Jooyeon Joon, 2019 World Barista Champion and Urnex Ambassador
Coffee shops can be hilarious places. There are surprises, spills, silly drink names, curious customers, questionable outfits, near-disastrous moments, and an intangible spirit that makes a coffee shop an exciting place to work.
The Urnex Ambassadors have lived through all these moments and more. They are a group of Barista Champions with lifetimes full of stories from their experiences as baristas, coffee competitors and professionals in the specialty coffee industry.
We asked each of our Ambassadors to look back at their coffee careers and answer a simple question: What is the most memorable or funniest moment you have experienced at a coffee shop?
In the café I used to work at, we would clean the milk fridges every week in the morning, which were located underneath the counter. One time, we were pulling all of the milk bags out, cleaning the fridge and putting the bags back in. I didn’t realize that one bag was open and I grabbed it, only to realize that I was covered in a liter of fresh milk from head to toe in the very beginning of my shift. That was one stinky day for me.
There was once a very busy time in my coffee shop, Momos. Because of the confusion, my colleague poured water into the grinder instead of coffee. It was a serious situation, but we burst into laughter.
(From left) Emi Fukahori and Urnex Ambassadors Matt Winton and Mathieu Theis of MAME in Zurich, Switzerland
Probably Australia Day when I was in Switzerland. Imagine the middle of winter, around -4 degrees Celsius outside, and behind the bar I was wearing flip flops, board shorts, tropical t-shirt and sunglasses the whole day!
One night while on shift and making a cosmopolitan for one of my guests, I decided to do a bit of flair tricks. But in the process of preparing one of my cocktails, the shaker flew out of my hand and directly at my guest. I knew that I had messed up, and everyone at the bar was shocked and had their hands on their heads. Funny enough, my guest caught the shaker and tossed it back at me! Everyone thought it was a bar trick and it left them all cheering and clapping. They wanted me to try the same trick with them, and of course that was not going to happen.
My brother, Tim, and I used to work at the same café. Tim has always had a predilection for science and a willingness to share his knowledge. Tim worked every Sunday and decided to launch “Sagan Sundays” where he would play Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” in the cafe instead of music. I can’t remember exactly what the reception was like or how long the series lasted, but I liked it.
I once traveled to another country I had never been before, and saw that in one café, my photographs were hanging on the wall. For me it was a very pleasant surprise.
Nisan Agca, Barista Champion of Turkey and three-time Urnex Ambassador
My funniest moment was at the 2017 World Barista Championship in Seoul. My coach put 40 grams of coffee instead of 20 into my dosing cups. After competition he was smiling at me and I was using bad words to his face. :D
I have to say that the most memorable moment will always be opening day of Italala Caffé. We all were shocked, in a good way, at how many people came! The non-stopping flow of costumers – this was the challenge at that moment! That day was perfect team building.
Working in a café is mostly funny as there is always funny moments, so it’s hard to pick one. However, I remember a very memorable coffee in Seattle in 2015. We went to a café called “hummmm”, which is already very funny, and the barista served me an espresso that tasted so delicious that had a flavor of cantaloupe.
For the past years I've been running the coffee in a breakfast bar at Tomorrowland, a large camping music festival. I don't think I've ever seen so many happy faces after people drank our coffee.
Usually when I do my mini latte art challenges, mainly for the sake of laughing about our insane ideas.
For more on the Ambassadors, read the Differences in Coffee Cultures in their Countries!