Barista Champion of South Africa

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.”

Craig Charity
Lineage Coffee

South Africa's  Craig Charity
South Africa’s Craig Charity

Coach: Kyle Fraser

About you: Hi, I am the owner of Lineage Coffee, a coffee machine technician, roaster, and barista. I have a wife and 2 kids. I collect and modify coffee machinery in my spare time and have a dream of having my own range of professional home espresso machinery and equipment. I got into coffee through working in a private gym, they had a coffee shop downstairs and what started out being a caffeine fix became a search for a better cup, which is the reason I am bald now. I live in Waterfall, KZN, South Africa, a smallish suburb in a really nice part of the country, just on the edge of ‘the valley of a thousand hills’. I spend my workdays running the Lineage Coffee bar in Stretta Cafe, fixing other people’s machines and roasting coffee.

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

Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?
I worked as a Personal Trainer, I did this up until I went into coffee full time last year. I went to a technical high school which had subjects like wood work, metal work, welding, fitting and turning, electronics, etc., which has helped me quite a bit with the technical side of coffee.

How did you get started in coffee?
A friend of mine got into making coffee on a Moka pot. I got sucked in the process side of it there, and from there my wife bought me a domestic vibe pump machine. It sufficed for a while but I always wanted a commercial machine. I found a local roastery up the hill from me and they happened to have a single group Wega Mini Nova in pieces. They gave it to me for free and I started rebuilding it. Once I rebuilt it I gave it to a friend (a story for another time) and we started a mobile coffee business together. I used my recent knowledge of espresso machines to fix our first 2 group Cimbali M30 espresso machine. My friend that I started it with went overseas and I bought his half. I ran that for about a year and a half then sold it. I found a small Diedrich roaster on Ebay in LA for a good deal and bought that with the money that I made with selling the mobile coffee business. My dream had been to have a micro roastery, showroom for mostly home (professional) espresso machinery and cafe. I have no experience with food and knew that I would have to partner with someone who does. Last year I joined forces with Stretta Cafe, a simple but excellent Italian resturant. We created more of a cafe vibe by day and a restaurant by night. I will be opening the micro roastery next door when I get back from Worlds.

What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
My first amazing experience was pulling a shot from my first vintage lever espresso machine rebuild, a La Pavoni P67. It was fantastic to see that it worked, and see simplicity in design work so incredibly well.

Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
I think the community. IMHO passion will always stems from home, if it is just a job then you are fueled by money/business, not coffee. It’s not wrong, just different. In my experience, people that love coffee at home often have better theories and more passion than the salary paid coffee professional.

What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
Nothing really. It is moving into cool stuff and I am excited to see what happens next.

Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
Gwylim Davis. I would like to sit over a beer and talk crap about old lever machines for an hour.

Name a barista you admire, and why:
Anyone who can work a full time barista job and still love coffee.

Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
There is a group of ladies that I used to train when I was a PT, I always love seeing them walk into the cafe.

Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
Espressolab in Cape Town.

Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Guatemala…….you will hear why during my set.

What are your interests outside of coffee?
Family, fishing, music.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Possibly one more kid, a couple of more coffee outlets, my own house, and a coffee machine brand….I dunno, we will see.. For now I am just enjoying the place I am in.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
My wife, Kyle Fraser, Adam Bright, Andrew McGibbon, my Lineage and Stretta team, The Coffee Mag, Ben Carlson, Mark Bray, the South African coffee community, Home-Barista. And many more.

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