Photo: Lanny Huang
What is your current occupation and employer?
I am the Head Barista and Head Bartender at the Lord Erroll Gourmet Restaurant in Nairobi
List all the national and world coffee competitions you have competed in.
The 2019 World Barista Championship
The 2019 Kenya National Barista Championship – 1st Position
The 2019 Africa Barista Championship – 2nd Position
When and how did you decide to pursue a career in coffee?
My coffee career started last year in October 2018. This is when I held my first ever coffee machine at the Lord Erroll when I was handed over the duties of being a barista on top of being a barman. It has just been a learning curve and amazing experience to me until now that I am the Head Barista at the same institution.
How did you first decide to compete in a coffee competition?
My manager Mr. Jesse Wambugu came and told me that he had enrolled me into a coffee competition that I literally knew nothing about. But since I was very interested to learn about coffee, I decided to accept the challenge and learn, and look where I am now!
What’s the best piece of coffee-related advice you’ve received?
“Coffee is like a baby, to ensure a healthy growth you have to take care of all aspects about it”
Do you think your experience as a bartender has helped you with your work in coffee?
Yes, it has helped a lot. I believe with coffee it’s all about creation. And being a bartender, I create different cocktails almost on a daily basis. I have been able to try out different brew styles in coffee and come up with different coffee-based beverages at my bar.
How far in advance did you start training for WBC? How many hours a week do you train?
I started training for WBC as soon as I started training for the Local National competition. I believed that in the end I would represent Kenya at the World Championships and my dream came true. I trained on a daily basis throughout the week from 2pm to 9pm, 7hrs a day.
What is your favorite Urnex product?
I need my coffee tasting great for my customers every day, and that only happens from a clean machine without any oily residue. Cafiza clears away that residue in my espresso machine systems and ensures an amazingly clean group head. My clients owe Cafiza a big thank you for the flavorful, balanced and clean cups of coffee they always have.
What is your go-to beverage to order at a café?
What is the funniest or most memorable moment you have experienced behind the bar?
One night while on shift and making a cosmopolitan for one of my guests, I decided to do a bit of flair tricks. In the process of preparing one of my cocktails, the shaker flew directly at my guest- I knew that I had messed up since everyone at the bar was shocked and had their hands on their heads. Funny enough, my guest caught the shaker and tossed it back at me and everyone actually thought it was a bar trick and left them all cheering and clapping. They wanted me to try the same trick with them, and of course that was not going to happen.
What is your favorite brew method at home?
What is your favorite origin country, region or farm?
Kenya, Mamuto from Embu region.
What is unique about coffee culture in your country?
Kenya produces some of the best coffee in the world and has such diverse flavors. Awareness and growth in coffee has been picking up as well. Coffee acceptance within a tea consuming country is difficult but people are drinking more coffee these days.
How do you think that you as a coffee professional in Kenya can help coffee farmers in your country?
I feel proud to be representing a coffee producing country, and I want to help make their voices heard and come up with methods to address their challenges. Even though I might not be able to solve all of them, I know and believe I can get the message to the right people and ensure that the farmers are encouraged to look forward for the next planting season with a smile on their faces.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
My dream is to be a pilot, so I see myself as a captain in one of the major airlines changing the face of the aviation industry. I would also like to have a few coffee outlets since my interest in coffee has blossomed.