We talk to the London-based winner of October’s Coffee Masters competition in New York City about his coffee background, his experience on the competition stage, and more.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover photo courtesy of Coffee Masters
In late October of this year, competitors flocked to Coffee Masters NYC 2022, a barista competition produced by Allegra Events that took place at the New York Coffee Festival. The competition tested seven disciplines in coffee pros’ wheelhouses, including cupping, brewing, and completing a signature drink. As the competition proceeded, the 16 competitors were whittled down to one champion: Davide Orazi, coffee operations manager at WatchHouse in London. We talked to Davide about persevering on the big stage, camaraderie among coffee competitors, and much more.
Barista Magazine Online: Can you tell me how you started working in coffee and how long it has been?
Davide Orazi: I started working in coffee back in Italy, where I started learning basic barista skills and worked at a few bars in restaurants and hotels. But I really got into specialty coffee when I moved to the U.K. in 2015. Here I quickly realized how much the industry had to offer and decided it was the path I wanted to take. Specialty coffee keeps evolving daily, and that is what really attracted me to it—being able to always learn something new or different.
Can you tell me a bit about your job as coffee operations manager at WatchHouse, and what you do there?
I mainly deal with anything operational on the coffee side of things in our sites, such as quality control, barista trainings, and brand standards. I also focus on the opening of our new shops, organizing machinery installs, coffee trainings, and anything that comes with opening a coffee shop.
I see you placed third at the Coffee Masters in London this year. What do you like about the competition, and why have you continued to compete in it?
I love the format of Coffee Masters, as it allows you to be completely yourself on stage and with the judges. It tests the competitors in every skill set, which does not happen in any other competition. It is also unpredictable, which makes the competition a lot more interesting and fun. It definitely pushes you to be a better all-rounder and professional rather than focusing on a specific skill set.
How did you prepare for the New York Coffee Masters competition?
Knowing the competition in a lot more detail—having competed in London already—definitely helped me understand exactly what I needed to focus on. As there are seven disciplines, I wanted to dedicate each training session to a specific one. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by great professionals and an amazing coach with a variety of unique skill sets, so I asked them to train with me on different days of the week to really make the most of every session.
What was your experience like at Coffee Masters New York?
What amazed me both in New York and London was how close and supportive each competitor and team is with each other. This also goes for everyone working behind the scenes, such as organizers and backstage helpers. They were always there to help and support us competitors with anything we might need, and they made sure that everything went smoothly.
Finally, did anything go particularly well that you credit with helping you win?
After London Coffee Masters, I realized I had to spend more of my time on latte art, as it was something I had not really focused on in the past. It ended up being a good advantage in all of the latte art rounds. I do need to give most of the credit to my coach, Lukas Haertel, who spent every training session with me pushing me to do better and better every time. Also to everyone who helped us, gave us feedback, and supported us during our training sessions, thank you! Not settling for a good outcome but striving for excellence is what definitely played a big role in the victory.