For those following the caffeinated pressure cooker of the coffee championships, it’s been a long while in between throwdowns but boy, was it worth the wait, with our very own Lena Richrath taking out an incredible third place in the recent Australian Barista Championships! After a run-on of delays due to a pesky pandemic, the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) put in a mammoth effort to host 3 days of COVID-safe, livestreamed national coffee competitions in Melbourne over 11th-13th March 2021. Having competed for the first time ever in the Western Regional Barista Champs back in 2019, Lena made her way straight into the national semi-finals where she treated judges to a delicious Gesha variety coffee from Colombian farmer, Pablo Guerrero, that embodied her important message about farming sustainability. Obviously the judges liked what they were treated to as Lena made her way through to the championship finals where, in only her third performance ever and against one of the most highly experienced fields in the world, she took out third place – the first WA competitor on the podium since 2008!
Lena’s message about sustainable farming is something close to her heart; it’s an approach that she personally takes with a thriving kitchen garden and one which attracted her to producer, Pablo Guerrero’s work. Threading this conversation about good farming practices into her performance, Lena delivered a heartfelt service, including her signature drink that combined espresso with seasonal ingredients from her own garden – a strawberry guava reduction, dehydrated pomegranate-seed tea and a pineapple sage infused sugar syrup.
When not concocting delicious beverages like this, Lena is Five Senses’ National Training Manager and can be found sharing her knowledge at our Northbridge, WA Barista Academy or helping cafes up their coffee game.
Ben Bicknell, our Strategic Projects Manager, was also amongst the competition fray, on the judges side of the table. As a World Barista Judge, Ben’s been a long-time fan of the coffee competitions.
“The Barista Championships are a really exciting global platform – they showcase the pointy end of the coffee profession; honing technique, technology and, as Lena’s performance demonstrates, can also convey important messages about the future of coffee.”
Both exceptional coffee and compelling conversations were showcased in a variety of competitions over the week.
Alongside the Australian Barista Championships, there were the closely contested competitions selecting the national representatives for the Cup Tasting Championship, Brewers Cup Championship, Latte Art Champions and Coffee in Good Spirits Championships who will go on to compete at the next World Coffee Championships. It was an epic few days of sorely missed coffee community and big thanks go to the team at ASCA, judges and volunteers who put on a great event! Congratulations to all of the competitors who stepped up onto the stage over the 3 days, especially those podium finishers below – make sure to check out all of their performances as they’re released in the coming weeks by ASCA on their website HERE.
1st – Carlos Escobar of Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters
2nd – Devin Loong of Ona Coffee
3rd – David Train of Langdon Coffee Merchants
Latte Art Championship
1st – Victor Vu of Ona Coffee Melbourne
2nd – Zhao Ting Wu of Cote Terra Coffee Roasters
3rd – Jibbi Little of Jibbijug
Cup Tasters Championship
1st – Kyoungha “Charlie” Chu of Ona Coffee Melbourne (8/8 in 2:37)
2nd – Frankie Shi (8/8 in 6:03)
3rd – Sheng-Wei Wu (7/8 in 2:53)
Coffee in Good Spirits Championship
1st – Danny Wilson of Ona Coffee
2nd – Mook Liengraksa
3rd – Corey Williams