After coming second in 2018, Urban Brew Coffee’s, Stevo Kühn, put in the extra time to win 2019’s Central Region Barista Competition at Coffee Extravaganza in Bloemfontein earlier in June.
We connected with Stevo about his coffee journey, the coffee scene in Bloemfontein and the road ahead.
Congratulations on the win Stevo. Tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you currently work and how did you get into coffee?
Thanks. I am the husband to a beautiful wife and father to a three year old daughter (the other sibling is still growing J). I am also the owner of Urban Brew Coffee. We run a coffee bar within corporate spaces and then I do a bunch of barista training. I used to teach at a primary school and during that time was intrigued by the process and flavour of coffee and so the rabbit hole was opened up. In 2016 I got the opportunity to step into coffee professionally and didn’t think twice.
What are your interests outside of coffee?
People! I am moved by relationships. I think this is why coffee is so awesome for me. Also, I love playing the bass guitar and spending time with my family.
The Central Region Coffee Competitions was such an exciting event this year, tell us more about your experience and how it felt like competing?
I feel the standard of competition this year was better than last year. That is very exciting! It’s great seeing other baristas progress into the competition scene. My set was focused on improving my score from Nationals earlier in February. I really just wanted to build on that. The theme for my set was “community” and linked this with my first specialty coffee experience and the farm, Finca El Martillo in Santa Ana, El Salvador, that is owned by the Salaverria family. Besides this I also wanted to challenge myself with a washed coffee. The last two sets I competed with naturals, so I really wanted to try something else.
What is great about coffee in the greater Bloemfontein and Free State area?
People are very hungry for more and they are becoming aware of the differences between origins. This is a small step, but something to build on for us professionals. As a trainer, I also see large chain stores investing into their coffee to really stay relevant. I find this exciting! If everyone grows, we are directly and indirectly pushing those around us to grow too.
What is your favourite coffee, and why?
Uh, tough one… Different coffees for different things. Loved the Amber, washed carbonic macerated Kenyan roasted by Father.
Is there anyone you would like to thank or recognize, or who helped you to prepare for the Central Region Coffee Competitions?
My wife, Elri, for affording me the time to push into this. I spend quite some time out of Bloemfontein and she is a HUGE support. My family for always going above and beyond for what I need during this time. My Urban Brew team – Thato & Charlene, for running sites when I train, polishing cups, checking lists and so much more. Father Coffee for their amazing support in roasting this coffee and sharing ideas over coffee and the industry. Ultimate Water for sponsoring me water filtration to ensure that I have the perfect water to train with. Morrico for equipment support. Doxa Deo BFN for their support with venues to train with. Also, SCASA and the judges who came to BFN to make this event happen. This is huge for us in Bloemfontein.
What’s next for you and where do you see yourself in five years?
Train, train, train! I’m doing my AST certification soon and really look forward to uplift people with it.
Thanks Stevo, good luck with the journey ahead.