Nuova Simonelli, in partnership with Allegro Beverage Corporation, the preferred coffee solutions provider here in the Philippines, will be bringing in Hidenori Izaki (or Hide), the 2014 and first ever Asian World Barista Champion, here in Manila and he’ll be here to talk about his passion, advocacy and basically everything about coffee.
Aside from being the first Asian World Barista Champion, Hide is the founder of a global coffee consulting company named Samurai Coffee Experience, in which he travels more than 200 days a year all over the world to conduct consultancy which provides education about coffee, professional barista training, roasting and product development. On top of that, he also serves as a technical consultant for an espresso machinery company.
Hidenori started his coffee journey and honed his skills with Maruyama Coffee, a cafe chain and roasting company known worldwide for buying top auction lots of coffee, especially Cup of Excellence premium varieties. Maruyama is one of the most dominant coffee companies in the world, having won the Japanese Barista Championship for 5 straight years.
We can say serendipity is all to blame for Hide’s love for coffee. Way back when he was just 16 years old, young Hide decided to drop out from school. “I quit high school because I had a strong confidence that I could do anything I wanted and I did not need to go through formal education but found the obstacles difficult,” he shared. Being a hopeless young lad that he was that time, Hide’s father offered him a job as a barista in their family-owned coffee company. At first, he was very skeptical about the idea but eventually he realized that there was really no options left since he dropped his studies and he don’t want to miss this opportunity to be a barista because this might turn him to a ladies’ man,
“The reason why I started working as barista is not only because it's my last option, but also [being a] barista sounds very cool to me and I felt I can date so many ladies.. Yeah you know teenager is always like that,” he joked.
A year after he started working as a barista, Hide began to compete in the Japan Barista Championship and quickly became an aficionado of barista competitions, “Ever since then.. I kept competing as I am completely obsessed with [barista] competitions and attracted how beautiful coffee community is,” he said.
At that very same time young Hide considered to go back to studies as he accepted that education is really an essential part of any person’s life, “I want to go back to high school and go to university as I realized education is the key to success and I've got so many things that I want to learn,” he shared. Right then, he went to a university in Tokyo and eventually flew away to England to continue his study abroad. Being a foreigner and residing in a totally different culture, Hide had a difficult time adjusting especially that he doesn’t know how to speak English. Right after he learn to communicate in the diverse place, he decided to stopped his studies again because for him, all he ever need was a communication skill, “I stopped going to university
because all I wanted to learn is to get real communication skill with people from different culture,” he said. On top of that, Hide made sure he had fun along the way and his vision of being ladies’ man will come true, “I fell in love with so many beautiful ladies.... I dated Russian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, British, and Polish girlfriends. Then party everyday..This is how I learned English,” he told.
All of these challenges made him the person that he is right now. Culturally diverse, strong-willed, and a passionate barista who’s thirst for coffee knowledge will never be quenched, “Because of this experiences I was sure that I can communicate with any people from different background and [it] helped me so much to get a more diverse point of view for who I am,” he said. With all of these things he decided to compete on the center stage of the barista world, the World Barista Championship (WBC). Then after 2 years in joining the said competition, he finally won and received the coveted 2014 World Barista Champion title. It's a first for any Asian countries and an opening to many aspiring Asian baristas.
His challenges in World Barista Championship will never end. He had also trained barista from all over the world such as Sasa Sestic, the World Barista Champion 2015, Charlotte Malaval from France, and Miki Suzuki from Japan. Who knows, come his visit here in Manila, he might get to meet the next Asian Barista Champion and the very first Filipino World Barista Champion. Impossible? Not really. Hide just did it. So why can’t we? After all, he’s asian just like us.
SAMURAI COFFEE EXPERIENCE
Founder / Coffee Ambassador / World Barista Champion 2014