“Every year that I have competed, I set myself the simple goal of doing better than last time and to have come away learning something.”
Competing can be an invaluable learning experience and Sarah is the perfect example of that. Sarah has competed three times in the Irish Barista Championship, each time with the purpose of improving her skills and knowledge. Her hard work has certainly paid off, as she has recently won the championship and will represent Ireland in the 2021 World Barista Championship in Athens this coming June.
Her journey into the world of coffee started with a part-time floor staff role in Belfast, about 12 years ago. During that time, she couldn’t help but fall in love with the craft of making coffee and soon enough she found herself behind the bar preparing delicious coffees for customers. Her passion for sharing knowledge led her to the next step in her coffee journey and become a trainer.
For the last four years, Sarah has been working as an Authorised Speciality Coffee Association Trainer for Bailies Coffee Roasters. This role was her next coffee dream and it had come true! In her own words:
“I have been lucky enough to travel across the world, prepare beautiful coffees and meet lots of incredible coffee folk”.
It is true that Sarah has travelled a lot, her most recent trip taking her to Ethiopia with the goal of forming direct relationships with coffee farmers.
She wants to eventually get certified for the AST sensory module and perhaps even pursue an adventure into becoming a Q-Grader (Arabica Coffee Quality Grader). Sensory is one of the most challenging modules the SCA offers but it’s also something Sarah is very passionate about and sees it as an opportunity to gain as much experience as she can. Despite all of her achievements, she never stops seeing herself as a student that can improve on her skills and knowledge.
Sarah’s passion for her craft and pursuit of life-long learning make her a wonderful example of what the SCA’s Irish Chapter has to offer. She also sends a powerful message regarding the Covid-19 pandemic:
“What I feel is important right now is for our creative, resourceful industry to adapt to new models of day to day and power on through as best we can. I know it’s not easy, but we can get through it if we work together and support local independent businesses and the hard-working farmers when and where we can”.
During this time she’s working with her colleagues on online training content, something we’re very excited to see. As someone who has competed three times in SCA championships, she wants to encourage everyone who’s thinking of becoming a first-time competitor to just go for it. Competing offers a great opportunity to challenge yourself, gain knowledge and experience, meet like-minded coffee folks and perhaps go to places you’d never thought you’d go. Sarah is always willing to help and chat coffee so don’t hesitate to give her a shout!