Come and see 2019 UK barista champion Paul Ross in action at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo today.
Paul Ross, wholesale manager of Kiss the Hippo, won the top accolade as 2019 UK Barista Champion. While Kiss the Hippo, which is based in Richmond, Surrey, celebrates its first anniversary Ross explains his journey to champion.
How did you get into the coffee industry and what made you want to become a coffee professional?
It has been a whirlwind. It started when I was studying Business Management at Southampton University. A guy called Grant Lang from Mozzo Coffee came in to talk about entrepreneurship and I asked him for a job one summer. He said no, but I convinced him to say yes and from there he introduced me into specialty coffee. I travelled a bit, came back to the UK and thought I was going to work in the City. Then I realised I didn’t like the City and went into coffee instead.
I started off with Harris + Hoole, who trained me to be a barista. We trained for something like three weeks before we were allowed in the shop at the time. I know Joshua Tarlo, the head of coffee at Kiss the Hippo, through Origin Coffee. When he said he was coming on board as the head of coffee he convinced me to come and start the wholesale department. As of January we started a wholesale department selling business to business.
What was your path to becoming UK Barista Champion?
It was a funny one. I have been competing for a few years now and it all started at Harris + Hoole’s internal competition, which I won. Then I competed every year at the UK Barista Championships, while I was working at Origin Coffee and Saint Espresso.
I did it for a number of the years and this year, Kiss the Hippo supported me. You never know with these competitions, as there can be such a marginal difference between the coffee and routines. I worked on my routine for about 13 months and though I thought it was good enough to win you, never really think they are going to say your name.
What has been your proudest moment in coffee so far?
Winning the championships was the one thing I had been aiming for since I started in coffee. The other thing is I coached for the first time last year for the 2018 World Coffee in Good Spirits Championships, which was a big moment. I was the coach of Dan Fellows and he won it this year. I was out in Brazil with him and watching him win was great, although I was more nervous watching him than competing myself.
What are the key challenges facing baristas and coffee shops at the moment?
On the frontline the biggest issue at the moment is speed of service. Everyone is getting quicker and we need to maintain quality but be quicker at it. People expect quicker service, better service and high quality. We invest in the right equipment, training of staff, shop design, layout and all of these things contribute to a second here and a second here. But ultimately good things take some time.
You are showcasing at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo Barista Masterclasses? What made you want to be involved?
It is the idea that we can all share our knowledge. I have been a barista for six years and this is my first back of house role behind the scenes. The idea is that we can share knowledge, talk about the experiences we have had and how we can improve. This is the first time I can connect with other business owners and talk about baristas from a barista perspective, while also applying the business knowledge and background.
- Paul Ross will be taking a Barista Masterclass today at 10.45 am.
- 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.
- Coffee Bay is the equipment supplier for the Barista Masterclasses and will be exhibiting on stand F26
- Stephen Leighton, founder of Hasbean Coffee, will be co-hosting the Barista and Roastery Masterclasses
- Glebe Farm is the oat drink providers for the Barista and Roastery Masterclasses and will be exhibiting on stand B8
- Brades Farm is the milk provider for the Barista and Roastery Masterclasses and is exhibiting on stand D36.
- 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 European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo held at London’s Olympia on 21 to 22 May 2019.