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Barista Stories: Dominika Kowalska of Collective Bakery and Sacchi, Zurich

Meet Dominika Kowalska, a 25-year-old passionate barista from Siemianowice Śląskie in Poland. Dominika grew her coffee career and expertise in the capital of Switzerland – Zurich and under the eye of Emi Fukahori – the World Brewers Cup Champion 2018 and Team MAME, she won the Polish Barista Championship in 2023.

Dominika beautifully, with an open heart represented Poland during the World Barista Championship in Athens. Currently, Dominika started a new chapter continuing her barista craft at the Collective Bakery and Sacchi and she is already preparing for next year’s Polish Barista Championship that will take place in February. Fingers crossed!

Barista Stories are sponsored by PUQpress. Photo by World Coffee Championships.

Dominika, what is your first memory of coffee? 

My earliest memories are fuzzy, but I can still clearly remember sneaking sips of my mom’s coffee when I was a kid. In high school, my mornings were filled with the smell of strong, milky moka pot coffee. While I found it enjoyable back then, I’m glad my taste buds have grown up.

​​​​​​What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?

My coffee journey began at the age of 19. It wasn’t exactly love at first sip. I remember my first taste of specialty coffee – it was quite different from what I was used to! But my mind quickly changed. When I started working as a barista, I fell in love with the amazing flavours of specialty coffee and realized I didn’t need milk anymore.

Before becoming a barista, I worked as a lifeguard. As a student, I was looking for a job with more flexibility, and I much preferred working on the beach than in a pool. I continued working as a lifeguard during the summers on the Polish coast while working as a barista throughout the rest of the year. So, water and coffee became two of my biggest passions in life.

Tell us a bit about the places you work at. What is your role there?

It’s a time of big changes for me, and I’m very grateful for the two years of growth and learning I experienced as a barista at MAME. Thanks to them, I could start my journey with competition. Now, I start a new chapter in Collective Bakery with ROSE Coffee and Sacchi (where hopefully I will learn more about wine and cocktails). where in both places I will be a barista. Who knows, maybe one day I take part in the Coffee in Good Spirit Championship!

What is your favourite part of the day at the cafe, and why?

I think my favourite part of the day is the morning rush, wakes me up better than coffee!

How do you stay motivated and inspired to keep improving your coffee-making skills?

Exploring and Enjoying Coffee – I love trying out new ways to brew coffee, different types of coffee beans, and exciting flavour combinations. It’s always fun to step out of my comfort zone and discover new things that make me even more excited about coffee. I’m lucky to work with such amazing baristas who always teach me new things. It’s for me the best way to learn!

You have some nice achievements in championships. Can you tell us more about them?

Last year, while working at MAME, my friend suggested that I should participate in the Barista Championship. I was excited to try something new and said yes without thinking too much. I talked to my boss about it, and she was supportive.

Then, I started feeling nervous. But my friends were always there for me, and they helped me prepare my speech and boosted my confidence. By the time the championship arrived, I was ready to show my best on stage. And I won it! 

What drives you to compete?

I love the friendships and teamwork that comes with competing. It’s not about winning or losing for me; it’s about trying to do better than I did last time. I feel really good about myself when I know I tried my hardest.

Dominika during the World Barista Championship in Athens.

How did it feel to compete on the World Barista Championship stage?

Competing in the WBC was a huge experience for me. It showed me how important hard work, passion, and teamwork are. It was amazing to see how supportive the other competitors were backstage.

For me, the best part was getting ready for the competition a few months before. My friend won the Championship in Italy at the same time so we could train together every day. This made it a lot more fun. We could share recipes and help each other. We had a training schedule, and we would play ping-pong between training sessions to relax. I never felt alone.

What is in your opinion the most important thing to have in mind when you start to compete in coffee championships?

Just be Yourself!

What coffee challenges are you looking forward to? Any new projects or collaborations?

For now, I’m preparing and training for the Polish Barista Championship 2024. Wish me luck!

Quick Fire Questions for Dominika Kowalska:

Would you serve filter coffee with milk if asked for it?


Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?


Espresso or Filter coffee?

In the morning filter later espresso.

Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?


Milky or Black?


Rosetta or Tulip?


Cake or Pastry with your coffee?

Just coffee.

Favourite piece of barista equipment?