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World Barista Champion 2014 Hidenori Izaki (left) and Allegro Beverage Corp. President Leo de Leon during the recent Latte Art Throwdown at the Coffee Project in Pasay City.
World Barista Champion 2014 Hidenori Izaki (left) and Allegro Beverage Corp. President Leo de Leon during the recent Latte Art Throwdown at the Coffee Project in Pasay City.

World Barista Champion Hidenori Izaki visits Manila

World Barista Champion 2014 Hidenori Izaki recently visited the Philippines to serve as judge on the Latte Art Throwdown, held at the Coffee Project on Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City, where baristas from all over the country showed their creativity and passion for coffee. 

The event, hosted by television personality and foodie Xandra Rocha, was sponsored by Allegro Beverage, Victoria Arduino espresso machines, Jolly Cow Fresh Milk, Lotus Biscoff, and the Coffee Project.

After the Latte Art Throwdown, Hidenori, the first ever Asian to win the premiere global barista competition, shared his experiences and journey as a barista.

“I kept competing, as I am completely obsessed with (barista) competitions and (was) attracted to how beautiful the coffee community is,” he said.

After winning the competition, Hidenori founded the Samurai Coffee Experience, a global coffee consulting company. He travels more than 200 days a year all over the world to educate people about coffee, coffee-roasting, and product development; conduct consultancy sessions; and offer professional barista trainings. On top of these, he also serves as a technical consultant for an espresso machinery company.

Hidenori started his coffee journey and honed his skills with Maruyama Coffee, a café chain and roasting company known worldwide for buying top auction lots of coffee, especially Cup of Excellence premium varieties. Maruyama is one of the leading coffee companies in the world, having won the Japanese Barista Championship for five straight years.

Before joining barista competitions, Hidenori had his fair share of ups and downs. He was in and out of school. He also studied in England, where he finally realized that he would need a formal education to thrive. During his time abroad, he was able to learn English while interacting with people from different backgrounds. All his experiences in Japan and abroad made him a culturally aware, strong-willed and passionate barista with an immeasurable thirst for coffee knowledge.

These also made him confident to compete on the center stage of the barista world, which requires not only coffee mastery, but also great communication and rapport with the judges and the audience.

“I was sure that I could communicate with people from different backgrounds, and (it) helped me so much to get a more diverse point of view for who I am,” Hidenori said while recounting how and why he decided to join the competition.

Two years after joining the said competition, he won the coveted World Barista Champion title in 2014 in Rimini, Italy.

“Hidenori opened the doors for many aspiring Asian baristas who compete in global competitions, and that includes our very own Silvester Samonte, who will compete later this year in (South) Korea,” Allegro Beverage Corp. President Leo de Leon said.

Allegro is the preferred end-to-end coffee solutions provider in restaurants, hotel chains, and third-wave coffee shops in the country. It is the exclusive distributor of world-class espresso machines, like the Victoria Arduino, which is used during the World Barista Championships.

In partnership with Nuova Simonelli, the leading manufacturer of espresso machines used in the competition, Fly Ace Corp.—the exclusive distributor of Lotus Biscoff biscuits—Jolly Cow Fresh Milk, and coffee-shop chain Coffee Project, Allegro put together this event to showcase the barista skills and passion of a true champion, facilitate and exchange of ideas, and educate the public about serving specialty coffee.

After all, de Leon said, “coffee is the nectar of the gods, the lifeblood of offices, and a tonic drink for productivity.”

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