What is your current occupation and employer?
I am self-employed, and I have a training center in Istanbul.
List all the national and world coffee competitions you have competed in.
2019 World Barista Championship, 17th
2019 Barista Championship of Turkey, 1st
2018 Barista Championship of Turkey, 2nd
2017 World Barista Championship, 24th
2017 Barista Championship of Turkey, 1st
2017 Brewers Cup of Turkey, 2nd
2016 World Barista Championship, 37th
2016 Barista Championship of Turkey, 1st
2015 Barista Championship of Turkey, 2nd
When and how did you decide to pursue a career in coffee?
I was working as software engineer when I fell in love with coffee. I was competing while I was working a typical 9:00am to 6:00pm job. But just before 2017 nationals, I decided to quit the software job and start my own small coffee company, which provides a different coffee service for people in Turkey and neighboring countries. This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
How did you first decide to compete in a coffee competition?
I was watching the 2014 nationals with my future coach, and we were making jokes about it because the skill level was not very high that year. I told him “I can win this”, and he said “I can’t”, then I said “challenge accepted.”
What’s the best piece of coffee-related advice you’ve received?
When you prepare for competition, do not listen to everyone’s opinions and do what you want. It is your time, not others’.
What is your motivation for running your own coffee training center?
In all the years I have competed, the most difficult thing was finding a proper place to train and support. Before Dublin, I put a Black Eagle into my 4th floor apartment. My main objective to open a space to help other baristas during competition time, not only for worlds but also for nationals. With this venue, they will be able to practice in exact same layout as the competition. I have also collected many pieces of small equipment which are very helpful when you compete, so they can come and play with those as well.
The other reason for the training center is to educate baristas who will join the industry. I believe this is our main problem in Turkey. We are hosting small workshops to SCA certified trainings. I am not the only trainer here, I invite international trainers to do some courses and baristas have chance to see different approaches. Last month a friend of my came from Berlin and in March hopefully another friend of mine and my head judge from old competitions will do some SCA trainings as well.
How far in advance did you start training for WBC? How many hours a week do you train?
To be honest, to shape routine, I can say I started December 2017. I did 8 days routine training for 2019 nationals. Once you have everything in your mind, if you do 6 – 10 routines a day, you can make it perfect. But the hardwork is to build that routine and be familiar with your coffee. I am lucky because my coffee for nationals harvested and processed like 1 month before competition so I will use the same coffee which will help me a lot.
How is this competition season different for you returning as a national barista champion and WBC competitor?
I feel like I grew up. The more you see, the more you realize that you focused on wrong things. Now I am more relax and less stressed. I know what to do and it is not just all about me. The level of the competition is also another important value. I feel more confident because this year I started to roast my own coffee to reflect my thoughts and my ideas and after nationals I got a lot of compliment. Also I saw some of my crazy thoughts worked well and paid off such as blending a natural gesha and washed Castillo for milk based beverage which got 4.5 out of 6 on taste balance.
What is your favorite Urnex product and why?
Can I say two ? Cafiza and Grindz! I love Cafiza because it shows immediately how good it is! I always have one small package with me when I travel for consulting or training. Grindz, because lately I involved to Hemro Asia for some training and workshops and I got a lot of complainings about burr life, odors and oils. So it also help me to prove it is not because of grinder but the usage that damages the taste of your coffee and your equipment.
What is your go-to beverage to order at a café?
Batch brew. If they do not offer that, Americano. I am not good with milkies, and I like to drink my espresso from a porcelain cup.
What is the funniest or most memorable moment you have experienced behind the bar?
Most memorable was the time I was burnt by another barista with hot water in Novi Sad, Serbia when I was doing a guest shift at the last day of consulting J
Funniest moment was in 2017 in Seoul. My coach put 40 grams of coffee instead of 20 into my dosing cups. After competition he was smiling at me and I was using bad words to his face. :D
What is your favorite brew method at home?
I have one V60 when I brew 1 or 2 cups. If we have visitors, I use a one-liter French press.
What is your favorite origin country, region or farm?
I love coffees from El Salvador but lately I found that coffees from Colombia are just really good. Also I love natural Ethiopians. Farm, I can say lately I enjoy all coffees I have tasted from La Palma El Tucan.
What is unique about coffee culture in your country?
We do not drink coffee at breakfast! We drink after dinner till midnight. If you visit Turkey, you can see many coffee places are open till late. And, of course, Turkish Coffee!
Outside of coffee, what do you do for fun?
I lift weights which resets my mind. I have also started to swim two or three times a week. Lately I do a lot of water sports, since I run two coffee shops in Croatia on an island. #coolbarista
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I am planning to open a café and turn it into a small chain in different countries. I would also like to create a hub for all food and beverage craft people to celebrate and respect their craft and the food and beverages themselves. I would also like to help other baristas to compete and represent Turkey at high levels.