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Nora Surani 

Head Barista, Free the Robots 

Who influenced/inspired you on your coffee journey?

There's a few people who I look up to but there's only one who always comes into mind when it comes to coffee, Vanessa Caceres from The Coffee Academics. I started being a barista about 9 years ago and every time there's a competition or throwdown, I always try to be there to watch and learn from all the competitors. Almost every throwdown or competition, you will see Vanessa. I always find her engaging, entertaining, very confident but yet humble. 3 years ago I joined Toby's Estate and Vanessa was the head barista (yay!) and finally I got to know her on a personal level (she's a good friend now). I got to know what she has achieved as a barista and what she has sacrificed to be where she is now. Her journey as a barista was inspiring and what she has achieved is pretty amazing for a female barista.

The award she has is like OMG! She has influenced me to always JUST GO FOR IT and I live by that now.

What has coffee taught you?

Woah where do I begin! I used to be just a typical barista who dose, tamp and extract without even looking at all other factors like temperature, grind size, pressure and roast. All I wanted was to be fast and pour.

After countless coffee appreciation classes, trainings and working at different cafés, I have learned, “Hey! It’s not just that! It's about being precise and patient. Coffee has also thought me to be a leader and be humble. It's amazing how something so humble (coffee) can be so mighty!

Can you still fall asleep after you had so many coffees?

I had many sleepless nights when I first started being a barista but after awhile coffee makes me sleepy after maybe about 8-9 espressos! Then I will get the jitters, hand shaking and eyeballs popping kind of feeling but for a while. In overall nah!!! I still sleep like a baby at night now.

In your opinion, what makes a good coffee?

Hmmm. A good barista is one but a good barista with a great attitude can really blow your mind. One has to be confident, knowledgeable and believed in their coffee and sell a GREAT EXPERIENCE and that what makes a great coffee.

How do you drink your coffee?

Used to love drinking caramel latte but after I got really serious with coffee it's Black black black. Especially pourover! It's the way to go to really enjoy the flavours of a particular beans

Best ever coffee?

Woah! I had a few great coffees but the most memorable and can't stop thinking about is a Dominican Republic pourover brewed and roasted by Hayashi at Arise coffee roasters at Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It's a tiny little cafe and 1 man show! And he brings in coffee from all over the world. Where can u get Dominican Republic coffee in Singapore! NOWHERE!

First sip was woah berries and then it's strawberry jam strawberry jam strawberry jam with dark chocolate finish. It's like having a chocolate mousse with strawberry compote!

What opportunities has coffee given you?

Travelling and making friends! You really need to go out there and see the world and understand different cultures to understand coffee. Make friends and have a friendly debate.

It will also encourage you to drive forward and be better!

Describe the perfect setting to enjoy coffee.

Me in shorts, flip flops, white t-shirt and really cool shades at Kings Park, Perth during SPRING.

What is the best thing that happened to you because of coffee?

A lot of great things happened because of coffee and I'm very grateful but the most memorable one is when I get to travel to Geneva with other baristas to actually make coffee! Travel and get paid to do what you love! We were slaying it like a boss!

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