The barista trainer at Ireland’s Bewley’s Coffee discusses his last-minute entrance to the World Barista Championship and making the finals.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of World Coffee Events
The baristas competing at the 2021 World Barista Championship (WBC) faced very unusual circumstances: With the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the 2020 WBC, most of them had to wait close to two years after winning their national titles for the chance at the world’s stage, then had only a few months to prepare after it was announced the 2021 World Barista Championship would take place in Milan, Italy, in October 2020.
For Wojciech Tysler of Ireland, the 2021 WBC was even more unpredictable. For one, Wojciech didn’t win his national competition, but when the 2020 Barista Champion of Ireland, Sarah Hannaway, deferred her place, Wojciech gamely stepped in—only a month before WBC. And for another, Wojciech was the 2020 Cup Tasters Champion of Ireland, which meant he’d be taking part not just in the WBC in Milan, but also in the World Cup Tasters Championship (WCTC) there.
The surprising opportunity to do double duty in Milan left Wojciech with little time to prepare for either competition. And while he was disappointed to not advance out of the first round of the WCTC, he more than made up for it in the WBC. Having been Ireland’s representative at the 2019 WBC in Boston—where he placed 20th—Wojciech was familiar with the stage, and made a spirited run through the rounds before making the finals, where he placed sixth in the world.
We talked to Wojciech about preparing for competition, staying true to himself, and more.
Chris Ryan: Many baristas had to wait a long time for the WBC because of the global pandemic. When did your national competition take place, and how long did you have to wait?
Wojciech Tysler: I did the Irish Barista Championship (IBC) in February 2020—just before the pandemic—and came in second, not first. I thought I was out and WBC in Melbourne was over for me, so I didn’t even feel the gap. I even started making plans for the next year’s IBC, but the pandemic arrived and everything stopped.
Once the Milan event was announced, you had a short time to prepare, and you were also competing in World Cup Tasters! What were those three months like? Did you feel like you got enough time to prepare for both competitions? Did you make a lot of changes to your WBC routine from what you did to win the Ireland Barista Championship?
When Milan was announced, it didn’t mean much to me at first because I was not the one who won IBC 2020. But everything completely changed when I received a phone call from SCA Ireland with two messages. The first was that the 2020 Irish Barista Champion (Sarah Hannaway) had deferred her place and gave me a chance to compete in WBC Milan. The second message was that the competition was in 27 days, so I had not even a month for preparation. I was excited and scared at the same time, but I agreed without any hesitation. I barely slept that night and showed up in the office at 6 a.m. the next day. There was no time for a new routine. I made some changes but kept the concept from IBC 2020. I focused on WBC so did not have much time left for Cup Tasters. I wish I could have had more time and prepared better for WBC, but it was not possible.
What was the experience of competing in the WBC in Milan like for you? To what do you attribute your success?
To be honest, I was not feeling confident when I went to Milan, probably because of the little time of preparation. I decided to do my best and just be myself. There was no time for overthinking. I think that made me more relaxed, and I really enjoyed the first run. When I went to the semifinals, I was extremely happy and got more confident. I actually started to believe that I could do even better. So in the semifinals I was again myself, but with more confidence, and that must have been the key to the success. I never enjoyed performing so much as in this WBC.
Finally, can you tell us about what you do in Ireland and your day-to-day work?
Enjoy life. 🙂 I work for Bewley’s Coffee coffee as a barista trainer, where I train people how to better understand coffees and be a better barista. In my free time I spend time with family—riding mountain bikes, playing golf, and enjoying playing on PlayStation. 🙂