Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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63 www.baristamagazine.com says, "but I couldn't be satisfi ed with my performance. I had a big regret [in my] fi nal round. I promised I would come back again, but it was the beginning of my long journey. I could not win the national championship [again] for fi ve years." [It must be noted here that in both 2011 and 2012, Miki was the sole woman to earn one of the six final-round spots at the WBC. She doesn't make a big deal about that, but truly, her presence on those stages made an impact on many women in coffee around the world.] In 2013, Miki again competed in the JBC, but this time, she fin- ished second. In 2014, she came in third. In 2015, she came in fourth, and she really began to doubt herself. "Every year, I thought I had to finish and give it up," she says, "but I couldn't. Many times I didn't believe [in] myself, but Kentaro, Hide, and Mie believed in me and gave me courage." Hide says, "I understand how much she struggled, as it is always diffi cult to let a successful experience go and accept where you are. Most people fall into this trap and wouldn't come back. However, what makes Miki the best is simply [that] she can let her amazing success in the past go and [focus on] improving herself." As barista competitions continued to evolve and grow, Miki did, too. "I have huge respect for [the] barista championship because it produces a lot of innovations every year. It means [it's] super tough and super fun for [the] barista. It is a great challenge for me," she says. In 2016, the challenge that Miki had accepted came to fruition: She won the JBC, setting her up to compete in the WBC once again, this time in Seoul, South Korea. "For me, the Miki who competed at Seoul isn't the Miki who competed [in] 2011 and 2012. She managed to improve herself [since then], so this is why she came back to fi nals and got the best result in her competition life," says Hide of Miki's tremendous success in Seoul, where she placed second. "Tons of respect and love for Miki!" Kentaro, too, found himself even more impressed with Miki as he watched her fi ght for and win a spot at the WBC some fi ve years after her last trip there—which is considered an eternity in barista com- petition time, since the competition changes, and the competitors get stronger and stronger, so quickly. "Being a fi nalist in the WBC twice and some years later coming back to become second place is [a] great feat I think," says Kentaro. "She wanted [to] come back to WBC earlier, but she couldn't win the JBC for several years. She listened to many people's feedback and accepted [it]. This humbleness amazes me. She did let go [of] her past success and reached a new height. I respect her very much." Kentaro adds, "I think the presentation in the final was her life's best performance. She was so elegant yet very confident, enjoying [it]. I couldn't stop crying during her performance. I think she did her best and was very happy with second place, because she herself is fully satisfied." "Miki taught me that the reason why we compete is because we love to drink the best cup of coffee in our life," Hide says. "This is a nev- er-ending story, rather than being greedy, looking for some 'fame' or 'honor' in competition. Miki's achievement couldn't be told without men- tioning her hard work, of course, but at the same time I strongly believe her mentality and personality led her to fi rst runner-up in the world, and [she] will remain a special person in our lives forever." Miki sums up her experience so far as a coffee professional with the same grace she's demonstrated so many times in competition. "By coming across coffee, my life was changed and became fruitful because it led me to some important people," she says. "Coffee has great power. Believing in yourself and believing in coffee, I hope you will deliver happiness to people."

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