Get to know Suzy McGhee of Villino Coffee

2023 Australian AeroPress Champion

Suzy McGhee of Villino Coffee has been crowned the 2023 Australian AeroPress Champion. She talks to BeanScene about her first job, supporting the Tassie coffee community and the self-confidence you need to progress on the world stage.

  • Name: Suzy McGhee
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Instagram: @suzybloo_coffee
  • Company: Villino Coffee
  • Competition: 2023 Australian AeroPress Championship

Q: What and where was your first job in the coffee industry?

A: I started working at Starbucks when I was 17. It was my first full-time job and I worked there for seven years. I actually hated coffee when I first started working there, but I was transformed once I learnt about the specialty coffee world.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in coffee?

A: I was always really intrigued by the sensory aspects of coffee and identifying the specific aromas and flavour notes.

Q: What’s your favourite part of being a barista?

A: Trying to make each coffee the absolute best. I also love converting customers from typical coffee drinkers to coffee nerds. I find it quite exciting educating people on what is available to them.

Q: What’s your go-to coffee order?

A: I absolutely have to have what you Aussies call ‘a magic’ in the morning. In the United Kingdom, we’d just call it a standard flat white. Then I’ll get a batch brew and a piccolo. I remember a time I recited that order to a barista and because of my accent, they brought out a batch brew and a side of pickles!

Q: What made you enter the AeroPress competition?

A: It was a last-minute decision. It was a big deal for us having the competition in Tasmania, because we haven’t had one in such a long time. I hadn’t really competed in a coffee competition before, and it sounded like fun. I also wanted to support the coffee community here.

Q: How did you feel after you were announced the winner of the 2023 Australian AeroPress Championship?

A: I was very surprised. It’s not that I don’t think I’m good or anything, I just didn’t expect to win. I was surrounded by so many talented baristas, which is also such a great thing about the competition, being around so many other coffee geeks. I’m so grateful for all of the support from Villino Coffee and everyone online.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway after competing in the World AeroPress Championship?

A: That I should plan to get further than I think. The same thing happened in the Tasmanian AeroPress Championship in that I assumed I wouldn’t get past the first round. I literally only brought enough water to compete once.

Q: How did you celebrate after the Worlds?

A: I called my partner straight away. He’s not crazy about coffee like I am but he’s very supportive. He watched the whole thing on YouTube. Then we went to an afterparty that AeroPress organised. It was nice to have a debriefing with the rest of the competitors and get to chat to them again before we all parted ways.

Q: Will you compete again next year?

A: Yes. I will need to defend my Australian title.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of in your coffee career?

A: Winning the Australian competition. I also have a Specialty Coffee Association Coffee Skills Diploma which I’m really proud of.

Q: What advice do you have for any baristas looking to compete in the AeroPress competition?

A: In the wise words of Nike, just do it! AeroPress is anyone’s game, and it’s a lot of fun.

This article appears in the February 2024 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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