Australian Latte Art Champion Shinsaku Fukayama offers top tips for aspiring baristas

With the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) regional coffee championships about to get underway, 2018 ASCA Australian Latte Art Champion Shinsaku ‘Shin’ Fukayama has offered advice for this year’s competing baristas.

“If you want to be a champion, practice every day,” Shin says. “I think consistency is the most important thing.”

At a Lonely Planet latte art masterclass held at St Ali on 11 September, Shin demonstrated basic and advanced coffee patterns using Riverina Fresh milk and spoke to audience members about the key elements to becoming a talented latte artist.

Shin recommends using a combination of water and pepper to practice pouring if milk and coffee is too expensive.

He adds that a barista’s state of mind during and leading up to the competition is just as important as skill and designs.

“Your mentality plays such a huge part,” Shin says. “I try to meditate every morning and a bit before I go to bed.

When I teach, many students ask me ‘how did you overcome your nerves on stage?’ I tell them ‘you have to believe in yourself. That’s the most important thing. And don’t overthink it.’

Shin attributes his past career as a professional snowboarder for teaching him how to prepare mentality.

“There is always pressure,” he says. “I have companies supporting me and so many friends watching that I have to do my best.

Just before my 10 minute [routine] begins, I do a bit of meditation to clear my mind.”

For baristas who triumph in this year’s regional competitions, Shin says the next phase is learning how to cope with raised expectations.

“Once you win, people and customers expect [that level] from you every time,” he says. “But pressure is good. It is important for growth.”

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Shin won the ASCA 2018 Australian Latte Art Champion at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in March, and the 2016 Coffee Fest Latte Art Championship in the United States.

He will compete in the World Latte Art Championship in Brazil in November.