Try Winston's Favorite
Urnex Product

"I use this product daily and in the most effective way. It has the biggest impact on my coffee of all the Urnex products. The Cafiza wipes have also been a big help cleaning grinders and stainless steel espresso machines."
Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder

Winston Thomas

Barista, Trainer, Consultant
South Africa

What is your current occupation and employer?
I am currently freelancing as a barista, trainer and a consultant.

List all the national and world coffee competitions you have competed in.
South African Aeropress Championships 2016 – 1st Place
World Aeropress Championships 2016 – First round
South African Barista Championships 2016, 2017 & 2018 – 8th, 1st and 1st place
World Barista Championships 2017 - 41st place
World Barista Championships 2018 – 32nd place

How did you get into the coffee industry? When did you know you wanted to turn your passion for coffee into a career?
A letter in my local newspaper by a new resident complaining about the bad coffee in town in 2012. This made me question the definition of a good cup of coffee, which led to a journey of exploration. Eventually I enrolled into a barista course in 2013 and after completing this I decided I wanted to work in coffee.

Who in the coffee industry has served as an inspiration to you?
Way too many to mention but most recently: the African baristas, roasters, Q-Graders and farmers I met at the recent AFCA conference earlier in 2018 have left a lasting impression on me!

What is the reaction you receive when you tell someone outside the coffee community that you are a champion barista competitor?
“There are competitions for coffee?!” Followed by, “You pay the bills by working in coffee??!”

What is your favorite Urnex product and why?
Urnex Cafiza powder. I use this product daily and in the most effective way. It has the biggest impact on my coffee of all the Urnex products. The Cafiza wipes have also been a big help cleaning grinders and stainless steel espresso machines.

What makes coffee culture unique in your country?
The coffee culture in South Africa is unique because of its infancy and its small size. The coffee professionals in South Africa are like a small family and together we try to educate the masses. In my opinion our culture is a hybrid of western third wave and traditional African culture because our diversity.

Outside of coffee, what do you do for fun?
I enjoy nature and sports. So I’ll be immersed in either or both at the same time if possible. So hiking, surfing or soccer. I also have taken a recent interest in photography so when I do have access to a camera I like to explore and capture images.

What is your favorite brew method at home and why?
Aeropress has been the most consistent since I bought my first one in 2013. Mainly because of its simplicity and ease of use but also the brewing diversity.

What’s one thing you’d like an average person to know about specialty coffee?
There is a reason why specialty coffee costs more. Please give me 5 minutes to explain this to you.

Where would you like to be and what would you like to be doing 5 years from now?
I would like to be more settled in South Africa, in terms of business specifically. At the moment I am enjoying travelling and competing and learning during these travels and competitions. 5 years from now I would like to be using these experiences to push the specialty industry forward in both South Africa and Africa.

You have competed at WBC twice now: what have you learned from your experiences competing in Seoul and Amsterdam? What are your plans for future competitions?
Seoul and Amsterdam were two completely different experiences. In Seoul most of the learning was about myself and the emotional and mental strain of competing in my first WBC. Amsterdam was a lot more competition learning focused. The do’s and don’ts and how to progress for future competitions. As for the future, I would like to compete at the WBC at least once more and progress to Semi-Finals and finals. Thereafter I would like to coach and help other African competitors progress in competitions.

You seem to have quite the infatuation with sneakers: how did that come to be? Is it at all related to coffee?
Haha I wouldn’t call it an infatuation, it is more of an appreciation. Similarly to how I grew to love specialty coffee and learn the difference between instant/commercial and specialty coffee, I started applying the same concept to my feet and choosing sneakers. I found the perfect fit with the Asics Gel V in 2015 and have bought the same sneakers in different silhouettes ever since.

Try Winston's Favorite Urnex Product

"I use this product daily and in the most effective way. It has the biggest impact on my coffee of all the Urnex products. The Cafiza wipes have also been a big help cleaning grinders and stainless steel espresso machines."
Cafiza® Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder