Alexandru works as a specialty coffee consultant and trainer in Romania. With a few partners he plans to open up a coffee shop and roastery. Therefore, he has purchased a W6A Coffee Roaster.
Alexandru Niculae is well known in the coffee world as Champion of Last Year’s World Coffee Roasting Championship, organised by World Coffee Events. Last month he was present at the All-Stars Sensory Event at Hotelex in Shanghai as well. In this story he opens up about his accomplishments so far and about his experience with Giesen.
The journey of a champion
“It was my dream to become world champion” Alexandru states. “I first competed in the National Brewers Cup 2014, which I won. At the world championship that same year I was placed 16th. So I knew for sure that if I want to really be in the top 6 I would have to roast the coffee by myself. At that point I had begun to roast coffee, but, of course, it was way harder than I expected!”
“I chose to forget everything I learned about roasting beforehand.”
This realization did not stun Alexandru’s ambitions. “In Gothenburg, at the world championship of 2015 I did not make it to the top 6 again, I was 8th. But my friend Paul was placed 3rd at the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship. Same year my girlfriend, Katy, was placed 2nd at the world Cezve Ibrik championship. Both used the coffee I roasted. I was really happy, but I wanted to be better. So I made a decision, to open up my mind to what coffee roasting means, I chose to forget everything I learned about roasting beforehand. As a result I won the World Championship.”
What makes a great roaster?
“I don’t believe there is a standard in brewing or roasting coffee. Each roaster creates his or her own unique recipe based on personal taste and culture. However, I recommend to always use a logging software, so you can actually track the process. It helps a lot and opens many more options to profile a coffee. You can see how the airflow, burner settings and drum speed affect the rate of rise, which is the most important aspect in coffee roasting, in my opinion. It’s just amazing. It the end it’s all about how the coffee ends up in the cup.”
Meeting Giesen Coffee Roasters
Alexandru explains that, since he was quiete new to the industry, he had heard very little of Giesen Coffee Roasters before. “I heard about Giesen a couple of years ago, but had never tried it.”
“But when I won the national championship I wanted to try a Giesen Coffee Roaster to see how it reacts. I went to a friend to see how the machine works. I roasted coffee on various machines, but the Giesen W6A Coffee Roaster was the best.”
Convinced of the W6A, Alexandru has purchased it, with some additional features, “like the new infrared bean probe. I am also working with ColorTrack and will plan on installing the real time system.” Not only did Alexandru commit to our brand by buying our product, but also through a very unique artwork…
‘I was at a workshop in Taiwan and my friends who organised the workshop, did a poster and there was written WORLD CHAMPION in traditional chinese -世界冠軍 . I was really impressed by the characters. Then in Romania, I said why not do a tattoo. It was one of the best experiences that happened to me, so why not have it on my arm forever, so I can remeber every day about that moment when I won the world championship. A good friend of mine who tattooed everything on me, Teo, did this amazing tattoo half skull, half of a coffee roaster and the chinese lettering.’
Will you compete again this year?
I will not compete, as I did not have the time to prepare, but instead I trained a friend for the national brewers cup, which he won. So I will roast his coffee in order to bring the best out of that coffee, but that is not just enough, I also developed a brew technique in order to bring out a balanced and really sweet cup. I am focusing on temperature stability during roasting, and color profile in order to get the final flavor profile. It will be interesting, can’t wait to see him perform on stage. Most important is not to forget to have fun!