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.”
BARISTA CHAMPION OF SWEDEN
Coach: Rebecka Thurfjell
About you: My name is Tobias Palm and I work as a barista and coffee roaster for Johan&Nystrom. I started to work with coffee 2011 when I started up a small coffee bar together with my best friend. One year later I moved to Stockholm and started to work as a barista for Johan&Nystrom. I started to compete in coffee 2013 and it went good, I won the Swedish Cup Taster Championship, second place in the Swedish Barista Championship, and Nordic Barista Cup Champion. My passion for specialty coffee grew stronger so that led to my best friend and I ”the same that I had a coffee shop together with ”started a coffee podcast in the beginning of 2014. The interest for the podcast has grown strong in Sweden and it’s fun to see how people more and more are starting to like specialty coffee. In this competition I hope that this passion will show and that the judges will be able to enjoy my coffee just as much as I do.
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?
Before I started to work with coffee I worked as a youth leader in a church.
How did you get started in coffee?
After a trip to Ethiopia I got my first coffee grinder and started to get more and more interested in coffee.
What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
My first amazing experience with coffee was when I was in Ethiopia and I was sitting late at night together with an Ethiopian family around the fire, and the mother in the family made me coffee. She put so much love and passion into the cup, so that experience is still one of my best coffee moments so far!
Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
My best friend and colleague, Max Andersson. From the [first] day of my coffee career, we have done everything together and he has always helped me, trained me, and been pushing me forward. He is one of the biggest reasons why I made it here to Rimini.
What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
It’s hard for me to say what I would like to see changed in the world. But in Sweden I would love to see more people from different cultures and backgrounds show and present coffee from their own countries. I would also like to see more cafes make a greater experience for the customers who drink their coffee, just like nice restaurants do that little extra for their customers when they present their food.
Name a barista you admire, and why:
My colleague Eskil Ingvarsson. Eskil is passion. I can really admire that passion he has for his work.
Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
I seriously have the best customer in the world. His name is Lasse. He is an old artist and he is coming to our bar two times every day. Always with a smile and if you play the right music he gives you some amazing cakes.
Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
In Stockholm I always recommend Mean Coffee and Drop Coffee.
Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
I competed last year in the Swedish Barista Championship with a coffee from the farm Un Regalo Del Dios in Nicaraqua, and since then I have been dreaming of going and visiting that farm.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
I am interested in football and I am a big AC Milan fan. Forza Milan!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope I am an amazing coffee roaster and I hope I had traveled to more coffee-producing countries.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
I have so many to say thanks to! First my wife Jennifer, who’s always supporting me in everything! I also want to say thanks to “Team-Tobbe”, Erica, Max, and Rebecka. They are so great and help me with everything! Thanks!