Australian Latte Art Champion Shinsaku Fukayama of St Ali is ready to share his talent with the world.
The Australian Specialty Coffee Association Australian Latte Art Champion will make his way to Brazil on 3 November to participate in the World Latte Art Championship (WLAC), taking place at International Coffee Week in Belo Horizonte from 7 to 9 November.
“When I said I wanted to be a champion five years ago I meant it,” Shinsaku says. “I’m ready. I’m so close now and extremely happy with what I’ve achieved to get to this point. I’m so happy. I dreamt big and my dream to compete on the world stage is nearly a reality.”
Shinsaku has been training non-stop for the past five years, but close to 23-hour days in the past month.
“It sounds crazy but it’s true. Training has been so tough. I’ve failed so many times. In the beginning I was always going overtime, but I’ve perfected each pattern and even have enough time in my routine to clean up,” Shinsaku says.
“Training to me also incorporates exercise and yoga, which is good for my mental health.”
Shinsaku will have 10 minutes to produce one latte art design at the art bar. He will then compete in the preliminary round and present two designs to two judges in the hope his scores are enough to make the final round.
Three people that know very well what it takes to win are current World Latte Art Championship Judges Nick Percy, Jeremy Regan and Lance Brown.
The judges undertook an intensive training session with Shin on 31 October in a final preparation effort at Veneziano’s world-class barista training facility at Veneziano Café and Roastery in Melbourne.
Shinsaku was given some “tough love” and put under strict WLAC conditions with the judges putting Shinsaku through his paces to help him fully prepare on the world stage.
“I could tell that Shin had worked hard on his preparation. He did a fantastic job in front of three hard but fair judges and should do us proud in Brazil,” Lance says.
Following the run-throughs, the WLAC judges debriefed with Shinsaku, talking about his presentation and designs.
“The one thing Sasa [Sestic, 2015 World Barista Champion] always told me is that you can lose a whole lot of points just from meeting the judges in the first five seconds,” Lance says. “Make eye contact with the judges and smile. Be thankful to them for their time and generosity. The professional performance box is the easiest 24 points to gain on the score sheet. So many people forget this, but a crisp white shirt, apron and eye contact go a long way.”
Shinsaku can’t reveal his art bar design or free pour designs prior to the competition, but he is confident his patterns embody a balance between creativity, complexity and reality.
The challenge, Lance says, will be adapting to the competition’s provided milk and espresso machine in a foreign environment.
“It’ll be a new machine and 5000 people in a room watching him who don’t speak English. I’m sure he’ll be scared, so he needs to keep things simple. If there’s any variables he can remove, he needs to,” Lance says.
Shin says currently he knows how to control his espresso yield and volume of milk, but what he doesn’t know is just how those variables will change when he gets to Brazil,” he says. “I just have to be confident in myself, rely on muscle memory and check the clock,” he says.
If he can control the elements and produces a clean preliminary round with his current patterns, Lance says Shinsaku has what it takes to make the finals.
“I don’t think Shin could be in a better position than he is. He just needs to keep his calm – and not stuff it up,” he says. “I’ve been to five Worlds. I know how it is. You don’t travel 38 hours for a holiday, all he can do is do his best, and I wish him every success.”
Shinsaku says he’ll channel the mental strength and focus of his favourite UFC mentor Conor McGregor when he gets on stage, but mostly he just wants to entertain the judges, present his coffees with a smile, and represent Australia the best he can:
“It’s time to win.”