Barista Champion of Finland

Editor’s note: As we approach the beginning of the 2014 World Barista Championship, which takes place in Rimini, Italy, June 9 “12, at the SCAE’s World of Coffee event, we would like to introduce you to the National Barista Champions who all worked incredibly hard to earn a position in this preeminent coffee contest. Profiles of all 54 competitors will appear on Barista Magazine’s blog between Monday, June 2, and Monday, June 9, and can all be accessed under the category header “WBC 2014 Rimini.”

Helka Ikonen
Cafe Art

Finland's Helka Ikonen
Finland’s Helka Ikonen

Coach: Joona Suominen

About you: I’m a 21-year-old student from Turku, Finland. Most of my time I’m reading or making espresso. I’m studying Pedagogics in the University of Turku and working as a barista in Cafe Art. While working in Cafe Art, coffee has become one of my main interests beside studying. I also like to run, meet my friends, and play music. Coffee may not be the thing I’m going to do for living in the future, but I’m quite sure It’s going to be a life-time friend of mine.

How many years have you worked with coffee or in the coffee industry?
About 2 years.

Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?
I’m now studying Pedagogics in the University of Turku.

How did you get started in coffee?
I first worked in a small cafe and learned to make espresso based beverages. I got more interested in coffee and started working in Cafe Art last August.

What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
I can’t name the first amazing experience. Many small experiences and decisions have led me here.

Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
Co-workers in Cafe Art. Thanks to them I became more interested in coffee.

What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
I think I don’t know the industry well enough to tell what I would like to see changed. Maybe focus should be more on the things that one can effect on. I think there is room for more consistency and objective quality when talking about espressos and the work baristas are doing.

Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
Ben Kaminsky, because I believe in the things his teaching.

Name a barista you admire, and why:
Matt Perger, because of the last year’s performance and I think his focus is on the right things.

Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
One couple has been visiting both cafes I’ve been working in and they are always smiling.

Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
When talking about Finnish cafes for example, Good Life Coffee in Helsinki.

Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
I have never visited any and therefore there are many coffee producing countries I would like to visit.

What are your interests outside of coffee?
Pedagogics and Psychology, running, and playing music.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It’s hard to say. I believe a lot will happen in the next five years and there are many possibilities where I might end up.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
All the co-workers in Cafe Art and Turku’s Coffee Roastery.

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