For those who may have missed the action over the weekend, here are a few shots from the various coffee competitions which were held at this year?s Melbourne International Coffee Expo. Friday through Sunday, we found new champions across the Latte Art, Coffee in Good Spirits, Brewers Cup, Cup Tasters and Barista competitions for 2015.
I was involved in judging both the Brewers Cup and the Barista comp and I also got to watch various other events — certainly enough to note that all the competitors set a ridiculously high standard across all the competitions. At the national level, even the open rounds are now seeing competitors armed with ever more practiced performances and ever more exceptional coffees.
Setting a great example to first time competitors was Yorick (of the Five Senses-supplied Launceston café Sweet Brew). Without a state competition to compete in this year, he stepped up to duke it out on the big stage in both the Barista and Latte Art comps. In both he demonstrated his talent, application and ability to produce delicious coffee at a level which entirely belied his lack of competition experience. He was very aware that he needed to bring his A-game and he did exactly that, doing himself and Sweet Brew proud.
Sandy of Hawk and Hunter threw down against seriously stiff competition in the Brewers Cup and delivered a composed performance and tasty v60-extracted Kottowa Panama Geisha. It was nice to note that the Acaia scales became the choice of the nation?s best brewers with the accuracy and appeal of these scales featuring in most routines. Feedback from the finalist Brewers was also very complimentary about the selection of our Colombian Primaveral for the compulsory brewing round.
However, practice and reliance on honed skills wasn’t only the preserve of the brewing competitions. Harry, the head barista at Fitzroy?s De Clieu, took the title of 2015 Cup Tasters Champion. His slow, steady and deliberate approach to winning was the product of many, many cuppings — plus he even ate a particularly neutral diet over the last weeks to prepare his palate. It paid off!
Competitors now know that to compete in the Australian finals, you really need to be competing at the same level as world champions! This was in full effect in the Barista Champ Finals where this year?s standards were elevated to a whole new level. Right across the field, we judged ever more innovative performances and enjoyed really awesome espresso. The final six on Sunday left nothing in reserve and all six delivered complete routines, massive amounts of detailed professional knowledge plus, of course, some pretty exceptional coffee selections.
Eventually, the most outstanding combination of all those elements which typify a National Barista Champion was judged to be exemplified in Sasa Sestic of Ona Coffee in ACT. During his time on stage, he gave us huge amounts of detail about why his Colombia Las Nubes was outstanding, taking us from farm to cup and including elaborate details about the Washed Carbonic Maceration Process which provided such clear and balanced flavours in the cup. Having poured so much energy in to the competitions for many years, he is certainly a worthy representative of the specialty coffee industry and has every opportunity to win the first World Barista title for Australia in Seattle this April.