Interview by Melanie Winter
In all the conversations I've had with Craig, I'm always amazed at his ability to look at the bigger picture. Now that he has earned this title, he aims to use it to uplift specialty coffee, raise awareness for the skill of the barista and generally just be coffee awesome. Oh and also he wants to win the World Barista Championship.
"Can you imagine? I want to win this thing, imagine a South African winning this competition. I want to win." Straight from the National Barista Champ's mouth! Let's get behind him people!
A quiet moment after his Championship winning set.
There has been an absolutely amazing outpouring of support from every corner of the country, including companies willing to sponsor you as getting to the Worlds is an expensive endeavour, how does that feel?
Incredible, I am completely overwhelmed, it still doesn't feel real.
So where are you planning to travel in prep for the African Coffee Competition (which Lovejoy Chirambasukwa won last year!)?
I have no idea, I would like to go to possibly Zambia.
Word on the street is that this is going to be the best SA team to travel to the Worlds, can you tell us about who you hope to be there?
Wendy, Kyle and Sarah of Colombo Coffee & Tea, my good friend Johan Fritz from Partshub and I don't know who else yet, but that's a good start
What insight do you think having head judge Teija there provided? She was a judge in the semi-finals in Melbourne.
I really don't know yet. I had a brief chat to her after the comp at Bean There at 44 Stanley, and I will be chatting to her throughout the year though.
Can you tell us exactly how many times you ran through this set in prep for the competition
Must have been about 15 times just in the 2 days before the comp. Tony Horter has a Nuova Simonelli WBC Aurelia at his home so I was able to practice there.
Tell us a little bit about your family and what part they've played in your journey?
My 3 year old Emily is my first coffee taster when it comes to choosing a roast profile. She tasted the Kenyan 2 days post roast and loved it. Wendy is extremely supportive and she takes these competitions pretty seriously. Although I compete by myself we both share in the stress in the preparation and outcome of the competitions.
(On the road home from the Nationals we had a discussion about how young is too young to introduce children to coffee. Safe to say Craig and Wendy are a bit at odds on that one. It was fun.)
The technical side of machines is where your passion began, tell us about your Lineage store?
I have been a coffee machine technician for a while now, I bought a commercial 3kg Diedrich roaster 2 years back in prepertion for opening a micro roastery and coffee machine showroom dedicated at the home barista market. I have opened the first phase of that which is a coffee bar that operates from within Stretta Cafe in Hillcrest. I will be taking the shop next door to them sometime soon and putting the roaster in there with a selection of home espresso machines and merchandise.
Craig wrote an article for Issue 3 of TheCoffeeMag. Awesome photo by Andrew McGibbon. If you haven't got a copy, you can order it here.
How has roasting your own beans changed the way you handle coffee?
More than I could have known, don't profess to be an amazing roaster but the ability to control the tastes in the cup is incredible.
We're hoping to get you on the road to share your skills around the country and raise some awareness about specialty coffee and the Barista Championships, sound good to you?
Super cool, I'm game.
Craig at work at Lineage inside Stretta in Hillcrest. Look at that beautiful Strada espresso machine!