Life after World of Coffee
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
I know I haven’t been updating you guys the way i should, but bear with me….it's been quite busy. But let me start at where my journey took off this time…
After World of Coffee
In June I made it to the finals in Berlin of the world stage in the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championships. This is so far my biggest achievement ever, and probably the hardest I have ever worked in my entire life. I was lucky enough to place 5th in the world, alongside some incredible coffee professionals.
During this crazy period, I made a decision. I am moving to Canberra, the capital of Australia, to grow, to learn and to live life; all with the very strong motivation to go back to the competition stage. So in June, I booked my flights and the day was set: 14th of October. That gave me four months in Europe, so I had to make the most of it.
Once you make finals in a world coffee competition, you get this huge opportunity to finally spread you coffee message to the world and then the real work starts. World Coffee Events (WCE) had given me a stage and a big platform, now it was on me to use it.
At first, I needed a rest. So after the World of Coffee (WOC) expo that hosted the competition, I took a short holiday and spent some very very important quality time with my boyfriend in Italy. I had to relax and calm down, find myself again and realise what happened and what I had achieved. After I had returned to Berlin, I did a lot of sports, bouldering, yoga and just actively hang out with people I love because I wasn’t really able to do this during my training for Coffee in Good Spirits.
As a good German, after my holiday, it was time to get Alles In Ordnung, so before I went to Australia I needed to book a very important appointment: getting my wisdom teeth removed. About three months before I had looked after a friend who had hers removed, and we spent the week lying in bed, eating ice cream, spargle, and watching super hero movies. Unfortunately, my time schedule didn't afford me the same luxury, and the day after getting them removed I was already back at work. This was quite challenging, and also very confrontational as it was the first item on my checklist for preparing to leave Berlin, which has been my home and my whole world for the last 10 years, and resulted in a lot of emotions coming to the surface about my growth and experiences that I've had while living here.
Travel and Training
Shortly after, I was ready to get back into the coffee world and start accessing the opportunities coffee and good spirits has given me – and begin to take maximum advantage of the few remaining months I had left living in Europe - so my first trip was to Italy, where I visited Vittorio Arduino headquarters and took part in the SCA Barista professional training certificate. All up this was a great summer experience which I could use to learn more about coffee, tasting, and technique.
Back to Berlin and straight into the cafe! However, soon afterwards I was approached by some coffee professionals from Belfast who own The Pocket, a beautiful coffee shop in Northern Ireland, who asked me to consult for them in the opening of their second venue. As I had never been to Belfast, I decided to take this opportunity to expand for my own experience in consultation. So at the start of September, I flew over and gave barista trainings to all of the staff, help work out the optimal work flow for their new bar and on the second day, made drinks at their opening party of their new venue.
Belfast gave me insight into the wonderful warm and passionate people who are working in the coffee industry and gave me fond memories of great hospitality, dedication, and amazing people. I was so happy that I decided to take the job as I welcomed with so much love from people within hospitality and re-instilled my own ambitions.
Later that month, a friend of mine approached me to help him with training for the Tirol Barista Championship. Between Belfast and this invitation, I had the revelation that I was being recognised for my own achievements and gradually being recognised as a reputable person in the coffee industry. After everything that has happened, this is still crazy to me - however, I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had, and all the new ones that I have been able to have recently.
So, I quickly flew to Frankfurt shortly after Belfast, to give my friend a two day intensive training where together we designed his entire stage time from workflow, to recipes, and signature drink. Considering we only had two days, and it was his first time participating in this competition, I was incredibly proud oft he points he made – and although he didn't place where he wanted to place, this experience was enough to light a spark in his fire and for him to want to compete again, and train even harder.
Being in a position to inspire and motivate people like that has been the most rewarding and humbling experience I have ever come across in my professional career in coffee. I will carry this forever in my heart.
Only a week later, the biggest opportunity after the WOC was at my doorstep – I was to fly to China, as I had been invited by WCE to take part in the All Stars Quingdao 2019, a three day event with some of the worlds best in coffee. To be honest, I was terrified. Not just terrified because I would be sharing the stage with so many world champions in the coffee industry, but also (as some people might know) because I'm terrified of traveling by myself!
One of the main reasons I was so tense travelling by myself was because it was the first time I was gong to a country where I knew I would have limited communication abilities. Not only considering language barriers, but also social media restrictions, meaning I would be cut off or limited to connecting with the people I was normally in contact with, and those who I reach out to for help.
Annnnnyway, I found myself at Tegel Airport travelling to Amsterdam on the 22nd of September, then from there to Guangzhau, and finally to Quingdao – where I had a little bit of a celebrity moment. I was picked up at the airport by a person holding a sign which read: Nicole Battefeld, All Stars. I really had to smile and acknowledge the happiness I had within myself and my achievements. SO I bounded up to the driver and said "Thats me!“ It was the best. I really felt like a super star.
From the airport I was taken to my hotel where I met James and Kayla, who work for WCE and took care of all of the All Star Champions throughout the trip. They were freaking amazing!
So, What do you have to do as an All Star?
We had an itinerary for each day, which were divided in two stages, the first stage being the Espresso Bar. This part of the day consists of making espresso and entertaining the audience. The second stage focused on Filter Coffee, with the same interaction with the audience. After that there were a couple of group challenges, meaning the Alls Stars went head to head, at the categories were: Latte art, Signature beverage and Coffee cocktails (my favourite).
For these competitions, I had to go to the local market daily to collect new and different ingredients to incorporate into my drinks. I ended up working with components that I've never used or even heard of before, and was the most creative I have been to date while being on stage. This was a huge challenge for me and I had to trust in my intuition and theoretical knowledge to help me through this. This happened to be a wonderful success, as to my surprise my drinks turned out stunningly and were very well received by the audience. I was very happy with myself and reinforced my confidence within my own capabilities.
On the third day of the convention the All Stars were asked to give a Champions Talk, where we were invited to speak about our experiences and challenges of how we made it to the world Stage. Tim, who placed second in the world CiGS championships in Berlin, was speaking in Mandarin and I was not able to understand anything, but after his talk he translated what he said to me, that when he was on stage in the finals of Coffee And Good Spirits 2019 he felt like he was "Dancing with the giants.“
I asked him "What do you mean?“ and he explained that he felt so lucky to be in the finals with all of these big names, including me, and again I didn't really understand what he was saying,He looked at me and said "you are the German Barista champion, you have competed sever al times, and it was an honour to share the stage with you." I couldn't reply. I was speechless and so awestricken that someone like the world number two would think so highly of me. I felt so honoured and proud, and I will never forget this moment, and never forget my love and respect for the people in this community.
After the three days of the convention were finished, I was picked up and we travelled by train to Beijing, where I was asked to run a barista training. I taught my students how to cup coffee, how to extract it in an espresso machine and how to brew coffee as a filter. On the second day of the training we went more creative and I asked my students to create coffee cocktails (under my direction) and we ended up with a bunch of new recipes for amazing drinks. I was so proud of all oft hem and how dedicated they were to learning about coffee and good spirits.
My trip to China was my furthest journey that coffee ever took me, and I am so glad that I was invited to attend this convention, for the experiences, connections, and opportunities it gave me, and the insight and inspiration I have taken home from it.
Now, writing this, I am back in Berlin, in my neighbourhood of 10 years, at my local pizza shop after a 14 hour flight and I'm about to embark on the next challenge tomorrow - the 2019 Berlin Coffee Festival. During this festival, I will be taking part in many events and sharing the best of the German coffee industry with the rest of Europe, alongside some incredible coffee professionals. After the festival, I'll then go straight into working at the Berlin Bar Convention, where I will be presenting cocktails and speaking about Coffee and Good Spirits, before leaving this Berlin life behind for Australia in exactly 12 days. What a wild time!!
Onwards and upwards to new challenges, adventures, friends, and opportunities. I am so privileged as to how far I have come and achieved within coffee, and how much the industry has given back to me.
I hope that my experiences over the past few years and my personal journey show some people that despite self-doubt and a lot of trials and failures, if you do what you love and work hard, that's what really matters.