WBC Countdown: Barista Champion of South Africa Lovejoy Chirambasukwa


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Barista Mag:  Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?

Lovejoy:  I worked in the hospitality industry before and then as a lint classer. After that I was able to get myself a job at Origin Coffee Roasting.

BMag:  How did you get started in coffee?

Lovejoy:  I was just job hunting and didn’t have any job as I had just relocated from my country. I then got an opportunity from a guy who was training baristas for Origin at the time and I went for my training. After my training I was told to come back as I had shown some promise and talent, and from there it has been some good fun.

BMag:  What was your first amazing experience with coffee?

Lovejoy:  The moment I tasted great coffee for the first time. It was heavenly.


BMag:  Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?

Lovejoy:  Well, I have been fortunate to meet quite a number of coffee legends, and Wayne [Oberholzer, Barista Champ of South Africa in 2012]  has been a very big inspiration. I have the guys who roast for us at Origin Coffee, Mike and Jorge, who have been very instrumental in helping me grow and further understand this widely complex product. I have learned quite a lot from these guys and I still get inspired by some of the coffee greats from outside of this continent where I live.

BMag:  What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?

Lovejoy:  I would like to see more engagement, especially between the baristas and farmers. There are a few barista exchanges and forums around, but I would like to see more involvement between farmers of different regions and countries. Baristas already network in a great way through social media, but think we need to engage far more.

BMag:  Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:

Lovejoy:  I am very excited that this year at the World Barista Championship I get to meet my favorite coffee luminary, Mr. Colin Harmon. I have watched several of his sets, his one from the recent WBC in Vienna really spoke to me about how I see what our coffee community is all about.

BMag:  Name a barista you admire, and why:

Lovejoy:  Wayne Oberholzer of Origin Coffee Roasting, a close colleague who is always willing to push the boundaries and who is always willing to help. He has a never-say-die attitude.

BMag:  Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.

Lovejoy:  My boss, Joel Singer, is a very good critic of my work who has helped me rise through the ranks. Sounds strange as he does not pour a great cup himself, but he has the ability to criticize and create something out nothing.

BMag:  Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?

Lovejoy:  Prufrock. I think there is so much to learn from the guys there. Their approach to coffee and the service to the client is something that I aspire to give my clients every day. After all, we are in the service industry.

BMag:  Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?

Lovejoy:  Ah, that’s easy: Kenya. I have fallen so much in love with coffees from this country and I would love to spend some time with farmers there.

BMag:  What are your interests outside of coffee?

Lovejoy:  Farming, as I grew up doing this. But I have a love for great music, as well as spending time with my family. That is always important to me.

BMag:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Lovejoy:  I think for most people in this type of industry, it naturally becomes the goal to own or run my very own cafe. I would love to extend it to a training school, and a place for people to enjoy both the taste and educational sides of coffee.

BMag:  Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?

Lovejoy:  I would like to thank all the guys from Origin who gave me the courage to take part in this competition; the roasting team and my coach who spend their spare time helping me out; and Joel, my boss, for investing heavily in me on this journey. Also, South Africa as a whole for letting me represent the country at the World Championships, and SCASA for all their efforts in making sure that the competition has been a success. The list is endless. A big thank you to all who believed in me.

About Sarah 934 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.

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