MILAN – We are still fresh from the World Barista Championships that took place in Melbourne: among the challengers in the barista category, the overall winner was Anthony Douglas, who among all the competitors in the world stood out with his skills on the platform. We couldn’t help but ask how the coffee training manager for Axil Coffee Roasters arrived at this milestone, his secrets to win – starting from the coffee he chose, an anaerobic natural Sidra produced by Nestor Lasso on his farm, El Diviso in Huila, Colombia – and finally, his next projects. And also, you can discover more about him as a professional, at his instagram account here.
Douglas, first of all congratulations: how does it feel to be the best barista in the world?
“It’s an incredible feeling. Something I’ve dreamt of for years so for it to finally come into fruition is very special.”
But you being Australian, we can say that you have coffee (specialty and filter especially) in your blood: how is the scene in your place of origin?
“As a lot of people know the coffee scene here particularly in Melbourne is very big. We’re a heavy espresso based culture compared to some other parts of the world and a lot of our cafes are quite high volume.”
Can you tell us about your ordeal? Which coffee did you bring and why did you select that one, how did you enhance it in extraction and roasting, the study behind it (how did you train before the actual competition), the presentation on the platform?
“The coffee I used was an anaerobic natural Sidra produced by Nestor Lasso on his farm, El Diviso in Huila, Colombia. The coffee itself is very big in flavour so a lot of the roasting was tailored around refining the tannins and processing influenced flavours in the coffee, and my extraction style leant towards longer yields to soften the intensity in the cup and create more sweetness.”
What do you think led him to win the world title?
“It was combination of things but something in particular we did exceptionally well this year is we explored every variable we possible could. We left no stone unturned, so when I set foot on stage I had complete confidence that there was nothing more we could have done.”
Douglas, did he enjoy it? Was the competition stimulating in confronting baristas from all over the world?
“I had a lot of fun. I felt privileged to just be participating in a world level championship for the first time in my life and was just happy to be there.”
To whom would you like to dedicate this important victory?
“I feel this victory represents not only myself but also the team of people around me, my coaches David Makin, Jack Simpson and Matt Crowley. It’s something we’ve all worked very hard for over the years and it’s great to bring home a victory as a team.”
And now, what do you think will change in your life as a trainer manager at Axil Coffee Roasters?
“Well my role has now changed to Research & Development. There will definitely be a lot more travel on the horizon promoting myself and Axil Coffee Roasters, coaching, judging and other adventures I’m sure.
As the best barista in the world, we want to ask you a question: in your opinion, what will or should the professional behind the counter of the future be like (assuming you still see him behind the counter of a coffeeshop…)?
“I feel the role of the barista is to bridge the gap between specialty coffee and the customer, through serving experiences that best represent the coffee and everything that goes into it, and sharing it in a way that is approachable, allows the customer to appreciate the coffee being served, and encourages further exploration of specialty coffee where possible.”