From local to global levels, volunteers are at the heart of how coffee competitions function and succeed.
SUSIE KEALY shines a spotlight on some of the many volunteers who make SCA events like World of Coffee possible.
While competitors are calming nerves and performing to the best of their ability, a hard working team is behind the scenes making sure everything else goes as seamlessly as possible. Ante Bikic has been part of that important team for the last three years, returning to Berlin this June to volunteer again. In the past, Ante has assisted as a stage manager at the World Coffee Roasting Championships and has also led the stage during the Cevze/Ibrik Championships. During World of Coffee Berlin, Ante will be part of the stage management team running four intense international competitions. Originally starting his coffee journey in Croatia, Ante now resides in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, where he works as a roaster.
Before working in specialty coffee, Ante graduated from university with a degree in electrotechnology. Straight after graduation he began working at a bar, discovering his passion for coffee and the industry a few years later. “My first encounter with specialty coffee was a long time ago, I got some beans from Eliscaffe (based in Zagreb), at that point probably the only coffee shop in Croatia serving only specialty coffee. And I was set for an adventure of dialing in coffee for the first time. The pale brown, watery disaster that I thought of as espresso still dazzles me today.”
Ante has now traveled and worked across several European countries during his time in the community. He has earned experience as both a barista and roaster during his career, changing the portafilter for curves and cooling trays. “I have worked as barista and roaster in Croatia, Ireland, and Denmark. I started my journey in Croatia as a barista and then, later on, I opened a roastery called Agenda. The idea was to present local community with all diversity coffee has to offer.” After two years of roasting in Croatia, Ante moved to Ireland for some more barista and roasting work. “At the moment I am living and roasting in Copenhagen, Denmark. Along the way, I have organized a couple of competitions in Croatia and even competed on some.” From organizing competitions, Ante even took up the role of a judge during his time in Ireland, judging both Irish Barista Champions and the Irish Latte Art Championships.
Ante himself has seen a huge benefit from judging, volunteering, and traveling over the last few years and the experience that it has given him. “Simply, it has broadened my horizons and it pushes me to give my best at every moment. After my first time being the assistant stage manager, after I saw all the dedication that goes into one 15 min routine, I simply could not do things halfway anymore. It ruins you in a good way.” Taking the time to volunteer has given Ante a close view of how others have prepared and competed for both national and international stages.
“I like being on stage, I have the chance to see how much details and hard work competitors put into their routines, I find it is so inspiring.” The surrounding energy and the chance to meet people was “so addictive” right from the very start: He knew that he would always eventually end up competing or supporting those who decided to compete. Now, even after all the years in the industry, Ante finds it difficult to decide on what his favorite specialty coffee community memory. “All the events and competitions, they each have something special that I remember them by.”
On his days off, you can find Ante enjoying his new surroundings of the Danish capital. “Copenhagen offers a lot to do, but the best chance of finding me is somewhere in the sun with a cup of coffee.” For what Ante seeks to do in the future, he has taken a lot of inspiration from his time both in the judge’s seat and on the sidelines of the world stages. “I am thinking a lot about competing lately in the Coffee Roasting Championships. That is the goal towards which I will be working.”
SUSIE KEALY is a freelance communications and marketing professional based in Berlin.
The SCA was built by dedicated volunteers with a vision of an organization that promoted the values of specialty coffee and community. The contributions of SCA volunteers can be seen in the various leadership groups that support the mission of the association and in the thousands who give their time at SCA trade shows and community events every year. Please join us in thanking the many volunteers who make this year’s World of Coffee possible!