Meet Nina Rimpl, international coffee woman of mystery and Head Judge for World Coffee Competitions

Thursday, 9 February, 2023

This is Nina. She is awesome. And she loves her fellow judges!

We have had the privilege of getting to know Nina over the years of coffee. What an honour to have her here in South Africa to oversee out SCASA National Coffee Competitions. Besides coffee she is an avid hiker, adventurer, ocean lover, and can be found with a top quality glass of chardonnay in her downtime. She also has a degree in psychology.

As a judge for the World Coffee Events Championships, she knows what it is like on the other side of the table having competed before, and she takes her responsibility to the baristas very seriously. We asked her a few questions about her judging career.

How long have you been judging WCE competitions?

"I started judging in 2014, the same year I became Swiss Barista Champion. I did my first competitions from 2014 and from 2015- 2017 I was often 8 to 15 countries a year! I have been certified since Budapest in 2016, in  Latte Art, Barista and Coffee in Good Spirits. Since then, I have been at every WBC, judging." 

What has been one of your favourite memories about judging?

"I think it was at the beginning, when you are so excited and you are wondering if you are good enough and then it is a big honour to be part of the panel, especially the Finals panel. Also when people start to ask for your opinions, advice and comments that is very exciting, and of course my very first WBC, Seoul 2017 I was asked to Judge the semi finals, which I didn't expect.

Then this last year in Milan I was honoured to join the Finals panel and this year in Melbourne to Head Judge the WBC Finals! This was a huge honour and a lifetime goal I had wanted to achieve."

The WCE Judges for the Finals Round, led by Nina Rimpl. Photo: Specialty Coffee Association

What would you like competitors to know about the people behind the clipboards?

"We are humans! And we do this as volunteers. We try our best! It is subjective, we try to not be biased, but we are not robots! We do it with passion and we take it very seriously. For me it's all about fairness. I keep my distance from competitors, just to avoid any perceptions about being too close, but I always want to make it fair, do my best and be focused, and lead the team so they are also focused, so in the end it is about the best baristas and the best coffees on the table."

What advice would you offer coffee professionals starting out on the competitive coffee circuit?

"Have fun! You will learn a lot. And don't be too demanding! The coffee world has changed a bit and a lot of competitors have high expectations, and about placing highly in the rankings, but at the end it is a journey and we like to learn, to train, listen to others opinions and to connect with people. Be open to that, to learning and growing. You are going to connect with a lot of cool people in an amazing industry! This is the huge benefit of competing."

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