Coffee Orange:. In Conversation with UKBC Champ, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood

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the great coffee spectacular

I’ve watched him, Colonna Smalls-Dashwood – the current UKBC champion – for three years. But, I’ve watched him not just compete, but be a barista, a teacher, a communicator, a consummate lover of coffee, water and culture. It’s an honor to be in conversation with him about coffee and music and its place as a pair within the context of coffee culture.

smdlr: What role does the sound of music play in your being a barista?

Maxwell Colonna Dashwood: I work with coffee in different ways, and music impacts uniquely along the way. Music weaves in and out of my daily interactions with coffee and the people I’m serving, it can match and potentially enhance the way I personally experience a coffees flavour. It gets me in the zone back stage before competition and holds my hand whilst I’m on stage, whilst simultaneously helping the audience engage with my routine in a way I’ve designed.

smdlr: For a person who’s never been to Bath, and by extension Colonna & Smalls, is there a way to let them know what they could expect to find musically when entering your space?

MCD: An eclectic mix to be sure, from classical to 80’s pop, folk and indie hits. We our conscious of the atmosphere in the shop, how busy we are, the mood, etc. We try and change the music to fit that moment using a Sonos set up and staff iPhones.

smdlr: I like to call coffee and music, an ultimate power couple. What do you think of its relationship to coffee culture and why is it so important to the coffee shop experience?

MCD: Coffee is an amazing culinary item in that it has amazing potential on its own but it can so easily become part of a more complete cultural experience space and light can do so much but music is possibly the most powerful match and is a potent sensory influencer. It can set the scene for your coffee moment, whatever that may be.

smdlr: You just won the UKBC, congratulations! What went into curating your playlist and why? And, what does a curated playlist do for you as a competing barista.

MCD: I am thinking about the movement of fifteen minutes, this can be tricky as most songs have a three to four minute arc. I’m trying to link songs together that create a 15 minute arc and reflect the spirit of my routine. Hopefully they can help me along with my words and aesthetics, engage the crowd, judges in a special fifteen minutes of coffee driven spectacular.

In honor of National Record Store Day, Dashwood gave an eight-song playlist to groove to. If coffee is spectacular, then this is surely part of its fireworks. And, now for your audio pleasure, hear the mixtape here.

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