Women in Coffee – Interview with Paulina Miczka, 2017 World AeroPress Champion

Women in Coffee – Interview with Paulina Miczka, 2017 World AeroPress Champion

The 2017 World AeroPress Chamionship set a new record, with close to sixty contestants from around the globe at Cafe Alver in Gangnam, Seoul. Click the Youtube video below to watch the event and interviews with the AeroPress event Organisers.

YouTube video

Seoul, the host city of the 2017 World Barista Championship, was absolutely buzzing with caffeine and coffee aficionados. The Seoul Cafe Show took place at the same time and the who’s who of the industry all flew in for the weekend. People like Sasa Sestic, former World barista champion, Hidenori Izaki and many others could be spotted roaming around the Show.

Attending the World Aero Press Championship was a huge highlight for me. The atmosphere before the competition started was electrifying. With my much prized media pass, I could slip onto the floor at which the competitors were prepping and psyching up. Tables were lined up with each contestant’s name and country on a signboard. What a thrill it was to see all these countries represented! Quite naturally, my eyes were scanning for South Africa! I surveyed tables galore scattered with Fritz coffee beans, grinders and water at which each contestant sat painstakingly preparing for their round. It wasn’t long before I found the South African Aero Press champion Khan Chang. We chatted briefly and then headed off to the main floor for the competition. This was a “pinch me is this actually real moment”! The hosts and the shiny chandeliers all added to the grand appeal of the competition. My absolute favourite part of this event was the non-conformity. It’s an “all are welcome” affair. All sorts of people, wearing all sorts of clothes and styles could be seen.

The coffee industry is a heavily male dominated environment…I initially set out to interview the organisers of the event and enquire about the female contestants. I was overjoyed to hear that 16 women were competing for the title. I was ecstatic when the winner was announced: a female. Hash tag # “women in coffee”.

The finals boiled down to Yusuke Narisawa representing Japan, Panda (Paulina) Miczka representing England.
England’s Panda (Paulina Miczka) won the World AeroPress Champion title. I had the honour of sharing a chat with her during the Seoul Cafe Show. Panda had already clinched the 2015 and 2017 England Aeropress championships, and I wanted to hear her story. Her coffee journey started six years ago when she finished high school and was not sure which direction to take. “Gap year” was not a popular concept in her family. Panda decided that taking a year in which to work and think would be her best option. A cafe serendipitously opened the day of her last school exam, and they offered her a job.

“I didn’t really know anything about coffee at the time. The specialty coffee industry in Poland was just starting to grow. I started out drinking large lattes with syrups. One day my boss started talking to me about the origins. After hearing his stories, I decided to experiment with various coffees, and suddenly I no longer enjoyed these lattes. I realised that the best way to enjoy coffee is to drink it black…

“I worked there for a year and a half, during which time I met my boyfriend. I always had a dream to make him interested in coffee. He had studied biology and got extremely interested in that side of coffee. We both competed in our first competition in Poland. I won it, which was a surprise for me.”

“We decided to quit our studies and take coffee seriously, and we moved to London. It was very hard at the beginning, but we knew that we wanted to work at only the best places like Kaffeine or Workshop. It was always my dream to work at Kaffeine because Peter Dore Smith (whom I have interviewed) is really well known for his expertise in the hospitality industry. My boyfriend and I have worked there for about two years. My boyfriend is such a scientist; he helps me with the recipes and puts minerals into the water. We always use the same recipe, but for some reason, I have the luck. We did everything the same, but I won. “

“I’m very interested in flavours of not only coffee, but food, too. We don’t know what’s next, but we are thinking of moving from England. We are even thinking of going to Japan”

I’m so excited to see what’s next for Panda, as well as for the Aero Press championship.

Panda (right) and I

Be sure to watch my blog interview with the organisers, as well as of the event. The link can be found at the beginning of this article or by clicking here.

Below is a list of all the contestants as well as their countries:

Jennifer Argyle Australia
Matthias Zechner Austria
Kiryl Lebedzeu Belarus
Scarlett van Nispen Belgium
Leonardo Gonçalves Brazil
Joshua Davison Canada
Enqi Pan China
Alejandro Murcia Colombia
Radek Skopal Czech Republic
Mikkel Selmer Denmark
Alejo Kolinski Ecuador
Paulina Miczka England
Laura Valli Estonia
Sandra Halme Finland
Brice Robin France
Chloe Nattrass Germany
Christos Klouvatos Greece
Luisa Fernanda Rodriguez Guatemala
Ho Man Kwok Hong Kong
Zoltan Marki Hungary
Mithilesh Vazalwar India
Damaring Kalpika Wawi Indonesia
Dana Basirinejad Iran
Stephen McCabe Ireland
Udi Shtork Israel
Rossella Musarra Italy
Yusuke Narisawa Japan
Japheth Oduor Kenya
Fatema Alroumi Kuwait
Paulius Navickas Lithuania
Ka I Ku Macau
Hui Zhen Tan Malaysia
Rahma Mahmood Maldives
Josafat Rocha Mexico
Jonatan Scheeper Netherlands
Woohyung Lee New Zealand
Nick Wright Northern Ireland
Sander Knutsen Norway
Kristine Ongsiyping Phillipines
Jan Szurek Poland
Sebastian Hogea Romania
Anastasiia Savlovskaia Russia
Fahad Alsharekh Saudi Arabia
Alistair Duncan Scotland
Jerald Teng Singapore
Dusan Pavelka Slovakia
Khan Chang South Africa
Jeongsu Park South Korea
Javier Amboage Lopez Spain
Mathias Borgenvik Sweden
Fabio Kaiser Switzerland
Shih Ru Wang Taiwan
Tejit Sintawichai Thailand
Cemil Alp Turkey
Kathryn Santiago Infante UAE
Oleksiy Mets Ukraine
Zach Perkins USA
James Pipkin Wales

*Cover photo taken by: Abigail Varney*

*Photos taken by Cayly Robyn and Beomjun Kim