I met Nguyen-Anh 3 years ago when we both worked for a third-wave café named Vietnam Coffee Republic. My first impression was her friendly, outgoing characteristics with a great sense of humor. I’m glad that after those years, she still owns the brightest smile and a graceful communication skill that makes everyone happy when talking to her. Becoming a member of Bosgaurus Coffee 2 years ago, she started to pursue a more professional career by challenging herself at Vietnam Barista Championship (VNBC). Her great efforts paid off when she was announced to be this year Champion who’s going to represent not only Bosgaurus team but also our developing coffee community on the world stage!
Her characteristics are not the only reason for this article. After her performance at VNBC, I was luckily asked to come on stage to try her drinks and it amazed me since then! The most outstanding point of all her drinks is their quality consistency. I could find the chocolate flavor with bright citric acidity (more like grapefruit) and transparently fruity sweetness in her both espresso and signature drink. With the milk-based, she applied a new technique to remove water from milk, which made the cup taste richer and sweeter leaving long sweet aftertaste.
If you find her story interesting (like me), my short interview with Nguyen-Anh is definitely worth your reading.
Nestincity (Trang): Hey Champion! Congratulations on your big success at Vietnam Barista Championship!
Nguyen-Anh: Thank you, Trang.
Nestincity (Trang): As you know, I have a personal blog about coffee and particular Vietnamese coffee scene named Nestincity. Is it possible to have a quick interview with you today for it?
Nestincity (Trang): Thank you so much. Let’s start:
- How long have you been working in coffee industry?
Officially, it’s 2 years. But actually, I started working with machines and making coffee about 1.5 years ago.
- What is your favorite drink?
It depends. If I make my own drink, it will be espresso, which is my favorite. If I have it somewhere else, I’ll order pour-over, particularly V60.
- What is your favorite kind of beans?
Until now, I like Ethiopian natural-processed beans the most because it has transparent and exploding flavors and aromas. Their flavors also depend on regions, but usually contains red fruit-like flavors.
- What are you proud of the most in your performance?
Hmm… my presentation. I did really focus on my presentation skill. Fortunately, I was gifted a strong voice that’s loud and clear enough to impress people. Although I was shivering, my voice still sounds confident.
- What are you scared of the most in the competition?
I’m shivering. I easily get nervous in special moment, butterfly in my stomach. When I’m nervous, I’m shivering all the time and sweating a lot.
- What do you want to do next?
I want to be in Top 20 of the World Barista Championship.What a big dream!
My boss keeps telling me to dream big and make small steps towards it. My first small step was to become Vietnam Barista Champion, now I’m closer to my bigger goal.
- Will you continue to compete next year?
Yes, I will. Since my biggest dream is to be the World Barista Champion, I will keep crawling a little bit every day to reach it.
- What do you think about our coffee industry? Does it have enough competitive advantages to compete with friends from all over world?
Currently, I saw many Vietnamese candidates in the global competitions and they are also high-ranking. I think us the young Vietnamese people are knowledgeable and skillful enough to compete with other countries, but we have to break down our old-fashioned prejudice.
How about Vietnamese coffee beans?
At the present time, Bosgaurus team is running a project to improve and upgrade Vietnamese coffee beans to specialty level. It’s also a “small” dream of anh Hung (the café owner). He wants the Vietnamese specialty beans to score above 90, it’s now in 80’s grade. If everybody shares the same vision, we can go further. However, many business owners still care about quantity more than quality now, even when they are working on Arabica beans.
- What did you learn/ improve yourself from this competition?
I learnt a lot from this competition. I can see that everyone in this competition, including the Workshop Café team, The Coffee House team and other cafes, are better than me. Maybe I’m a bit luckier, also younger and more energetic with competitions. But as long as we have a goal, we will have motivation to do it. For example, my goal was to compete with Han to see if I can make better coffee. But she is still better than me. Her technical skills always have the highest score among the competitors, mine is in contrast. That’s why I focus more on other things.
But I think technical skills can be improved by practicing. You have enough potentials to be a champion.
- Can you introduce a bit about your beans for VNBC?
Coming to VNBC, I used coffee from Colombia. The varietal is a Pink Bourbon, a hybrid of Red and Yellow Bourbon. The cherry turns pink when it’s ripe and has much harder beans so aroma and flavors are consistent and distinguishable. It has intense fruity aroma such as orange and lime, but the quality is such consistent that if you make a mistake, its flavors will not be influenced much! It’s due to the hardness of the beans. It’s also an advantage for a clumsy person like me.
Thanks for your sharing, Nguyen-Anh!
Please kindly click on this to watch the full interview 🙂 The video was made really fast during her working shift on the first day after championship to reserve her special feelings. However, please accept my apologies for any annoying sound (including my voice) and out-focus scene in the interview. We will improve the next time.