Vladyslav (Vlad) Demonenko is an experienced cupper, Q-grader, two time Ukrainian Coffee in Good Spirits Champion, and placed 2nd in the 2022 World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship. Now he begins a new adventure as Head Roaster of Fjord Coffee Roasters.
Vlad, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Dnipro, a city in the south of Ukraine. I really like to travel a lot, and have a passion for both mixology and basketball. And of course, I can’t talk about myself without mentioning coffee - it’s become a really huge part of my life over the last few years!
What different areas of coffee have you worked in?
I started my coffee journey in 2015, when I watched a movie called ‘A Film About Coffee’. At the time, I was still working in a cafe that mainly served desserts. There was one barista who inspired me with the way he treated coffee in each and every cup, and for me it was very new. I started reading more about specialty coffee and it opened up a whole new world for me.
After this, I started looking for coffee shops in my city that were already specialty level. That's how I ended up in Funt Coffee, where my specialty coffee career started. It was a lot of fun to combine medical school and coffee science. At the beginning it was difficult but later as I learned more I felt more comfortable and knowledgeable.
How did you come to live in Berlin?
I decided to move to Berlin due to the war in Ukraine. At first I didn’t want to leave and I chose to assist in a medical center, helping people who had been injured during the fighting. I had previously trained at medical school so I had the skills to help people, and then my friends and I also found a way to start supplying medical personnel with coffee to help them get through the day.
However, eventually I decided that it was better to leave and be safe than to wait and see what happened. Some of my friends were already living in Berlin, so for me it was a good option. I also knew that I could continue my coffee career and continue training for competitions in Berlin.
What do you think about the Berlin coffee scene?
In my opinion, the coffee scene in Berlin is historically quite good. When I was just starting in coffee it was part of my inspiration, with roasteries such as Fjord, Bonanza, The Barn and Roestaette really inspiring me.
These days, it’s more difficult for me to compare it to the Ukrainian market - I would say now that the Berlin coffee scene has a more traditional style of specialty coffee, whereas in Ukraine it’s a bit more modern and futuristic.
You have been a part of several coffee championships - what have you competed in?
My first championship was Coffee in Good Spirits, although at first I was completely without the necessary experience but with a lot of passion. It really combined my love of mixology with my passion for coffee! Later, I participated in the national Barista Championships in Ukraine, where I placed in the finals (2016 and 2019).
At the moment I am a two-time champion of Ukraine for the Coffee in Good Spirits competition. I also won the Alternative Cup Tasting Championships in 2018, several competitions in the Barista League in Helsingborg (2018) and Seoul (2018) and 7th place in the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship in Berlin (2019).
Most recently, I placed second in the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship in Milan (2022). It was a really crazy experience as I only moved to Berlin in May, and then had two intense weeks of training before heading to the World Championships. I was really proud to represent my country during this difficult time, and I am really happy with how well I placed.
For me, Coffee In Good Spirits it’s different world in side of my soul. Competition really helps to push my skills, give me more experience and explore the possibilities of what you can do with coffee and alcohol.
What are you most excited about as the new Head Roaster of Fjord Coffee Roasters?
I will try to bring more ideas, new techniques and of course, sourcing some new and exciting coffee!
Get in touch with Vlad for events, interviews and more via email@example.com