An exclusive interview with Jane Caposas Espanti, third place winner in the 2023 UAE Coffee Championship
Step into the aromatic world of specialty coffee as we unravel the remarkable journey of Jane Cabusas Espante, the accomplished barista, and coffee trainer who secured the 3rd position in the fiercely competitive 2023 UAE Coffee Championship. In this exclusive interview, Jane shares her evolution from a barista to a coffee trainer, her experiences and challenges in the national competition, and the significant milestones that define her flourishing career in the coffee industry.
- Introduction and Background:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in the world of coffee?
I’ve spent 8 years in the specialty coffee industry, transitioning from a barista role to becoming a coffee trainer of Behind the Cup (Hoof Cafe and The Hut). I was introduced to specialty coffee by Fred, who took me to work at Stomping Grounds in Jumeirah 8 years ago – a specialty coffee hub.
- UAE Coffee Championship 2023:
Congratulations on winning the third place in the 2023 UAE Coffee Championship! Can you share your experience participating in the competition and what this achievement means to you?
As my first time participating in the National Competition, it brought a mix of excitement and fear. The competition featured the strongest lineup, making it quite challenging. Securing the third position is of great significance for me, as the achievement is not solely my own but a collective result of the support I have received from my team since the beginning.
How does it feel to win the third place in the 2023 UAE Coffee Championship?
It felt amazing! Winning third place exceeded my expectations. Being in the top 6 already made me very happy. I feel blessed to have had a team supporting me throughout this journey, and I owe this achievement to them.
Can you share some insights into your competition journey and the challenges you faced?
I’ve been attempting to enter the competition since last year, but unfortunately, I couldn’t secure a spot despite being prepared. So this year, I took a chance and registered. To my surprised I got in, but I got less than two weeks for practice and preparation, but it was all made possible because of the team. What motivated you to participate in barista competitions, and how do you prepare for such events? Being surrounded by individuals engaged in coffee competitions has fueled my desire to embrace the challenge. Witnessing how these people utilize this platform to influence and inspire the coffee community is amazing.
Are there any specific moments or aspects of your routine that you find particularly challenging or rewarding during competitions?
The challenge lies in achieving consistency in flavor, mastering brewing techniques and communicating the story behind the coffee selection to the judges and of course, the technical precision.
- Signature Drinks and Techniques:
Can you share some details about your signature coffee drinks or unique techniques that you showcased during the championship?
I’ve showcased a coffee from Jose Luttrell of Abu Coffee in Panama. It’s a Gesha Variety, anaerobic natural processed, with prominent notes of Strawberry, Peach, and Sweet Orange. I have used a flat bottomed immersion dripper called Trio Immersion as it allows a greater control throughout the brewing process which can lead to a more consistent, even extraction and well balanced cup.
- UAE LAGS Battle Red Jug Champ 2022:
Winning the UAE 2022 Latteart Grading System Battle Red Level Category is remarkable. Can you tell us about the competition and the inspiration behind your winning performance?
Joining was not part of the plan. I was encouraged by a friend to participate. Basically, its a latte art throwdown where designs are assessed based on symmetry, contrast, and how identical to the chosen pattern using a grading system. It was luck!
- Barista of the Year Award 2021:
Being awarded the Barista of the Year Award21 is a significant honor. What does this recognition represent for you, and how did you approach the competition to stand out among other talented baristas?
Receiving the Barista of the Year Award highly commended in 2021 by Caterer Middle East Awards is an honor. It signifies not only personal achievement but also recognition within the industry.
Processing and SCA Barista Professional Certification:
As a certified Q Processing Professional and SCA Barista Professional, how have these certifications influenced your career in the coffee industry?
In what ways do you apply this expertise in your role as a barista and trainer? With Q Processing certification, you gain a deep understanding of the coffee bean journey from harvest to processing, which can contribute to better quality control. As an SCA Barista Professional, you refine your skills in brewing and extraction ensuring a better coffee experience for customers. By sharing this expertise, it can elevate the overall quality of coffee preparation across teams.
- Training and Mentorship:
As a certified trainer, how do you approach training and mentorship in the coffee industry? What aspects of your knowledge and experience do you prioritize when guiding others?
Prioritizing an understanding of coffee origins, flavor profiles, and customer preferences. I also focus on emphasizing key aspects on brewing methods and sensory analysis. Coffee Quality Institute Certification: Being certified by the Coffee Quality Institute is a significant accomplishment. How does this certification contribute to your understanding of coffee quality, and how does it impact your daily work? Being certified by the Coffee Quality institute enhances your ability to assess factors like flavor profiles, bean quality and processing methods. It positively influences my daily work by having a guide and reference for evaluating and ensuring high-quality coffee for our customers.
Balancing Competitions and Training: Balancing competitive events, training, and work can be challenging. How do you manage your time and energy to excel both in competitions and in your role as a barista and trainer?
Prioritize tasks, create a schedule, and allocate dedicated time for each activity.
- Future Plans and Goals:
What are your future plans and goals within the coffee industry? Are there specific competitions, projects, or areas of expertise you are looking to explore in the coming years?
I plan to obtain my AST certification next year. I also intend to delve deeper into coffee quality courses.
- Advice for Aspiring Baristas:
For aspiring baristas or individuals looking to enter the coffee industry, what advice do you have based on your experiences and journey in the field?
Invest in yourself, by engaging in trainings and workshops and etc—as it yields the highest returns on your personal and professional growth.