Meet the 2020 #ASCATop12 – Devin Loong

When did you begin competing in ASCA championships?
The 2012 Victoria regional barista competition was my first competition. I didn’t know any better and took only 3 weeks to prepare.

What inspired you to take part?
I wanted to improve myself as a barista and a friend encouraged me to take part with him.

What were some of the challenges you faced in the beginning?
Not fully understanding the extent and commitment of the competition. I also didn’t realise how my body would react when on the spotlight. Sweats and shakes don’t appear during practice.

How were these overcome?
No short cuts, just from getting up after falling down and learning from experience. Having people around you that encourage you helps a lot as well.

What is it about your main field of competition (Brewers) that made you choose it over the others?
Just ’cause my wife said I should do it because I brew very good coffee.

What have you learnt about coffee through competing?
That as a barista, we still have control of how to express the coffee and it’s about truly understanding the good and the bad of the coffee.

How has it impacted your career?
It has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, but most of all, has improved the way I express flavours from the coffee I choose.

What is your best memory from competing in coffee championships?
Having my wife and kids come support me and tell me I’m the greatest. Win or lose, I’ve already won in their eyes which to me is more important.

What are some of the easy mistakes you’ve made early in your competition journey?
Procrastinating parts of the competition that I didn’t like to do, like the speech, rather than focusing on my weakness as early as possible so I can focus on the parts that I truly enjoy like creating and sharing flavour. 

What advice would you give others thinking about competing?
Don’t ever be pressured to compete. It’s not for everyone and that’s ok. The most important thing is to be self aware and only compete for yourself and no one else. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to, competing might just push you to achieve it slightly faster.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
Competing is a long game. It normally takes a few years to even get to the finals in your country. So be patient and know when you compete, the better you become and the closer you will get to understanding yourself.