Tomi Pance, twice the winner of the contest in brewing and serving coffee.
It is one of the several contests from the catering and tourist field organized in October as a part of the Catering and Tourism Assembly. Pance, employed at Perla in Nova Gorica, convinced the jury with his knowledge; he received all the points available. The participants at the contest of brewing and serving coffee had at their disposal one hour during which they had to organize their work space, brew and serve three espressos, three cappuccinos, and their own creation, and clean after themselves. They also had to answer to three coffee-related questions.
The rules of the contest were very demanding, so we asked the winner what separates good coffee from bad coffee, about the correct manner of preparing an espresso or a cappuccino, and whether the coffee we drink is Slovenia is good.
How many times did you participate at the brewing and serving coffee contest in Slovenia?
The first time I participated I won a silver award. Last year and this year I won a gold award and a gold medal; this year the judges awarded me 100%.
What makes you better than the others?
I can't tell you. You need to dedicate yourself completely to the competition – everything counts, starting from brewing to serving and even the position of the cup.
It means it is hard work?
Absolutely. I get a lot of practice, especially at work when we have a lot of guests. I do my best with every cup of coffee I prepare, try to do everything as correctly as possible. I try also at work to make everything by the rules, but in practice it is sometimes difficult to achieve that goal.
The judges evaluated the appearance, colour, thickness and crema durability, as well as the taste and tactile harmony. Which rules must be obeyed for a correctly brewed cup of coffee?
The coffee must be of warm hazelnut colour, and the crema must be durable and firm. It has to taste sweet, but also bitter, with a trace of hazelnut and almond. Some coffees taste also of chocolate, dry fruit… The temperature of an espresso must be around 90 degrees. Tactile harmony means that a balance must be achieved, which can be obtained by the correct number of seconds – how long the coffee runs from the machine, with correct weight… Every single thing counts with coffee.
Which coffee – from which part of the world – are of the best quality: Brazilian, Columbian, Arabian…?
There are some excellent coffees from Jamaica, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and many others. Each of those has potential to be made in an excellent cup of coffee. It has been proven by different charts, and tests. The brands common in our bars – e.g. Illy, Hausbrandt, are actually not good. On commercial charts they don't even place among the first 10,000. I have tasted some coffees with excellent grades, and I did taste the difference.
Are the best coffees available in Slovenia?
Yes. The best known, and in my opinion the best quality coffee is served in the Stow coffee shop in the Ljubljana City Museum. They also have their academy in Maribor and Kamnik, where I studied as well, and they serve only special types of coffee. The offer changes weekly, and the coffee is prepared in an extremely professional manner. They are dedicated to coffee 100%. And until you try it you can't appreciate the difference between different types of coffee.