Agnieszka Rojewska hardly needs any introduction! Three-time Polish Barista Champion and four-time Polish Latte Art Champion she became the first female to win the World Barista Championship in 2018 in Amsterdam.
If she told that to her high-school self she probably wouldn’t believe it. Agnieszka, or Aga as everyone calls her, was introduced to coffee when she was determined to stay awake and study for her high school exams.
At first, she wasn’t a fan, until she tried a caramel macchiato in college. After a nudge from her dad and many caramel macchiatos later, she decided to get a temporary job as a barista in parallel with her studies.
Only six months later she entered her first latte art competition and the rest is history! Today, she has been working in coffee for 12 years and counting.
Regarding being a barista these days she says “I guess starting out can be pretty difficult. You have to be lucky or stubborn to find a place that wants to do everything right – providing work contracts for baristas, serving good coffee, caring about customers and training their staff.”
Aga changed jobs a few times and even tried her luck in owning a coffee shop before she finally decided to become a freelancer.
“An independent barista has more freedom when it comes to making coffee – the issue is if you are independent you kind of need to work harder to keep yourself busy. Coffee shops don’t hire baristas for one shift or for one day. So it is a bit more difficult to keep yourself busy, and you kind of stop being a barista – you become a consultant, or trainer or something else.”
And indeed that’s what she ended up doing, travelling the world, training people and giving talks about coffee. What we personally admire about her is her commitment and her passion. She always finds ways to improve herself and drive the industry forward.
Take for example her thirst for improvement. Aga figured out early that by entering competitions she can learn a lot, meet many interesting people and hone her skills in various aspects of coffee.
So far she has competed in latte art championships, barista championships, brewer’s cup, coffee in good spirits, and the cezve/ibrik championship. She actually won the Polish Coffee in Good Spirits Championship and Cezve/Ibrik Championship at the 2021 National Championships.
Regarding the 2018 World Championship win she says
“ The biggest enemy during competition is always yourself. Just do it and see how it goes. The longer you wait the lower the chances you will compete. You will probably not win your first one – I didn’t win for 4 years, Dale Harris didn’t win for 9 years – but at that stage, you will know if competing is something for you or not. So if you think about competing – DO IT, with no expectations.”
Aga has admitted many times that when she competed in 2018 she didn’t have the win in her mind. She just wanted to do better than the previous year when she ranked 34th. That’s a good example for all competitors out there, do your homework, relax and have fun and who knows maybe you will win!
After her win, she realised it was up to her to decide what she would do with all the attention she was getting. She chose to be a coffee ambassador and you realise that by all her travelling, her talks in various events and her focus on training others.
“We as baristas should be ambassadors for all coffee types. We need to know their differences and be able to also promote the “underdog” coffees. I think first and foremost baristas should educate themselves and stop being so against robusta coffee. Robusta can be good quality and have a nice flavour.”
Aga also admitted to us that she is not good at making plans. “I have learned that planning anything in my life doesn’t work for me. So I stopped planning!” However, if you are wondering what she’s up to these days, she’s working for Carimali as Head of Coffee Quality, testing their coffee machines.
You can also follow her journey to the 2018 World Barista Championship through the film Coffee Heroes, where we watch her and her mentor and former champion Sasa Sestic travel to Ethiopia in search of the perfect coffee.
We just want to say we find Aga’s energy inspiring and we can’t wait to see what she gets up to next!