At the age of 33, Suki, Hiu Yeung Ma stands as a luminary within the coffee industry absolutely charming her guests, championship judges and trainees with unlimited positive energy and coffee know-how. Hailing from the vibrant city of Hong Kong, she now calls Switzerland her second home, where her passion for the art of coffee has flourished into a remarkable career.
Suki currently rocks as the Head Barista, Roaster, and Coffee Trainer at Rose Coffee Roasters and EVEN in Zürich. She has grown her skills over five years in the industry. Her commitment is exemplified by impressive achievements: First Runner Up in the Swiss Latte Art Championship for both 2018 and 2019, First Runner Up in the Swiss Brewers Cup 2023 and finally the Swiss Brewers Cup Champion 2024. Suki will represent Switzerland next year during the World Brewers Cup Championship in Chicago.
Immersed in the dynamic coffee culture, Suki’s professional journey intertwines with Rose Coffee Roasters, under the expert guidance of Matt Winton, the esteemed World Brewers Cup 2021 Champion. At Rose, Suki collaborates with Matt in the art of roasting, sharing their love for coffee with the world through this passion-driven project.
Suki’s journey is a captivating narrative of dedication and modest hard work. Her role in the coffee industry resonates through her achievements and contributions, making her an inspirational figure for both aspiring baristas and seasoned professionals alike.
Suki, what is your first memory of coffee?
As a child, I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee since it was considered by many as an adult beverage. At 16, I made my first cappuccino during a summer job at a restaurant. That was the first coffee that I had ever had. It was tasty since I made it by myself.
My first memory of filter coffee was in my hometown. I had a life-changing cup at Amber. It was a Double Anaerobic Washed Castillo from El Paraiso, Colombia. I begged for 100g of beans, and despite being sold out, the barista gifted me the last 100g. I still cherish the Amber can as a reminder of that unforgettable moment.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?
I got into coffee through Latte Art, starting with the Swiss Latte Art Championship in 2018. Before that, I worked in hospitality, and I graduated in Hotel and Tourism Management in Switzerland.
The Swiss Latte Art Championship led to my first barista job at Grande in Zürich. A few years later I had the opportunity to work in MAME with Emi and Matt. After MAME, I moved to Bean Bank, a coffee shop serving coffee from roasters from all around the globe. And now I am working in Rose Coffee Roasters & EVEN with Matt Winton.
Tell us a bit about the places you work at. What is your role there?
I am working in Rose Coffee Roasters & EVEN in Zürich as a Head Barista / Roaster / Coffee Trainer. Rose Coffee Roasters was born in 2022 under the guidance of Matt Winton (2021 World Brewers Cup Champion), is a passion project aiming to share our love for coffee with the world. I am roasting with Matt in Rose. As EVEN’s I’m the Head Barista stationed at Roots Lobby bar in ON Labs Zürich, I oversee internal coffee training and equipment maintenance.
What is your favourite part of the day at work, and why?
I find true joy in coffee training. Sharing knowledge is beautiful, and each session is a reminder that there’s always room for growth and improvement. Besides that, I enjoy our team’s internal cupping sessions. We come together, choose our favourite coffees, and share them with the world.
How do you stay motivated and inspired to keep improving your coffee-making skills?
Surrounded by amazing baristas, and their inspiration drives my improvement. Connecting with customers, exchanging experiences, and sharing knowledge constantly motivates me to explore new things in the coffee world.
You have some amazing achievements in championships. Can you tell us more about them? What drives you to compete?
I began my coffee journey with Latte Art Championships, facing ups and downs. After a two-year break, I entered the world of brewing. My coach Matt Winton emphasizes enjoying the process over winning. Competing means a new learning journey – exploring techniques, discovering coffee, and sharing producers’ hard work. Championships challenge me mentally and skillfully in unique ways.
Suki during the Swiss Brewers Cup 2023. The year when she became the 1st Runner Up.
How did you feel when you won the championship, and what advice would you give to others who may be considering entering the Brewers Cup or other coffee competitions?
Feeling unreal and thankful, I had an amazing team behind me. The 10-minute performance was a team effort. Representing Rose Coffee Roasters was a privilege.
A championship is a lesson no one can give us; it’s a life experience pushing ourselves to another level. Competitions are challenging, fun, and addictive – just follow your heart and choose what interests you.
What is in your opinion the most important thing to have in mind when you start to compete in coffee championships?
Train hard, no regrets.
Suki right after becoming the Swiss Brewers Cup Champion 2024.
How do you approach the preparations for WBrC? Are you excited? 🙂
I’m super excited! Testing grinders, and brewers, and exploring competition coffees. Engaging in various brew bar pop-ups, the next one being in my hometown. Hong Kong is my inspiration trip. Starting in January 2024, I’ll focus on compulsory training, and start preparation for the Open service. Excited to share my competition coffee with the world!
What coffee challenges are you looking forward to except WBrC? Any new projects or collaborations?
Every step in the WBrC is a new challenge. I am looking forward to sharing coffee with everyone around the world. This is my first time in the US, super excited to explore Chicago! I am open to exciting projects and collaborations.
Quick Fire Questions for Suki:
Would you serve filter coffee with milk if asked for it?