Name: Sinjon Wicks
2015 KZN Barista Championship - 8th Place
2015 KZN Cup Tasters - 5th
2017 KZN Cup Tasters - 2nd
Why did you enter this competition?
My first experience with competitive coffee was in 2015, not long after starting my coffee journey. I saw it as an opportunity to learn from some of the top barista's and coffee professionals from across the country, sharing ideas and growing the speciality industry as a whole. Competition also provides a unique platform for exploring trends, experimenting with new coffees, and beverage recipes as well as the opportunity to get all of us into one room and talk about what we love; coffee!
What is your favourite coffee at the moment?
At the moment I'm obsessed with an Ethiopian Kana Heirloom natural process. Cortado in the morning, and V60’s all day after.
What has been the highlight of the journey so far?
All of the amazing people I've had the opportunity to meet. These passionate individuals are the one's who are driving the speciality industry and market forward, I count myself very lucky to be able to share ideas and disseminate new information and techniques with some of the most knowledgeable in the coffee industry.
Why do you think these competitions are important ?
Running cafe's or roasteries is often a seven-day-a-week operation, and unfortunately doesn't really afford us the opportunity to engage with other like-minded people . Of course, the dissemination knowledge and personal growth through competition goes without saying, but the camaraderie developed through these events is absolutely amazing.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself (that has nothing to do with coffee)
When I'm not making coffee, I play drums and bass in a band with some of the other guys at the roastery. We're terrible.
Name: Christopher Abrahams
Competition History: WC Latte Art Regional Championship 2015,2016 & 2017. WC Barista Regional Championship 2016 & 2017. Runner-up SA Latte Art National Championship 2017.
Region and position in comp: WC Latte Art Champion & 4th place Barista Regional Championship.
Company: Ciro Beverage Solutions
Why did you enter this competition?
I entered the competitions because of my love and passion for coffee! It is also a perfect opportunity to meet barista within the coffee community, where great friendships are made :)
What is your favourite coffee at the moment?
My favourite coffee at the moment an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere through a chemex. It is absolutely delicious!
What has been the highlight of this journey for you so far?
The highlight of this journey has certainly been the opportunity to compete and continue learning about how special coffee is to South Africa. It is continuously growing and it is amazing to see the growth and talent of upcoming baristas in the industry.
Why do you think the competitions are important?
I believe that the competition is important, as it allows baristas to express their passion for coffee as well as giving coffee companies opportunities to expose their brands.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself :
I am one of a twin. As funny as this may sound, I am actually passionate about trucks. I truly enjoy working with my hands and find the world of engineering absolutely fascinating!
Name: Dayle Visser
2nd in KZN Latte Art Championship 2013
Regional barista Championships: KZN 2011,2012, WP 2017, 2018
Region and position in comp:
KZN 2011 (did not make finals), KZN 2012 (did not make finals), WP 2017 (did not make finals), WP 2018 (placed 2nd)
Latte Art champs: KZN 2013 (placed 2nd), Nationals 2013 (did not make finals)
Aeropress Nationals 2017
Company: Tribe Coffee
Why did you enter this competition:
I entered this year to better myself as a person as well as a coffee professional. I have also realised that these competitions are extremely fun and being part of the coffee community is a privilege very few get to experience. I'm doing this in hopes of proving to the world that South Africans kick ass at coffee.
Favourite coffee at the moment:
At the moment I'm really enjoying a Kenyan fully washed (its my competition coffee so won't give too much info lol)
The first thing I do in the morning is have it in an aeropress before heading off to work. Start your day off with perfect coffee right?
Highlight of the journey so far:
The highlight so far was standing next to our current national champ for the winner announcement at regionals. That feeling standing next to a champion, everyone dead silent as if no one was breathing, you could taste the excitement in the air. Winston is an incredible barista and it was honour to share a stage with him.
Why are the competitions so important:
The chance to show off your skills as a barista to a panel of judges and the public is so important for growth as a coffee professional. It's also a perfect way to introduce the general public to speciality coffee. Being a professional barista is damn cool and these competitions prove it.
Interesting facts about me:
I am currently working on massive art pieces.
I have been skateboarding for 17 years.
Just started a multi genre music project with one of my best friends.
NAME: Simnikiwe Mkhize
COMPETITION HISTORY: This was first competition. Ever.
REGION AND POSITION IN COMP: KZN Barista 1st place
COMPANY: Counter Culture SA
WHY DID YOU ENTER THIS COMPETITION? Honestly, I was peer pressured, by the bosses, co workers and customers. I gave in because the environment gave me an opportunity to put my skills up against other barista in KZN and also make new connections that I wouldn't have made being at the cafe.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COFFEE AT THE MOMENT? V60 Pourovers
WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF THIS JOURNEY FOR YOU SO FAR? Its definitely not the attention, but the amount of support and love I receive from coffee lovers who come from all over.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE COMPETITIONS ARE IMPORTANT? The bible verse that says "Iron sharpens iron" sums it up. you will never know how good you are unless you yourself against others who think the same about themselves. not says that if you don't come on top that your not but rather you learn where you need to improve.
TELL US AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOURSELF. Okay, this very personal. I have a 14 years old Surf City Barbie doll and a 8 years old Fashionsta Barbie doll. I make outfits for them as often as I can and obviously comb and play with them. :)
Name: Neil Gouws
Competition History: (what have you competed in before?) Cup Tasters Nationals 2017, Western Cape Barista Champs 2017
Region and position in comp: (i.e. KZN Cup Tasters 4th) Western Cape 3rd
Company: Origin Coffee Roasting
Why did you enter this competition? I love competing, not only does it push me and improve my coffee knowledge, it's a great oppurtunity to connect with all the awesome people in the South African coffee community.
What is your favourite coffee at the moment? (either the style or the coffee bean) I've recently had the chance to work with a few great Ethiopian Naturals. My favourite would have to be a Yirgacheffe Kochere Natural V60 pour-over.
What has been the highlight of this journey for you so far? Nationals 2017 was a great experience. So much knowledge and experience gathered under one roof.
Why do you think the competitions are important? Competitions are one of the ways we improve our skills and up our standards. This is incredibly valuable in a relatively new coffee industry like South Africa's. Competitions gather the greatest coffee professionals, who are always willing to share their knowledge and sow into our community.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself (that has nothing to do with coffee:) I really enjoy being outdoors. So if I'm not behind the bar you'll probably find me on the beach or a hiking trail in the middle of nowhere.
Comps History: 2nd place Western Cape Barista Championships (2016)
5th place Western Cape Barista Championships (2017)
Company: Ground Central Coffee Roastery
Coffee I like: I’m so into Flat whites, especially with El Salvador beans
My Journey: It has been a tough at the moment to find time to practice and be behind the machine as I have been mostly involved in Coffee equipment selling & Coffee machine repairs and importing in my new job with Ground Central. It has been an exciting time, but still i’m always trying to give myself more time behind the espresso bar.
Why Comps are Important: In my opinion they are important in a way that we get the time to showcase our skills,talent & passion.Also the fact that we are coffee ambassadors & we all have the same obsession.
Fact about me: Look, my life has now changed hey from socializing with friends lol! I’m now a dad so he is now my partner in crime, always with him in my spare time :)