Sunday 23 June 2024
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“Coffee is social lubricant,” says Paul Bassett

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The premium coffee franchise Paul Bassett established its first store in Korea in 2009 and became such a success in a short time, that it expanded its business nationwide. However, not many coffee enthusiasts recognize that the brand takes its name after the former world champion barista from Australia.

Paul Bassett, the youngest champion and the first non-Scandinavian barista to win the competition, grew up in a family that ran a restaurant and a coffee shop.

“I grew up with a sense of texture and I was intrigued by the environment,” said Bassett during an interview with The Korea Times at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul, Saturday. “I was very competitive from when I was young and I was intrigued by espresso while working at my mother’s cafe.”

When Bassett turned 20, he traveled to Milan, Italy, walked into a random espresso bar and instantly fell in love with its culture.

He returned to Australia and experimented around with the coffee machine ― studying different variables, such as water temperature, compression and bean types.

When he felt his skills reached a certain level, his competitive nature urged him to participate in the World Barista Championship.


His first experience in international competition in 2002 gave him much insight about the tournament’s standards and what he needed so he could win the championship.

He was not satisfied with placing seventh, which he did in his first trial, so he returned to the World Barista Championship held in Boston the following year in 2003, winning the tournament at the age of 25.

“My parents always told me to do something that I love and am passionate about. Also, I think it was helpful that the Australian coffee industry at the time was definitely becoming progressive. If I had been from another country, perhaps, I would not have achieved what I have,” said Bassett.

The championship became an opening door moment for Bassett, in which he was offered the opportunity to lend his name to a coffee business in Japan.

Since then, he has been engaging in directing coffee menus in Paul Bassett stores although the brand’s business in Japan isn’t doing as well as it is in Korea. The coffee franchise opened its 71st store recently here.

“We open each store with a different interior design and architecture. We hope each store looks unique such that our customers can have the same experience in different looking spaces.

“Also Paul Bassett runs a shorter time to extract coffee to create a richer texture. It really creates a distinctive taste,” said Bassett about the secret of his coffee making skill.

The Australian added that drinking coffee contributes to boosting social activities as it falls in line with the notion of coffee being a “social lubricant.”

“Coffee brings people together. What is great about coffee is the taste and sense of well being people get from it. That consumers are demanding better quality in their coffee is exciting,” said Bassett.

Kim Jae-heun


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