Storm in a coffee cup!

Storm in a coffee cup!

Fritz Storm, coffee guru and barista coach, describes his journey through the coffee world as, “A little bit about coincidence, a little about luck and a lot of hardwork.” He was in the City recently where he spoke to ‘Metrolife’ about his trysts with the popular brew.

He narrates how he was initially an accountant but figured out that wasn’t what he wanted to do. “This was until the early 1990s, after which I started out as a bartender just to break out from the routine and do something new. It was just about being at the place at the right time – it happened that the place I was working at was going into coffee,” says the Danish brewer. He adds that all the “coffee talk” began in Europe from 1996 to 2000.

In 2002, he was declared the ‘World Barista Champion’. Talking about the competition, he says, “The Norwegians created a competition in 2000 – the first ‘World Barista Championship’ where my colleague competed. In 2002, I decided to compete. That’s where the hardwork and training comes in. You have to make four espressos, four cappuccinos and four freestyle drinks (no alcohol) in 15 minutes. Along with the time crunch, you will be judged on the taste of your drink, how it looks, your craftsmanship, general show performance and personality. You have to have a barista-customer relationship with the judge, where the judge is the customer.”

After his win, he became a barista coach and started ‘The Barista Camp’. “I was good at working with people and training them so my future was training baristas and having barista camps all over the world,” he says. According to him, most people try too hard these days, and that’s potentially problematic. “Too many try too hard. People go into, for instance, a competition or a job situation, and then say, ‘Ah, I want to win, that’s why I want to compete!’. That’s wrong in my opinion because that way you will never really succeed. It’s more important that you do everything you can and do it as good as possible.”

When asked how many cups of coffee he takes in a day, he nonchalantly says, “Ten, on a regular day, which isn’t too often. When I’m training, I usually have 20 cups.” And what is his idea of a perfect brew? “There’s nothing called a ‘perfect brew’ but I am trying to find this extraction that will stop at the right speed and right time so that I can get as many flavours as possible and wash away some of the negative ones as well, since I love espresso. If you ask a chef, he will say he gets better slowly, day by day; it’s the same, I’m much better now than before. The more skilled you get, the more you don’t look at rules and you know how to go with the feeling and instincts.”

He doesn’t know why he fell in love with coffee. “It just happens to be coffee. On National Geographic, you see all sorts of fascinating things, and it could have been any of them. Once I fell in love, it was a never-ending story because the coffee world is so complex; partly frustrating and partly fascinating.” On his visit to India, did he try any filter coffee? “Yes! We were rushing through the City and we had filter coffee on the streets. But it’s not about the drink itself – it’s also about who you are having it with. Something might taste wonderful on a holiday but when I take it home it might taste awful.” He later adds that the coffee was a little too sweet.    

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