Zoé was the big winner of our latte art competition at our ExtraOATdinary evening on September 12th. We're taking you along an interview with her to find out more about her barista profession, her passions and her endearing personality.
A curious and passionate barista
What led you to become a barista at Yamabiko?
I've been a barista for 3 years. I worked in a few local cafés before moving to Sutton. I love living in this cocoon of nature where everyone knows each other so much that I don't plan to ever leave!
I joined the Yamabiko team nearly 2 years ago and it's a new experience in a 3rd wave coffee shop and roaster. I love the teamwork between roasters and baristas, where we can combine our respective expertise to get the best coffee possible. It's a privilege to work for a micro roaster, because the feedback is direct! Meticulous care is taken in selecting specialty coffees, and I've learned to develop my palate to calibrate the coffee every day and develop my latte art skills daily. I've really found what I'm looking for here, because I'm able to invest my time while developing my skills, which are also my passions.
What advice would you give to a beginner looking to get started in latte art?
Start with sweet drinks, like hot chocolate or mocha! Personally, I find it much easier to get well-defined designs. Maybe it's due to the sugar in the drink.
Also, don't get discouraged! It took me several years of practice before I considered myself good, so even if this talent isn't innate, it develops with practice.
About your participation in the So You Think You Can MOUSSE challenge
What was your strategy for winning?
First of all, I made a point of practicing on the machines available at the competition, because they're very different from the ones I'm used to working on. And I was right to do so! I'm convinced that, otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten through the first round of the competition.
Then, as plant-based drinks generally give a less precise definition than cow's milk, even if the Oatbox Oat Beverage is one of the best I've had, I decided to concentrate on fairly simple designs with solid lines like the tulip, but bringing in technical twists to demonstrate my skills.
In this way, I was able to offer designs of consistent quality and symmetry throughout the different rounds of the competition.
How did you feel when you won?
I was shocked! I never thought I would win! I laughed nervously for 24 hours because I couldn't believe it!
There were so many other talented baristas on the night that I know I was lucky too (falling on the tulip in the first round of competition, for example). I'm really proud to have won, it's one of my greatest achievements to date, it helps me to gain confidence in my talent, and to persevere to keep improving.
Fun Facts about Zoé
Cappuccino or latte? Latte (oatmilkl!!!)
Your favorite vegan comfort food? Vietnamese tofu soup
What was your dream job as a child? Architect, but I soon found out that math is not my strength.
One of your fondest childhood memories? The many ski outings with my parents
Your dream travel destination? Japan
The most beautiful place you've visited? Italy
The word or expression you say all the time? Yee Haw (it's a bit embarrassing)
One of the best pieces of advice you've ever received? The importance of intuition
You find $10 on the street, what do you do with it? I look around to see if someone has dropped it.
Who do you trust in case of a zombie attack? My father 100%.
If you could only eat one food for a month, what would it be? Kimchi
We'd like to thank Zoé for playing along, and advise you to stay tuned for future surprises! :)