We all love to read a good success story and we’re so pleased that in this issue of Phuketindex.com we have a success story that is hard to beat.
27-year-old Thawatchai Moonyong (Dan) was born and raised on the outskirts of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Dan, who is a qualifi ed music teacher, has always had a great passion for great tasting coffee and started to learn the art of making this many years ago.
In 2008 Dan heard of a new brand of coffee outlet which was coming to Thailand, and due to his love of coffee and passion for making it, he knew he wanted to be part of the team of the new outlet, now popularly known in Thailand as The Coffee Club. In January 2009 Dan started working at The Coffee Club’s first Thailand outlet which is located in Turtle Village Mai Khao Beach Phuket. He joined the team as a trainee barista* and from the very start Dan loved serving the customers and gained great satisfaction knowing that a customer had an excellent coffee experience.
It was noticed from early on by The Coffee Club Thailand’s GM Michael Chick that Dan had a certain talent when it came to making coffee. Due to this, late in 2010, Michael decided that he should put forward Dan for The Coffee Club’s Barista of the Year Competition. For this event, which is held over six months, baristas battle it out to earn a spot in the finals where they are given 30 minutes in which to serve four perfect coffees and four identical signature drinks.
Competitors are judged on everything from extraction times, use of the grinder, milk texturing and presentation.
Dan eased through the 6 month battle and was rewarded with a place in the final, in which The Coffee Club’s six best baristas compete in Brisbane in a fast-paced brewing competition to pour the perfect coffee. Nine judges critique each coffee on its sensory experience and the Barista’s technical skills.
Amazingly Dan took the title in a close contest. However, not only did he win The Barista of the Year title but also won the ‘Signature Drink’ challenge. The Signature Drink Award encourages baristas to come up with a new style of drink that
could be served at The Coffee Club. In fact, the winning drink does go on the menu for everyone across The Coffee Club chain to try! Dan won with his with his original, Thai-inspired ‘Chilli Kiss’ coffee containing hints of lemongrass, lime and spice.
Dan, who as the winner collected a prize of $3,000 cash, said “I was very excited and honoured to receive the award. I will keep learning and improving my skills and setting new goals. I am so happy I had the opportunity to travel and compete in Australia with such talented Baristas.”
The inspiration for his signature drink was his homeland and its culture, particularly the herbs and spices used in everyday cooking, “I used some of our favourite ingredients, chilli and lemongrass, and blended them with espresso to create a memorable and unique drink,” he said.
His secrets to making coffee include using your hands, mind and heart, believing it is the way you make very special coffee. “I truly love making coffee for people. It’s great to see customers smiling and enjoying the experience.”
Asked what he will do now that he’s the winner, and whether he felt he was an inspiration to others Dan replied “I really enjoy working at The Coffee Club. I think it’s important to keep learning and improving myself. My dream is to one day go back to Australia and study English and do a management training program.”
Dan who is now based in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport outlet is very happy with the opportunities that working for The Coffee Club has brought. He is now the Barista Trainer for the brand in Thailand and also has opportunities to travel to new store openings to train new entrants, the most recent being to Guangzhou, China for The Coffee Club’s first store in China.
*A Barista is a coffee-making specialist who is specially trained in espresso coffee and espresso-based coffees such as Cappuccino.