So over Easter I was forunate (or unfortunate depending on your point of view) enough to be asked to help out with the running of the Western Australian Barista Competition. It was held at the Western Australian Barista Academy, and co-ordinated by my good mate Ben.
I was a runner for the day, which meant i was running (or ambling…with a bit of a sashay every now and then) around after the competitors, helping them get their competition spaces set up with cups/trays/saucers/cultery, and anything else they wanted to use.
The format of the competition is pretty simple. The baristas had to make 4 espressos, 4 capucinnos, and 4 signature drinks.
The signature drink is basically an espresso based drink of the competitors own creation, and believe me when i say there are a lot of creative people out there.
Each competitor gets 15 minutes to prepare their workspace, then 15 minutes to make their drinks and serve them, then 15 minutes to clean up.
They are judged by a panel of 4 sensory judges, who are testing for flavour, body, acidity, mouthfeel of the coffee, and 2 technical judges who are watching them pull the shots, use the grinder, and doing a few shot timings etc, to see how quick its coming out.
This is (essentially) the first time a competition of this nature and composition has been run in WA. In the past other company’s have run their own flavour of competition, but none of them have been AASCA (AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association) approved. AASCA abides by all the WBC (World Barista Championship) rules and regulations, and also requires a completely independant group of judges.
So there were probably about 15 or so competitors over the course of the day. Lots of nerves, lots of good coffee, lots of amazing signature drinks, an occasional spillage, and a lot of encouragement from the crowd.
All in all it was a great day, and it panned out like so:
1st Place: Jeremy Hulsdunk, Muffin Break
2nd Place: Nolan Hirte, Lemon Espresso
3rd Place: Vanessa Moore, Core Espresso
4th Place: Tim Grey-Smith, X-Wray
Must say 1st place was very much a dark horse. If you’re not familiar with Muffin Break, they are basically a muffin shop, that sells…umm, muffins… and stuff. Pastries, sandwiches, things like that. They are not exactly known for their coffee, so for a guy who works there to win the state heats of the Australia Barista Competition is pretty friggin good. I watched Jeremy’s performance though, and must say he knows his stuff. I believe his family owns the Muffin Break store that he works in, which probably explains why his barista skills are not being put to use in a more well known cafe, but if anything it proves that you can get a decent coffee wherever you go… it all depends on the barista :)
Congrats to Nolan and Vanessa too, Nolan gave what i thought was easily the performance of the day… throwing in a few behind the back bar tender moves with a sweet Kiwi dub soundtrack (Kora i believe).
So a great day all up, met some lovely people, chatted and hob knobbed with all sorts of WA coffee & food personalities, and saw some excellent skills on display.
I’ll hopefully get some more photos off Ben to post up.