BBQ, banter

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: A continued increase of creativity and diversity

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Flat White

Jandals or sneakers? Jandals

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? Down

TDS or WTF? TDS

Flat or conical? Conical

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour Feijoas


Name: Juliet Swann

Insta: @juliet_swann

Company and work region: Auckland

What is your current role? Store manager and head barista

And what do you want to be when you grow up? This answer changes far too often

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My first taste of specialty coffee would have been Michaela Gerrard from Veneziano Coffee Roasters

Most influential person in coffee to you: Alex Borg from Veneziano Coffee Roasters 

Why do you judge? Being able to judge and being amongst all these hard working baristas, involved in their journey of presenting what they have in offer is marvellous!

Technical or Sensory? See now this is a hard one, I would have to say technical but that’s because all of my experience is in technical and let’s be honest, with sensory being able to taste all those incredible coffees those baristas bring to the table would be pretty awesome.

What else do you like to judge? With the right guidance I would love my next judging experience to be sensory

Ever competed in a competition? Not a barista competition

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? The few times I have judged and been to the awesome workshops has helped me grow my experience. I take each part of that in and utilise it to make a top notch brew at work

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Whangamata beach and my whanau all enjoying a beer

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: More events, including open events to the public. Having more advertising 

Quickfire questions: 

Short black or flat white? Short black

Jandals or sneakers? Lets go with socks and jandals then you get the best of both worlds

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? Depends what you’re dosing for 

TDS or WTF? TDS

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour Feijoas


Name: Peter Van Der Gulik

Insta: @pete.vdg

Company and work region: Espresso Ninja, Wellington

What is your current role? Sales and Operations Manager

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Content, rich, and retired with my own golf course. I’m not planning on growing up any time soon.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My folks with a tin of Tim Hortons pre-ground filter! No donuts though…

Most influential person in coffee to you: I don’t know about influential, but Aymon McQuade and Alla Heta both taught me a lot about the sensory side of coffee. Especially during their time competing, when I helped with their setups and routine run-throughs pre-competition.

Why do you judge? For the challenge, to keep me sharp, and to give back to the industry that has given me so much. I’m in it for the beer and food too.

Technical or Sensory? I’m a tech guy at heart but will be judging both!

What else do you like to judge? People, stuff, and things. I keep my opinions to myself though! Usually.

Ever competed in a competition? Not yet… I’ve always been on the other side of the table.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? A bunch of stuff, actually. Try new things. Challenge yourself. Be willing to learn and take advice. Be nervous, and do it like a boss anyway.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? On a beach with a beer, a bbq, and no phone.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: I’d love there to be a list of qualified and registered coffee technicians, so no-one gets caught out and engages with a cowboy tech. We’ve all worked hard and gained the necessary electrical qualifications to do our work. That should be more respected. I’d also like to see more female technicians. I’ve only ever known two and they were both awesome. Where the girls at?

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Flat white

Jandals or sneakers? Jandals

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose?  Up

TDS or WTF? TDS

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Pineapple Lumps!


Name: David Green

Insta: @coffeeguydave

Company and work region: L’affare, National

What is your current role? Coffee Specialist

And what do you want to be when you grow up? The lawn guy – Like Forest Gump.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Grandfather.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Do you want the list or just the highlights – EMW of course!

Why do you judge? Cause I can’t compete – too scared

Technical or Sensory? Technical – Stop watch master!! Not bad on the sensory and occasionally really bossy so head judge too!

What else do you like to judge? Beer…. Is that a thing?

Ever competed in a competition? A Faema MPN was the grinder – says it all!

How did you go? EMW won that year…. But better than I thought I would.

What did you learn? Those that can – compete. Those that can’t – Judge

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Don’t finger rim my cup!!!

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? On the side-line of one of my kids sporting events.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Customers understand specialty coffee and the craft and happily pay more for the experience

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? AM or PM?

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? UP

TDS or WTF? CBF does it taste good?

Flat or conical? Controversial – Conical

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Pineapple Lumps


Name: John Cole

Insta: @thecoletrane 

Company and work region: Mojo Coffee, Wellington

What is your current role? Training and People Coordinator 

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Still trying to decide. Maybe something in the coffee industry.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My parents, double strength dark roast pre-ground American filter.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Our customer facing staff. They are on the front line with our customers daily.

Why do you judge? I’m honoured to be in the position to give my all back to the barista. Oh, and for tasty coffee!

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? Whisk(e)y

Ever competed in a competition? Yes, Cup Tasters and Brewers Cup

How did you go? I had fun!

What did you learn? Carve out plenty of time to practice

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Awareness 

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? With my family in the bush.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: The education of consumers rising so we can charge more for higher quality coffee and that being received well.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black

Jandals or sneakers? Boots, but if I have to I’ll go sneakers, no one should see my feet!

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? Down dose

TDS or WTF? WTF

Flat or conical? Both

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Frozen Pineapple Lumps, so crisp!


Name:  Daisy Bowen Dong

Company and work region:  Aoraki Coffee in Waikato

What is your current role?  Office Administration/PA

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Me

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Auntie Fang. Her Dad is the first Coffee Roaster in Shanghai and she gets to give real coffee to families and that’s my first coffee experience.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Ken Shi, my husband obviously 

Why do you judge? Good opportunity to meet all the legends in the industry. An efficient way to learn what is new trend and new techniques and gets good energy from the team. 

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? Would like to try Technical, but worry not catching enough actions. Would love to get experience by standing by and starting taking notes and going through the score sheet.

Ever competed in a competition? Yes, NZ Cup Tasters Championship 2018, 2019 & 2020

How did you go? Best result is 8/8 in 2019.

What did you learn? Focus and be confident, believe in yourself

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? The willingness to challenge themselves, the strive to get better and be the best, the confidence to speak in public

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? No weekends, have had no weekends for many years. Wish for a good weekend with family at beach, no internet, no smartphone.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry? Association is a bit quiet after covid-19 lock down this year. Maybe a bit more activities or events?

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short Black

Jandals or sneakers?  Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Naturally Processed

Up or down dose? Up dose

TDS or WTF?  TDS

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour Feijoa’s


Name: Joe “Mac” McElhinney

Insta: No Insta! Facebook.com/joedrums

Company and work region: Toasted Coffee Roasters, Auckland

What is your current role? National Sales Manager

And what do you want to be when you grow up? When I was a kid, it was a jet pilot. Highway to the danger zone. But today, an F1 driver would do nicely. Like a jet but on the ground.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Hmmm, first taste of coffee would be my parents. The plunger was always on the breakfast table and it became central to the morning routine from the age of about 15. There were other critical moments of tasting coffee along the way from other folks that redefined what I considered the taste of coffee, but my parents were the first.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Tough question. Really tough question. If I were to swap “influential” for “trusted” it would be my mate Nick Mabey at my old roastery Assembly in the UK. When I need a sounding board he’s my go to. In that regard you could say he’s the most influential.

Why do you judge? To get close to the edge of our countries developing baristas and offer a stone to sharpen their craft upon. Selfishly however, having observed competitions I’m always envious when I don’t get to taste what is being served, particularly signature beverages.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory all the way, like I mentioned above, it’s amazing getting to taste the best efforts of our barista community. A privilege.

What else do you like to judge? Music, food, and wine.

Ever competed in a competition? I won a CD from a radio station once, and some concert tickets too. I entered the Barista champs when I was VERY green and had EMW as a judge…then forgot to pour her water… Also entered the Cup Tasters a few times too.

How did you go? Barista Champs was all about learning and trying not to fuck up. I wasn’t aiming to place but I was given some 5’s by a highly under-hydrated judge… Cup Tasters was a lot more serious with my first year placing and second-year runner up after an all-night drive from Auckland due to cancelled flights to Welly.

What did you learn? Practice and planning matter. If you make a mistake in practice, that’s one mistake you’ll hopefully not make when it counts, and if you make it onstage, then keep it cool – a grand recovery can be as impressive as a flawless performance.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life?  Set-up and pack down are as important as the routine.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? With family, friends, and food. The company of loved ones is all I need, and a good playlist.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Less milk based beverages, and smaller cups. A greater connection between our values of quality and the customer’s perception of quality.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? Down

TDS or WTF? Where’s The Food?

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Pineapple lumps.


Name: Chris ‘Whitey’ White

Insta: @flatwhitenz

Company and work region: Altura Coffee Roasters, Auckland

What is your current role? Bread

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Taller

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Kaldi

Most influential person in coffee to you: George Clooney

Why do you judge? The great ‘Perks’

Technical or Sensory? Shadow

What else do you like to judge? Everything! I’m very Judgey

Ever competed in a competition? Trans Tasman Challenge and Hot Dog eating.

How did you go? Kicked the Aussies asses and now hate Hot Dogs.

What did you learn? So this is how you put on weight.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? The free t’shirt.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? A vineyard.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Less beards and tattoos.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Flatty

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Need to save HO2 so natural

Up or down dose? Up (unless you are on a budget)

TDS or WTF? WTF

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Lumps for sure!


Name: Adam Kyne-Lilley

Insta: @adamkynelilley

Company and work region: L’affare, Wellington

What is your current role? Head Roaster

And what do you want to be when you grow up? A cider maker

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Caffè Nero in the uk – mainly because they had a smoking section, and the mochas had whipped cream with a coffee bean on top.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Is James Hoffmann a lame answer? His jimseven blog was good reading back in the day.

Why do you judge? To taste awesome coffees for free!

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? veggies

Ever competed in a competition? Yeah…

How did you go? Badly….

What did you learn? That I can do really scary stuff, but that I don’t like doing scary stuff.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? I now always stir espresso at least 3 times, jokes – I sometimes spin it in a big cup.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? In the garden.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Less blokes at the top.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Long black? I can’t handle rizzies.

Jandals or sneakers? Brogues

Washed or naturally processed? Washed in the morning, natural in the afternoon.

Up or down dose? Up for filter, down for espresso until you can’t tell the difference.

TDS or WTF? TDS, tedious, but useful.

Flat or conical? Doesn’t really matter in 99% of the coffees drunk.

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour feijoas.


Name: Dylan McDowall

Insta: @dpmcdowall

Company and work region: Little Drum Coffee, Mount Maunganui.

What is your current role? Coffee roaster, Barista trainer, Quality assessor.

And what do you want to be when you grow up? I’m currently in my dream job but I’d love to continue my adventurous lifestyle and travel to coffee regions around the world to learn more on the ways coffee is processed and meet the farmers who care for the land and the product they grow.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: I first tasted coffee as teenager making mochas with milo and instant coffee at home but my love for specialty coffee came much later in life when I was living in Ireland and worked with a man named Tom who was very passionate about coffee and he’s love for it was infectious. I worked closely with him at a new cafe and started to learn the art and science behind what makes a great cup of coffee. 

Most influential person in coffee to you: My sensei with coffee right now is Charlie Self who’s reputation is already well known within the NZSCA

Why do you judge? To challenge myself in a new way and as always I’m trying to advance my knowledge and skills within the industry so this would be an ideal opportunity.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory as first choice but I’m willing to do anything to just be a part of the buzz

What else do you like to judge? People and their habits with coffee 😅

Ever competed in a competition? Yes, a latte art competition in Galway Ireland which was one of the most intimidating experiences of my life.

How did you go? I won, haha. But after that I knew I wasn’t a fan of being on stage in a competitive capacity, I prefer to observe and learn from watching other passionate folks. 

What did you learn? After that experience I knew I wasn’t a fan of being on stage in a competitive capacity, I prefer to observe and learn from watching other passionate folks. 

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? I try to apply anything I learn in the industry to my job as a roaster and barista trainer. This industry is always evolving so the knowledge to be gained is limitless I think. 

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Who knows, I love spontanous adventures so I could be out surfing, hiking or on a road trip. 

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Death to a large flat whites. More people experimenting with different brew techniques at home.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black

Jandals or sneakers?  Bare feet

Washed or naturally processed? Natural

Up or down dose? Up dose

TDS or WTF? What are you talking about? Haha

Flat or conical? Conical

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour feijoa’s


Name: Heesun Lee

Insta: @Heesun_nz

Company and work region: Atomic Coffee Roasters, Auckland

What is your current role? Trainer, Barista

And what do you want to be when you grow up? A house owner with three cats

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Mum introduced me to taste an instant coffee when I was teen and Henrik from Langdon coffee introduced how to slurp at my very first cupping session years ago. 

Most influential person in coffee to you: All female coffee champions

Why do you judge? It’s a fun, exciting, inspiring and almost enlightening experience! It’s very lucky to be given the opportunity to be a judge.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory!

What else do you like to judge? Food..

Ever competed in a competition? Yes. Three times at NZ Barista Championship

How did you go? Runner-up at my last attempt 2019

What did you learn?  I always learn so much about coffee and then realise that I didn’t actually know much about coffee.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? How to look for, taste and identify the taste balance.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Sometimes, behind the machine making coffees at Atomic Coffee Roaster in Kingsland other wise various places – Farmers market, local cafes, plant shops..

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: More varied career and learning opportunities.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? Down

TDS or WTF? Wtf..

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Pineapple lumps


Name: Masako Yamamoto

Insta: @masakoyamamoto

Company and work region: Atomic Coffee Roasters, NZ

What is your current role? Training Manager/Coffee Specialist

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Beats me.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My dad in his restaurant, long blacks with cream.

Most influential person in coffee to you: I’m not much of a fan girl, I take the best pieces of knowledge from everyone I meet.

Why do you judge? Because I love sensory analysis, experiencing amazing coffee, meeting inspired people, and supporting our industry.

Technical or Sensory? I’m definitely sensory.

What else do you like to judge? Everything. I tend more to analyse anything that has flavour, scent etc.

Ever competed in a competition? Yes, this one twice, latte art and a few throwdowns. I hate performing, I like to be behind the curtain.

How did you go? I think okay, I gained so much from the experience.

What did you learn? I learnt to do the things that frighten you because you will grow the most doing them.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Palette enrichment/coffee knowledge.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? In my garden, potting around the house or having friends over for dinner.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: My personal passions are in education, so more of that!

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? What time of day is it? What’s the coffee? Depends.

Jandals or sneakers? Sandals.

Washed or naturally processed? Both.

Up or down dose? Depends.

TDS or WTF? Both.

Flat or conical? Flat.

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour Feijoas, Pineapple Lumps have changed, along with Burger Rings.


Name: Gareth Wilson

Insta: @brewedas & @gdubnz85

Company and work region: Brewed As Collective, Mangawhai Heads, Northland

What is your current role? Owner/operator

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Marine biologist

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Me, international roast instant, bottom shelf of the supermarket, black with like four sugars, haha.

Most influential person in coffee to you: James Hoffmann

Why do you judge? To gain more skills about our industry

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? Meals at other restaurants and cafes

Ever competed in a competition? Nope

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? It might be your 100th coffee you’ve made today, but there is a good chance it’s their first and only cup for the day. 

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Falling gracefully down a snow covered mountain back country.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Less pretentious, more inclusive, guiding the new people to coffee (more importantly customers) along the coffee journey we’ve all enjoyed so much. From mochas to crazy extended fermented single-origin pour-overs. What guides that progression?

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black

Jandals or sneakers? Jandals

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? Up

TDS or WTF? TDS

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour feijoas


Name: Kayoko Nakamura

Insta: @kay_nak

Company and work region: Mojo coffee Auckland

What is your current role? Trainer

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Retire.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Peer pressure when I was at University.

Most influential person in coffee to you: All past and current WBC champions!

Why do you judge? To become a better person.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory.

What else do you like to judge? Other than coffee? Cheese?

Ever competed in a competition? Yes, Barista Champ 2010

How did you go? I came 2nd at regional and 4th at national

What did you learn? I learnt a lot about myself, what I like/don’t like, what I’m comfortable with… so on.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Motivation to do better. 

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? On a walking trail somewhere with my dog.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Decent customer service.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Flat white

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Natural

Up or down dose? Down dose

TDS or WTF? WTF

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour feijoa


Name: Joe Wishnowsky 

Company and work region: Mojo Coffee Cartel

What is your current role? Assistant Roaster.

And what do you want to be when you grow up? When I grow up I want to be a bartender.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My girlfriend introduced me to coffee.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Most influential person is my mate James, an amazing barista I worked with for many years. 

Why do you judge? I judge to learn from the best people in the industry, both competitors and judges as well as challenge myself to do something new. 

Technical or Sensory? Sensory.

What else do you like to judge? I also like judging food.

Ever competed in a competition? I competed in the Barista Champs.

How did you go? I didn’t go great, didn’t go terribly.

What did you learn? I learnt that anything can happen on the day.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Something I took from the champs into everyday work life is that it takes an team to achieve great work.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? On a perfect day I’d be at the beach having a beer with my friends.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: I would like to see higher wages in our industry.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black.

Jandals or sneakers? Jandals

Washed or naturally processed? Washed Coffee.

Up or down dose? Down dose.

TDS or WTF? I use TDS Sometimes.

Flat or conical? Flat.

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Both.


Name: Patrick Yuen

Company and work region:  McDonald’s, Albany 

What is your current role? Cafe manager 

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Have my own Cafe with Roaster

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My Sister 

Most influential person in coffee to you: My tutor at MIT, he introduce me to go to competition and become Judge.

Why do you judge? Want to taste new creative coffee and high standards coffee, also van learn a lot every year with competitors and Judges 

Technical or Sensory? Technical at the moment 

What else do you like to judge? Travel 

Ever competed in a competition? Yes I competed at Regional and hospitality industry. 

How did you go? Silver 

What did you learn? Detail of Technical and consistency coffee

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? It makes me want to taste more different coffee from different barista’s and brand’s

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Toasted Coffee Roasters.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: We need to approach other big brand coffee shop or cafe barista standards.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Flat white

Jandals or sneakers? Jandals

Washed or naturally processed? Naturally

Up or down dose? Up 

TDS or WTF? WTF

Flat or conical? Flat.

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Pineapple Lumps


Name: Stuart Hargie

Insta: @turningpiontcoffeenz

Company and work region: Turning Point Coffee, Auckland-ish

What is your current role? Roaster, dispatch, paying bills.

And what do you want to be when you grow up? A Ninja.

Most influential person in coffee to you: My first geek book was written by Ronald Clarke, O. G. Vitzthum. This book inspired my inner geek, legend! Dr Illy did some cool stuff too.

Why do you judge? To taste great coffee, learn and see passion and talent shine on stage.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory, I fear the tech.

What else do you like to judge? Beer and non coffee drinkers.

Ever competed in a competition? Yup.

How did you go? aaaaaah ………….yup, had fun.

What did you learn? Big stages are scary.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Normally the cool pens, clipboards and aprons that EMW buys.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? On the water.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Both.

Jandals or sneakers? Jandals.

Washed or naturally processed? Both have been winners over time, currently I’m back to washed.

Up or down dose? Down.

TDS or WTF? 😂

Flat or conical? Both, which ever one makes the coffee taste best.

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Lumps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Name: Charlie Self.

Insta: @littledrumcoffee

Company and work region: Little Drum, Tauranga 

What is your current role? Owner, operator.

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Old enough to know better.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My partner, about 18 years ago

Most influential person in coffee to you: I don’t do favouritism.

Why do you judge? To gain experience from those around me.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory.

What else do you like to judge? Flat earthers, seriously what the…..

Ever competed in a competition? Yup been there, felt the nerves and got humbled.

How did you go? Swings and roundabouts.

What did you learn? Seems that I enjoy putting myself in situations that make my stomach churn with apprehension. But make me wiser.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Trying to smile while not looking like I’m missing a few chromosomes.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? In a meadow with the smell of spring in the air. The sound of my kids playing in the distance, close enough to hear they are ok, but not close enough to harass me. Picnic blanket laid out with good food and good wine. And it goes without saying, good company.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: The gap between industry expectations of what a good coffee is and what the general population seems a good coffee.

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Shorty of course.

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers.

Washed or naturally processed? Naturals

Up or down dose? Depends on how the coffee tastes.

TDS or WTF? I only worry about TDS in hydroponic and aquaculture systems. I don’t see how it can be used as a daily tool for the average barista on the frontline.

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoas? Neither, are you a sadist?


Name: Michael Stevens

Insta: @masteves or for cutesies @krp_fd

Company and work region: Ozone Coffee Roasters, AKL based but always on the move

What is your current role? Account Manager/Barista Trainer

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Astronaut!!!

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My mother and her extra strength Greggs instant was my first “coffee” but it was Jayren Dixon who introduced me to the complexity of roasted coffee and how to enjoy espresso

Most influential person in coffee to you: Jayren Dixon!

Why do you judge? I want to see first hand the new innovations, techniques, skills on display from our amazing coffee professionals…and of course to taste some of the worlds best espresso based beverages!

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? Outfits, political views

Ever competed in a competition? Yes

How did you go? First comp was great! 2nd in 2017 NZ Cup Tasters…all downhill from there

What did you learn? That competitions are FUN!

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? The strive for betterment!

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? At a Rave

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: No more beards!

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Shawtay

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? Down

TDS or WTF? GTFO

Flat or conical? Conical

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoas? Pineapple Lumps


Name: Long Dac Nguyen

Company and work region: New Chapter – Coffee Brewers / Wellington

What is your current role? Working Bee

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Train Driver

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My Dad

Most influential person in coffee to you: My Dad

Why do you judge? Exploring coffee world and great opportunity to drink the best coffee from the best barista.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? Wine Judge

Ever competed in a competition? 2011 / 2013

How did you go? 5th place

What did you learn? Never stop learning because you will be behind.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? Always try to find the better way to improve coffee making techniques.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Having fun with my little girl at Avalon Park or having a few beers at Taproom: 91 Te Aro ( when I am off parenting duty )

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: More specialty coffee shop/ customers are giving up on extra hot FW

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short Black first course and follow up by Flat white on second course.

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Naturally

Up or down dose? Up

TDS or WTF? TDS

Flat or conical? Flat

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoas? Sour Feijoas


Name: Alla Heta

Insta: @lalaheta

Company and work region: John Burton – NZ

What is your current role? Sales and Quality Manager

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Never grow up, it’s a trap!   

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: I think me; I really wanted to know what that brown stuff was all about

Most influential person in coffee to you: Emma Markland Webster – I don’t think I need to tell why 

Why do you judge? Number one position to taste all the best coffees in New Zealand

Technical or Sensory? Sensory

What else do you like to judge? My husband’s cleaning skills!

Ever competed in a competition? Yea a few times

How did you go? meh

What did you learn? A few things about coffee but a lot of what I can do under pressure.

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? My organization skills and everything must be done at my best or don’t do it.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Karekare

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Flat white

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? Washed

Up or down dose? ?!?!?

TDS or WTF?  WTaF

Flat or conical? Its complicated

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoas? lumps


Name: Kim Boyd

Insta: @itsthebeastieboyd

Company and work region: Mojo Coffee, Auckland

What is your current role? Project Manager

And what do you want to be when you grow up? Smart enough to know better

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: My parents …first, instant in the 80’s then plunger in the 90’s.

Most influential person in coffee to you: Benjamin Put.

Why do you judge? To learn, connect and grow.

Technical or Sensory? Both but I’m OG Technical.

What else do you like to judge? Throw-downs for their fun, fast paced nature and also fried chicken.

Ever competed in a competition? Nope… not brave enough. Those who can’t do, judge. 😉

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? How to reward, how to articulate and how to give constructive feedback 

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? After a loooooong sleep-in, drinking delicious filter coffee and eating pancakes at home before heading out to see friends and enjoying a negroni as the sun sets.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: More cafes serving, promoting and loving delicious batch brew. 

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short black

Jandals or sneakers? Sneakers unless I’m at the beach

Washed or naturally processed? Depends but generally washed

Up or down dose? Down

TDS or WTF? IYKYK

Flat or conical? Conical

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoas? Sour feijoas all day…or sour coke bottles or sour snakes.


Name: Kerry Murray

Insta: @kbmurray90

Company and work region: L’affare, Wellington.

What is your current role? Operations Manager.

And what do you want to be when you grow up? A Princess.

Who introduced you to your first taste of coffee: Nestle….. Don’t judge me I was young and foolish…

Most influential person in coffee to you: That changes all the time.

Why do you judge? To give back to the Industry and I like coffee.

Technical or Sensory? Sensory.

What else do you like to judge? That depends…

Ever competed in a competition? Not coffee, but I have raced in speedway?

How did you go? I won, some of the time…

What did you learn? That it was expensive…

What’s something you take from the Barista competitions into your everyday work life? The opportunity to calibrate with the top people in NZ coffee industry.

Where would we find you on a perfect weekend? Eating a pie on a road trip.

What changes would you like to see in the NZ coffee industry: Ahh….

Quickfire questions:

Short black or flat white? Short Black

Jandals or sneakers? sneakers

Washed or naturally processed? honey

Up or down dose? Whatever works

TDS or WTF? TDS

Flat or conical? Depends on the grinder?

Pineapple Lumps or Sour Feijoa’s? Sour Feijoas