In the hope of highlighting a little bit more about the man who received the highest "Open Service" score, and placed 6th overall at the World Brewers Cup 2019, using our Takesi, Catuai.
Hi Dani, what's your first coffee memory?
My parents had a small and rather rickety espresso machine at home, and sometimes I tried to make coffee for them. But more often than not, I made a huge mess.
How did you get into making coffee?
I studied food science at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and got into some coffee research projects. I got hooked and only then learned to appreciate the beverage.
What inspired you to start competing?
I am an ambitious and very competitive person. As a former professional triathlete and once World Champion over the long-distance, I consider sports and also competing as a great life lesson on so many levels. Once I stopped competing in triathlons, coffee competitions were a great "replacement drug" for me. Competing helped me learn and develop my skills very quickly.
Why did you decide to use a coffee from Coffee Collective?
Ever since I started competing in coffee (mainly Brewers Cup), I always struggled with the gap between what we do on stage and what happens in a regular coffee shop. Thus, I was keen to find an affordable and commercially available coffee "off the shelf coffee " for competition. While I think The Coffee Collective is amongst the top roasters globally, it was also the company's philosophy and values that stood out, and that deserves a stage to influence the industry for the better, hopefully.
Why did you choose this coffee specifically?
I have a crush for Finca Takesi because it was one of the first and most memorable filter coffees I ever drank in a specialty coffee shop. It was in 2015, in Seven Seeds in Melbourne. I never forgot that cup, and if you have such a memory and get to use this coffee for a prestigious competition, that's pure goosebumps!
You went a slightly different route to some of the other competitors by choosing a washed, non-Geisha coffee. Why was this?
I'm stubborn, and I might have an over-expressed rebel gene. Which often leads to not going down a beaten path and instead, trying to find "my way." The current trend of using anaerobically fermented coffees for coffee is fascinating, but I cannot drink too much of those coffees. They are so overwhelmingly dense. The washed Catuai from Takesi was so sweet and had such a beautiful body that it was strong enough to stand up against the competition. I think you have less margin for error with my strategy, but this challenge fascinated me.
How did the judges receive your coffee?
They loved it, and some even thanked me for my choice. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I think for the judges, it can become slightly monotonous with the current flavor trends.
Are you planning to compete again?
This year I'm not competing. I don't know about 2021 and further out. But I just started my own company where I consult athletes in sports nutrition, and that takes a lot of my time. I have occasional freelancing projects within the coffee world, but I'm not as often at the shows or traveling the coffee sphere as I have been for the past several years.
If you do compete again, will you do anything differently?
I might have some minor changes in the compulsory part, but overall I would not change heaps. I have a few great friends that were in my team for more than just the Worlds in Boston. While you're alone out there on stage, what happens in the weeks and hours before, is just as important. So, a massive shout out goes to my friends! Without them, it would not have been possible, and I would have missed out on a whole lot of fun as well.
Do you have any advice for aspiring competitors?
First of all, competition is great because it's a chance to dig deep and immerse yourself in brewing one coffee and explore all its facets. If you do so, you will encounter a steep learning curve and profit from that way beyond the actual competition.
I think the best advice is to be curious and not taking anything for granted. Play around, challenge the status quo, go to the extremes, and try out different things. Watch the strong competitors from past years and learn from them, but don't become a clone. Make your personality an asset on stage. Make yourself comfortable working without watching your hands and speaking freely. Write and perform from the heart and don't just learn facts and talk like a dry encyclopedia.
Water amount: 230-240ml
Water temperature: 91-93
Water quality: 8ppm
We are very proud of Dani and feel privileged to of been a part of his journey. Check out Dani's presentation here!