NZSCA on how Tsubasa Nico Nozaki won the 2023 New Zealand Latte Art Championship


NZSCA’s Emma McDougall discusses how Tsubasa Nico Nozaki trained his mind and hands to perform under pressure and win the 2023 New Zealand Latte Art Championship.

Tsubasa (Nico) Nozaki, the 2023 Latte Art Champion of New Zealand, is a living testament to the idea that success is predominantly shaped by training and visualisation.

“It took me 10 years to finally become a champion. I think it is beneficial for those who [experience] a lot of losses because they can share their experiences with others,” Nico says.

That relentless practice paid off, launching Nico from seventh place in 2022 to first in 2023 at the national competition, which took place at The Sapphire Room, Auckland on 5 August.

Nico acknowledges there are individuals who achieve success in a much shorter time frame, but he emphasises that everyone’s journey is unique.

“The key to success is to do it until you can do it,” he says.

Nico’s journey to the championship provides insights into his belief in the power of training. He highlights the significance of setting concrete goals.

Nico’s practice schedule was 3am until 6am, breakfast, shift at The Hangar in Wellington, home for a nap, then training from 6pm until 9pm.

He added in manifestation by visualising himself as a winner. He had a clear vision, coupled with diligent training, supported by great coaching to help yield an exceptional result.

The aspect of relaxation and ‘Zen’ in his routine complements the idea that success is not solely reliant on natural ability.

Nico’s dedication to finding a routine that helped him stay calm under pressure reflects his belief in the importance of training the mind to perform at its best. He’s often seen at championships sitting cross legged meditating while the event rages around him.

Nico has also perfected the ‘ghost pour’ where baristas practise by miming. However, his routine was not robotic. His personality shone on stage, and in the cup.

When asked who he credits his career with, Nico smiled his broad grin:

“Jibbi Little. Without her, I wouldn’t be a barista. Her influence, guidance and mentorship with experience played a pivotal role in my success,” he says.

To those aspiring to enter the championship in the future, Nico’s message is clear: “Everyone can be a latte artist.”

He encourages individuals to embrace their creativity, practice diligently, and enjoy the journey of improvement together with fellow competitors.

Nico is looking forward to the 2023 World Latte Art Championship, taking place at the Taipei International Coffee Show from 17 to 20 November.

“This global competition brings together through so much dedicated effort,” he says.

Nico’s journey to becoming the 2023 Latte Art Champion of New Zealand highlights the significance of dedication, visualisation and mentorship in achieving success. Nico’s gratitude extends to his support network, including his coach, friends, and family.

Special thanks go to his wife, Honoka Kawashima, aka the 2023 New Zealand Barista Champion.

“She supported me in everything. Even outside of competitions, she did everything such as cooking and mental support,” he says.

This article appears in the December 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

Send this to a friend