SINGAPORE - While doing her nursing degree course in Sydney, Loke Xinyi was so taken by a mocha that she switched careers
For 2½ years, Ms Loke Xinyi, 27, tended to critically ill patients as a nurse in the intensive care unit of the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). She had gone into nursing because of her love for biology and she wanted a hands-on job.
Her plans took an unlikely turn in 2010, however, after she tasted a mocha, an espresso coffee drink with chocolate, at Campos Coffee in Sydney.
She says the delicious drink with "perfectly textured milk and perfect temperature" opened her eyes to the world of coffee. Before that, she always thought coffee was bitter and hardly drank it.
She was so taken by the mocha that she contemplated switching careers and becoming a barista instead.
However, she was still in the midst of her nursing degree course at the University of Sydney, on a scholarship from SGH.
After five years of nursing and completing a two-year scholarship bond, she decided to leave her job last year and become a full-time barista. She took a pay cut but declined to say how much.
Her mother, who is also a nurse at SGH, wanted her to stay in nursing.
Ms Loke, a senior barista and trainee roaster at Common Man Coffee Roasters, says: "Although she did not openly object, my mum still wanted me to go back to nursing. But I told her, 'No, this is what I want to do' and I went ahead with it."
The risk she took has paid off. She won the 8th Singapore National Barista Championship last week. It was part of Cafe Asia 2014, a trade and consumer event dedicated to the region's cafe and teahouse communities.