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World's top barista: 'I have a job I love'

CHICAGO, July 5 (UPI) -- World champion barista Michael Phillips says he developed an interest in hot coffee during the long winters he spent in college in Michigan and Minnesota.

Phillips won the 11th annual world barista championships in London late last month, the first American to earn the honors.

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"I have a job I love," Phillips told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm also going to be traveling a lot as a coffee ambassador and learning from some of the best people in the business."

Phillips told the newspaper his career path began while he was a student and led him to Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea, where he aimed to become a coffee roaster.

But he wound up working the front of the house instead, honing his skills as a purveyor of the finished product.

He convinced the London judges he had arrived with a 15-minute coffee-making effort that was set to the music of ABBA and other upbeat tunes.

"I like music that puts me in a positive frame of mind," Phillips said.

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