We find out more about NY Coffee Master 2016 Yuko Inoue, how she got into coffee, her well-deserved win and her competition tips…


How did you get into coffee?

I have been in coffee for 6 years now, my love started making sandwiches in a café in Canada, and I would have an espresso every day. Then when I went back to Japan, I missed good coffee! I took part in a latte art class and it inspired me, I started working as a barista, but I wanted to learn more and work in specialty coffee so I moved to England home to World Barista Champions and found Timberyard, London.


What is your favourite type of coffee?

Filter coffee – I like especially like batch brew or V60 & espresso (when it’s good).


What makes Timberyard unique?

Our customer service, all our staff are really friendly and we focus on the service. Our concept is to create a workspace that has good coffee + good food + good environment!


How do you think the competition went?

I think it went well; as a result, I won so it was good (very well) in the end! But the competition I had a lot happening, I lost my stuff for my signature drinks and a technical issue with the water pipe and then I was making shots the water stopped, so I didn’t think I would win but lots of people helped me and in the end I was really happy to have won.


What tips would you give to baristas looking to compete?

My first competition was London Coffee Masters 2015, my boss asked if I would like to enter it, so I thought why not, but then I was chosen and I was so scared and I didn’t want to take part in it, I really didn’t want to do it. But I really enjoyed it, so people who feel afraid of making mistakes or don’t know how to compete. I think just enter, the first time might be not be perfect but you will know how to improve, and do better next year. My tip would be don’t be afraid!


Did you have to practice quite a lot?

I think because I came 2nd in London, and I practiced a lot for that and didn’t win. I felt I needed to do more to win so I didn’t have a day off and practiced every day for 6 weeks.  


What do you think of the competition machine, Sanremo Opera?

I think its good machine to programme; more controllable and more efficient it gives more control to baristas. When you have baristas’ with different skill levels working and you want the coffee to be same quality and same taste, with the Opera app you can control what you want it to taste like, so it is much easier!


How would you describe the Opera in one word?



Are you going to enter the coffee masters next year?

Next year I am interested in taking part in the UKBC, and the Brewer’s Cup. I like brewing, I brew coffee at home and it would be a good opportunity to learn from the competition.


How important barista competitions to the industry, and why?

It’s very important, for example Coffee Masters, gains attention from other industries promoting better quality coffee and encouraging more people to get involved in the industry.


What does winning the coffee masters mean to you?

Winning means a lot, everything (laughs). Ah no, but I’ve never won anything in my life, at school I never won anything so I really wanted to achieve something - just being number 1 is amazing, and it’s something I can say I did which makes me proud.


Entries for Coffee Masters 2017 – London are now open. Deadline: 31 January 2017.