World Barista Champion 2018 Agnieszka Rojewska on the challenges for baristas
Agnieszka Rojewska, won the World Barista Championship in 2018, and now travels the world educating and competing on coffee.
How did you get into the coffee industry – what made you want to become a coffee professional?
My coffee career was an accident. After my first year of studying economics in Poland, I was having a summer break. My dad asked me to find a job and I left my CV in a coffee shop. At the beginning I enjoyed earning money but the thing first thing that dragged me in was latte art. So instead of sticking with the job for three months, I stuck it for three years.
I had a friend whosx was also passionate about coffee and we talked about opening up a coffee shop. We didn’t have enough money as baristas but someone invested in us. I was competing from the beginning and after a few years started to win competitions. After three years of having the coffee shop I won the Poland Latte Championships.
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
The moment I was happiest wasn’t winning any of the competitions. It was the first time I was in the final of the Polish National Barista Competition. I had just quit a job, had no money and no one expected me to be in the finals. When they announced my name all the community was shocked and I was shocked. I think that was the best moment.
When I entered the World Barista Championship 2018 nobody expected me to win it. I went there to hit 33rdplace as I was 34th in 2016 and I wanted to be better. My lowest goal was 33 and my top goal was to be top 10 because the best Polish competitor before had been in 10th place.
I thought that being from Poland, which is an Eastern European country that is not very developed in coffee, winning was impossible. There were people better prepared that had put more effort and investment into the competition. My routine was about customer service and not the geeky science stuff so it thought it was not ‘top of the top’ as it was too different and might be too simple.
When I won in my head I was WTF. Seriously, I was waiting a month for an email to say they had miscalculated the scores.
What are the key challenges facing baristas at the moment?
It is very difficult to be a barista and make a living. At some point you want to buy an apartment and have a family. If you want to be in the industry and be a barista you have to be really stubborn. You have to love it and really want to do it.
The one thing this industry has taught me is don’t plan ahead as something will happen and the opportunity will come. If you try to push yourself in a certain direction the opportunity might not come because this industry is evolving so fast.
You are showcasing at the European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Barista Masterclasses. Why do you think masterclasses are great for the sector?
I like the opportunity of sharing my point of view because it is not a very popular. The industry does not want to listen to us baristas because it is packed between green coffee, roasters and coffee shops, but we are at the very end of the chain.
I am there to hear the opinions of others. I think that hearing different points of view will make people more open-minded, because we all have our own views of coffee. We can all learn from each other.
As baristas not a lot of people listen to us. I want to be involved because I want to be the voice for the end of the chain.
- VA Machinery is the coffee machine and grinder sponsor of the Barista Masterclasses.
- Brita is also exhibiting on stand A15 in addition to co-sponsoring the Barista Masterclass.
- Lavazza is the official coffee sponsor for the Barista Masterclasses and will be exhibiting on stand D22 at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo.
- For more information on European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo, contact Sukhvir Hayre on +44 (0) 203 668 9809 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and check out stand and sponsorship options.
- Visitor registration is now open for the European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo. For FREE fast-track entry click here.
- The Barista Masterclasses will take place at the European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expobeing held at London’s Olympia on 21 to 22 May 2019.