What’s not to love about a good cuppa especially when it's made by the 2018 World Brewers Cup Championship 1st Runner Up! With that said we caught up with the award-winning barista Regine Wai during Malaysia’s Coffee Fest 2019 that took place in One Utama from the 25th to the 28th of July 2019.
The Malaysia Coffee Fest is an annual event and one of the largest coffee festivals in Malaysia where various coffee brands and tea are present. The festival functions as a platform for brands to showcase to both trade and consumers what they have to offer in terms of latest products and innovations. The 3rd edition Malaysia Coffee Fest saw the likes of local and international coffee bean roasters such as Mister Coffee, Nespresso, Roastedly, The Roast Things and JWC.Roastery. Aside from that there were also coffee bean specialists such as Dankoff Coffee Specialist, suppliers like Maven Coffee Store, coffee distributors and manufacturers present.
Malaysia’s leading coffee academy dubbed Barista Guild Academy organized various workshops on how to make the perfect brew for the public to partake. These workshops include Espresso Yourself, Introduction to Basic Latte Art, Latte Art for Kids, Coffee Brewing Made Easy, and The Journey from Bean to Cup.
The festival was filled with coffee and tea enthusiasts and those curious as to what was taking place. There were numerous booths in the center of the mall offering various coffee and tea samples alike, some were selling pastries to go with the hot brews. Wai was stationed at the Roastedly booth slightly away from the crowd demonstrating and offering tips on how to make the perfect brew.
With the crowd around the coffee booths it posed as a challenge for an interview session as it was noisy, but Wai obliged by talking louder. Our conversation took place at the side of the booth while she prepared for a second siphon demonstration.
What would be the highlight of your barista career?
It would be enhancing my coffee making knowledge with a three day course at Barista Guild Asia on the basics followed by a practical and theory test and to go on to represent Malaysia in various Barista Championship competitions.
What is your favourite brewing method and why?
My favourite brewing method is siphon. In my opinion this immersion method allows you to control the temperature throughout the brewing process. By increasing the temperature, it will fully maximize the extraction with appropriate time control. Hence results in producing consistent extraction yield as compared to other brewing methods.
What would your advice be to those wanting to pursue a career in this field professionally?
Do not be carried away by the title itself but focus on your direction in the long run and the outcome you seek. Ask yourself what is next once a skill is mastered, would you proceed to become a coffee roaster or to open up your own cafe etc. Never forget the importance of enhancing a customer’s experience as it is essential.
What were some of the challenges you faced when preparing for the competition?
Time was the biggest factor as I had a corporate job so practicing time was limited. I would also need the whole team to be present as that is how I get feedback on how to improve the coffee as their input is important to me. Not only my schedule but the team’s schedule needs to be taken into consideration.
Why coffee? Not anything else like tea/cocktail?
Because I love coffee and I want to improve my knowledge when it comes to coffee and continue to represent Malaysia in coffee competitions! It's a never ending learning process.
What is the current coffee trend?
Specialty coffee, many customers are curious about the coffee their drinking and where the beans are from. Specialty coffee may be expensive but it's worth every penny as a lot of hard work goes into attaining the beans and to producing the perfect aromatic blend.
Regine’s Wai’s achievements:
- 2015 Malaysia Brewers Cup Champion
- 2016 Malaysia Siphonist Champion
- 2016 World Siphonist Championship - 1st Runner Up
- 2017 World Siphonist Championship- 2nd Runner Up
- 2018 Malaysia Brewers Cup Champion
- 2018 World Brewers Cup Championship -1st Runner Up