Zurich-based barista crowned world’s best coffee brewer

Zurich-based barista Emi Fukahori was recently crowned the 2018 World Brewers Cup Champion in Brazil. We caught up with her to hear her story and learn more about the Swiss city's coffee culture.

Zurich-based barista crowned world’s best coffee brewer
Emi Fukahori competes at the recent Brazil International Coffee Week. Photo: World of Coffee

Until 2014, Emi Fukahori, originally from Japan, liked coffee “in the same way everyone else does”.

But that year she visited a roastery in an event organised by the expat meet-up group Coffee Club Zurich. It was, she says, a “turning point”.

“I had no idea what it was all about but I was fascinated by the professionalism and the seriousness of the baristas,” she tells The Local.

MAME in Zurich aims to make speciality coffee accessible for everyone. Photo: Dominik Sigrist

Over the coming months, Fukahori dedicated herself to all things coffee. She continued to work in tourism – she studied hotel management in Lucerne – but gave over her evenings and weekends to her new passion.

Her intensive training included membership of a program for young coffee brewers run by a Zurich barista. He encouraged Fukahori to compete in competitions as a way to learn more, and in 2015, she was named Swiss Barista Champion.

Just three later, she has been named the world’s top barista in the filter coffee category at the recent Brazil International Coffee Week.

Along the (rapid) way to the top, Fukahori met her French partner, fellow competitive barista and Swiss Barista Champion Mathieu Theis.  “We got to know each other through coffee, although he is more geeky about it all than me” she explains.

Fukahori and Theis went on to open a café, MAME, in Zurich’s Kreis 5 district which aims to make speciality, or single origin, coffee accessible to everyone.

“It was tough at the beginning, but we have been lucky. We happened to open at the right time” she says modestly.

“The food and beverages scene has really improved in Zurich in the last two years, and we have seen more and more people interested in what we do. Before that, it was more like people went to a restaurant because they were hungry.”

Meanwhile, MAME has gone from strength to strength. A second location has opened in Seefeld and the original venue recently came second in the top ten ranking of Switzerland’s best bars and cafés by prestigious French guide Gault et Millau.

Asked for her own café recommendations in Switzerland, Fukahori gave a special mention to Zurich’s COFFEE in the Kreis 4 district “which we measure ourselves against”.

“They have a nice mixture of coffee and food and a really well-done brunch,” she says of the place run by a chef and a coffee roaster.

Fukahori also recommends Café frühling in Basel where the owners work together closely with coffee producers towards sustainable production.

Read also: This is the best hotel in Switzerland (according to Gault et Millau)


Paris’ extended café terraces can become permanent, city hall rules

The temporary extension to Paris café terraces that sprang up last year to help owners stick to social distancing rules can become permanent summer fixtures of the capital, city hall announced on Monday.

Paris' extended café terraces can become permanent, city hall rules
Many Paris cafés have expanded their outdoor areas into streets or parking spaces. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

But they will have to shut down by 10pm so that residents won’t be kept awake by boisterous crowds, a problem that has exasperated neighbourhood groups.

The city turned over thousands of parking spaces last year to beleaguered restaurant and café owners who were no longer allowed to serve indoors as the pandemic raged.

Paris city authorities ruled that the terraces could stay in place this summer, prompting many café or bar owners to invest in more permanent structures that the often ramshackle extensions that sprang up in 2020.

But they have now decided that the extended spaces can become permanent summer features of the city – under certain conditions.

Terraces will have to remain without closed walls or roofs, but plants and other greenery will be encouraged, with an annual contest for the most attractive designs.

“Roofs, tarps, reception tents, wooden pallets and advertising will be prohibited,” the deputy mayor in charge of commerce, Olivia Polski, told AFP.

The terrasses éphémères (temporary terraces) will now be known as terrasses estival (summer terraces) and can return in the summers to come when -hopefully – the pandemic will be over.

Business owners will be charged a fee by City Hall for their temporary terraces, but this year that will be waived until September 30th, Franck Delvaux, president of the hospitality industry union, told France Info.

He said: “There was a need to regulate them. If we wanted to make them permanent so that they would become summer terraces, at some point we needed regulation so that there would be equality of rules.

“From now on, they will have to be paid for. But here too, we have made a lot of progress in our negotiations in securing an exemption until September 30th, which will allow the profession to work all summer with free fees.”

Outdoor seating can also be extended on adjacent squares and sidewalks, and also in front of neighbouring businesses if they give approval.

No heating or music systems will be allowed, and Polski said the city would step up deployments of specially developed “Meduse” microphones for pinpointing the sources of noise pollution across the city.

France’s cafés, bars and restaurants reopened on May 19th after a six-month closure. Initially they were only allowed to serve outdoors, but from Wednesday indoor areas will be allowed to reopen, while the curfew is moved back to 11pm.

READ ALSO Travel, bars and curfew – what changes in France on Wednesday

Delvaux added: “Today, when you walk around Paris, the terraces are full. It’s really l’art de vivre (the art of living).

“It’s what brings tourists to Paris.”