When Daniel Horbat, Trainer and Consultant of Coffee Laboratory in Dublin, was announced the 2019 Cup Tasters Champion after four years of competing, he felt all his hard work and sacrifice had finally paid off.
“Each year, I felt more motivated to come back stronger than before and I knew that I will only stop until I leave with a trophy,” Daniel says. Part of his success was down to his rigorous training and diet.
“I trained for five months until my taste buds got comfortable with different coffee profiles. I didn’t want anything to take me by surprise,” Daniel says. “I knew from previous competitions I had to cut out anything that would negatively impact my palate, including salt, spices, sweets, alcohol, and smoking. They all had to go.”
Leading up to World of Coffee, Daniel dedicated every day tasting different coffees until he consistently achieved a perfect result.
On the day, Daniel says tensions were running so high he was almost unaware he had qualified for the final round.
“It was the most unexpected reaction when I qualified into the final. Out of nowhere I burst into tears. I went into the final challenge emotionally ready and liberated,” Daniel says.
“After I tasted all of the coffees and pushed all the winning cups behind the line and shouted time, I realised what just happened and I couldn’t shake the feeling of achievement.”
Cup tasting is a test of a keen palate where competitors pit their wits against each other, picking out the off coffee from three cups, moving on to the next against the clock. Daniel finished with a seven out of eight with the fastest time of two minutes and 33 seconds.
“When I realised I won I felt relieved, honestly, I was happy it was over. I reached a goal I was aiming for so many years,” Daniel says.
“I gave up everything to reach my goal. It’s somehow a confirmation that all the hard work I put in, paid off.”
Daniel says what drew him to cup tasting was the unique and challenging way to test his palate. He encourages others baristas to compete.
“I entered the Cup Tasters Championship because I was always attracted to the sensory part of the coffee business. Every time I drank coffee, I would try to figure out what flavours and aromas I could find in there,” Daniel says.
“The biggest competition is yourself. Don’t let failure be a reason to give up. Learn from the mistakes and work hard.”
This article appears in he August edition of BeanScene Magazine. Subscribe HERE.
Image: Kristaps Selga, World Coffee Events