Having competed for the first time in 2016, Erika Vonie returned to New York Coffee Masters with one heck of a bang, stealing the winner trophy from the grasp of another 15 contenders. She’s had just over a week now to digest the news and let all the fuss die-down — but not for long. This is just the beginning for this ambitious and determined barista. We sat down with her to find out more…
How does it feel to have been crowned Coffee Master New York 2017?
Nigh unbelievable! I’ve been throwing my weight in coffee competitions since 2013 so to finally win one feels amazing.
Did you think you stood a chance of winning?
I didn’t enter Coffee Masters with the confidence of knowing I would win, but when I placed fourth after the first round, I knew I had a fighting chance.
Why did you enter the competition?
I love competing, coffee, meeting baristas and showing off. It’s also an excellent chance to calibrate my skills with other coffee professionals I wouldn’t have the chance to otherwise.
What was the most challenging aspect of the competition, for you?
Going in, I thought it would be latte art, but apparently I’m rubbish at re-ordering the cupping discipline. Gotta go through it to really know I guess.
If you could re-do those three days, what – if anything – would you do differently?
I would’ve taken more time to meet every single competitor. I ran out of time to do that (in a good way, I was busy competing!) and there are too many fascinating people that I let slip away without a “hello”!
Tell us about your Signature Drink – what inspired you?
I’d seen a French 75 made with cotton candy before, and I loved the idea of adding sugar to a drink that way. I like to keep my coffee simple, so essentially I just made an iced Kenyan Coffee with passionfruit sugar added, but it was fun and interactive.
I named it The Tickler because of its bright acidity, and after the ride at Coney Island. There was something summery about my drink that reminded me of the summer in Brooklyn on the boardwalk, so it just made sense!
If you could make your Signature Drink for anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
This question is so hard because there are so many people!! I guess I’d most like to make a coffee for Roger Deakins, Master of Cinematography. I’m absolutely enaomored with everything he’s ever made, and would lose my mind being able to chat about color and light, while enjoying something delicious I made exclusively for him.
Will you be applying to compete in Coffee Masters London 2018?
Only time will tell…
What’s next for Erika Vonie?
I find myself in a wild time of transition and growth. I just started at Crop to Cup Importers, so working with Roasters and sourcing delicious green coffee is definitely on the horizon. My team is amazingly supportive, so I’ll probably keep entering into competitions under the Crop to Cup banner.
I’m also finally biting the bullet and learning how to roast my own coffee. Keep your eyes peeled for a micro-micro roaster coming out of New York in a couple months!
Applications to compete in the next edition of Coffee Masters at The New York Coffee Festival, October 12-14 2018 are now open! Click here to find out more or to apply.