BARISTA CHAMPION OF AUSTRALIA
Barista Mag: Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?
Matt: I’ve been working in cafes or coffee shops since I was in high school. Other career choices would have been Industrial Design, Jazz Drumming, or Oenology (wine).
BMag: How did you get started in coffee?
Matt: I worked at a local cafe during high school, and was always trying to figure out why the coffee tasted so bad. Fortunately, all roads led to specialty.
BMag: What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
Matt: The first amazing espresso I ever had was from Single Origin Roasters in Surry Hills, Sydney. It was an Ethiopian Sidamo and back then, it tasted like liquid chocolate and honey.
BMag: Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
Matt: My greatest influence in coffee is Scottie Callaghan. When I was entering the barista competition arena he was the current champion of Australia and I always watched his routines for clues. He was always generous with his time and gave me plenty of advice – even when we were competing against each other!
BMag: What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
Matt: I would like to see a peer review system amongst specialty roasters and cafes.It would have to be professional, constructive, and welcomed by all to work; but once in place we could improve at a far greater rate.
BMag: Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
Matt: I would like to meet Scott Rao. We have talked via email about many a thing, but have yet to meet. Scott’s opinions and theories on coffee extraction have always been ahead of his time and I’d love to taste some coffee alongside him.
BMag: Name a barista you admire, and why:
Matt: I admire Charles Babinski. He is the most likeable and sincere barista that I’ve ever met in the international community. His passion for sharing taste experiences with other humans is astonishing and I wish I had the same skills for customer service. We wish we could be competing against each other in Melbourne, but unfortunately he came a close second in the USBC.
BMag: Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
Matt: My favorite customer is a man named Adam Rozencwajg. He is a well known customer amongst many Melbourne institutions and a prolific coffee drinker. He’s always ready for a laugh and his consumption of cheese is legendary.
BMag: Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
Matt: I think everyone should visit Patricia Coffee Brewers, Everyday Coffee, Auction Rooms, and Proud Mary.
BMag: Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
Matt: I’d love to visit Kenya, because it’s my favorite style of coffee and the infrastructure for buying/tasting visits is well established.
BMag: What are your interests outside of coffee?
Matt: All manner of food, wine, tasty and delicious things.
BMag: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Matt: I’d love to be more involved in equipment design and manufacture while still keeping a firm foothold in roasting and brewing.
BMag: Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
Matt: Benjamin Kaminsky. This man is at the top of his game. I dare you to find a coffee professional who is more proficient at roasting, brewing, tasting, and buying: all simultaneously. Without him I wouldn’t have been as competitive at the national level, and my rountine for WBC wouldn’t be anywhere near as progressive.