Barista Jam II

Perth Macaron Challenge I

Eep. This is tomorrow night. I’ve been tardy I know, but If you can make it along please do. The words come from Jen @ 5 Senses

What comes after # 1? Another super cheap $15 barista competition fundraiser.

Time to re-group with Barista Jam #2 and get down to business. Consider our first get together hosted by the lovely people at Elixir Coffee Specialists a who’s who / meet and greet. Now that we are all friendlies, it’s time to talk a little bit more seriously about this year’s upcoming barista competition.

We are looking for all potential competitors, hopeful judges, volunteers and sponsors to make themselves known and come join us for another beer and pizza session at Epic Espresso in West Perth this Friday the 23rd from 5pm onwards. We obviously don’t want to waste all the prize money on advertising, so it’s up to you to get the word out there to anyone you think might be interested.

We are planning some comp focused training during the evening. We’ll aim to spend time each Barista Jam breaking down a section of the scoresheet in order to offer insight and tips on getting the best results beginning with the espresso section. On the table at 5:30pm sharp (before Pizza) will be the top ten Honduras COE samples for cupping. It will be an opportunity to discuss flavours, characteristics and pesky” Nuancessssss” with the comp blend descriptor training in mind.

Lastly, we are keen to reward some budding artists! 5 bucks in the hopper, 1 cup, judged by comp rules, winner takes home a fancy new Reg Barber.

If you’re interested in providing your venue for #3 we are keen to hear from you.

See you this Friday,


Facebook event link here:

2010 W.A Barista Competition – Day 1

2010 WA Barista Competition

It’s been a huge day today as day one of the Detpak W.A Barista Championships got underway. This year W.A has 16 awesome baristas vying for the title of the states best, and a chance to be flown to the Gold Coast to represent W.A in the national finals early next year.

The first day of competition today at the Mount Hawthorn Community Hall had 11 competitors all strutting their stuff. Everyone competing admirably and doing their bit to further the appreciation of good coffee in W.A.

Tomorrow sees a further 5 competitors round out the barista competition, and the the states best latte artists will take to the stage
to see who can take away the Pura Milk Latte Art championship.

Finally, the who’s who of Perth’s coffee palates will compete in the Fairtrade Cup Tasting competition, a fast paced race to pick the odd coffee out of 8 sets of 3 cups. The winner is whoever gets the most right in the fastest time.

The event is open to the public and everyone who is into coffee at all is encouraged to come down. We have a coffee cart selling $2 coffees made by our competitors, and coffee roasting demonstrations run by local home roaster Trevor Green.

Tomorrow’s action will get underway at 9am and run through til the afternoon, so there’s plenty of time to come along and see what the best baristas in the state have to offer.

Here’s a few shots from todays action taken by Jon Wilson:

2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition

Directions to Mount Hawthorn Community Hall

2009 WA Latte Art and Coffee Cupping Competition

Tanghy limbers up WA Latte Art and Coffee Cupping Compeition

We had another great day at the Latte Art championships and the Cupping Competition last Sunday. I bravely stood up to the plate again and sacrificed my tastebuds to the cause of coffee to judge the latte art competition in the morning, because as we all (should) know, latte art is much more than just drawing hearts and flowers on top of coffee. The milk temperature and texture and the way it combines with the espresso is paramount to getting a good score. So no matter how lovely your patterns are, if your coffee tastes like microwaved nescafe, you will lose.

Fortunately the competitors on Sunday were a much classier lot than that, and after some stirling efforts from many competitors, the winner once again was Production Supervisor and latte artiste extraordinaire, Kim Godleman of 5 Senses.

Sadly I was judging the whole time of the comp, and with no minions to run around taking photos for me, I didn’t get many shots of the actual competitors during the day. The 5 Senses team did get a few shots though, that you can check out here.

Next up was the cupping competition, and true to form, I had not practiced once. Still, my steely nerves and trust in my palate was strong. I managed to get a break for lunch in between the latte art and the cupping, so I primed the tastebuds with a potato and ham calzone and a lemon lime and bitters. A lunch of taste champions no doubt. A few swirls of mineral water just to round out the bitters and we were good to go.

What is cupping you say ?
Cupping is the traditional method for breaking down the flavour profiles of brewed coffee. You roast a bunch of coffee to a certain level (generally lighter than for espresso), grind it to a specific courseness, and then let it steep in hot water (not boiling) for a set period of time. Then breaking through the crust of grinds on the top and inhaling deeply the aromas of the brew, and drawing out as much detail as you can about the nose, before slurping it as you would if you were tasting wine. Aerating the coffee across your palate and assessing the acidity, body, and length of finish etc.

The cupping competition is designed to be a high speed spectacle that mirrors this tradition. Each competitor is given 8 sets of 3 cups. 2 of the cups in each set are the same coffee, and one is different. The point then is to guess the odd one out, in as fast a time as possible.

The winner of the world cupping championships last year scored 8 out of 8 correct in less than 1 1/2 minutes. That’s 24 tastes of coffee in under 90 seconds… and 100% accuracy on what he was tasting.
Whilst I doubt I’ll ever be in that league, I’ll explain the method I use for this competition (If you can call it a method).

How I do it
Basically I taste the first cup in a set, slurp it across my palate and look for one single defining character of that coffee. Some coffees are predominantly sour, some particularly bitter, others are really earthy, or acidic, or just have some weird kind of funk to them. I then use that one characteristic to match against the other cups. If the next cup has it too, then they are likely to be the same, if the next cup doesn’t, then test the third, if the third has it, bingo. You can also try and use things like the heat profile of steam coming out of cups, and the colour of the brewed coffee if you need a little help. Though often it’s just more confusing.

So in a sense, you’re really not tasting coffee at all. You’re pulling out one flavour component that you can use to match against. Of course being a professional coffee taster, those flavour components are going to be a lot more apparent to someone who does it every day than to a weekend cupping warrior. But the concept is still the same. Of course the problem arises when the coffees all start to taste like each other, or when your mind starts to wander, and the taste you were matching against suddenly slips from your mind.

So how did I do ?
Well, not bad, but not good enough to take out the win this year. I was dead certain of the first set, which I pushed out after only one sip of each cup, and later found out I had it wrong. Which still confuses me as to how I could be so certain, but then these things happen. I managed to get 5 out of 8 sets right in a little over 4 minutes. Pipped by a stirling performance by non other than barista to the stars Ben Bicknell, who managed an outstanding 7 out of 8. A host of other competitors also came in with 5 out of 8 actually. So perhaps we’re all just talented :)

For the record, here are the results from the two days of competition:

Barista Competition Final Results

1st: Mark Chandler from 5 Senses Coffee / WA Barista Academy 546.5 points
2nd: Jespa Bood from Ristretto 454.5 points
3rd: Charles Stuart from Rocketfuel 453.0 points

Latte Art Final Results

1st: Kim Godleman from 5 Senses Coffee
2nd: Dale Fewson from Café 54
3rd: Natalie Donaldson from Epic Espresso

Cupping Competition Final Results

1st: Ben Bicknell from 5 Senses Coffee 7/8 in 3 mins 58 secs
2nd: Angela Kowalczyk from Epic Espresso 5/8 in 3 mins 32 secs
3rd: Matt O’Donohue (that’s me!) Executive Producer of Abstract Gourmet 5/8 in 4 mins 7 secs

Perth Barista Jam Wrap-up

The espresso flowed Things got blurry

How good was it ? It was awesome. So many coffee people in one room, sharing tips and tricks and blends and beers. I was massively proud to be amongst so many people from such diverse backgrounds, all getting into the spirit of things.

We had coffees sent from all over the country, including some fantastic beans from Eureka. We had Black Sheep and Blue Horse, and beans from every coffee producing continent on earth (well I think we did anyway).

There were people from cafe’s all over the city, as well as a good turn out from local roasters. Five Senses and Fiori were well represented and had brought out a stack of great single origins to try. Standouts for me were the Mao’s Blue Horse Ethiopian Harrar from Fiori, and a Sumatran from Gayo Mountain by Five Senses.

There was an impromptu cupping which gave the a bit of background to story of the coffees and the processes they’ve gone through before ending up in our cups, and then the latte art smackdown took centre stage.

The competition was fierce… almost as fierce as the sledging from the gallery. There were some great pours, some not so great pours, and some mind boggling 3 dimensional pours… in the end, the man with the skills to pull it off was none other than Jackson of Tiger, Tiger. Who took home a fine swag of booty courtesy of the nice folks at Sunbeam.

The jam was also a swan song of sorts for Jen Murray, our current barista champ here in Perth, who will be heading over to Canada for a while shortly, leaving the Perth coffee scene much less cooler than when she arrived. Much love to Jen on her travels, and well done for putting together such a sweet sweet event all on the whimsical prompting of yours truly :)

Check out the photos and see what you missed out on if you were too cool to show up :)

Barista Jam this Sunday – Don’t forget !

Perth Barista Jam 08

You’ve seen it here, you’ve seen it on Cafe Grendel. You’ve seen it in cafe’s… It’s spoken about in hushed whispers in coffee shops and espresso bars all throughout the city… all the cool kids are totally coming along (isn’t that right Mooba?) that’s right… it’s the Barista Jam !

This coming Sunday… this very weekend, the first proper barista jam will be going down at the WA Barista Academy in Northbridge. It’s a chance for everyone either in or on the fringes (peering gleefully over the shoulder) of the Perth coffee scene. You are all invited, regardless of your preference for coffee machine, roaster, grinder, tamper, fair trade, direct trade, share trade… you get the picture. Leave the ego at the door (mine fits in a custom designed warehouse), and enjoy some great coffees, food, beers, and have a crack at taking away some prizes in a winner takes all latte art smackdown !

Be there or be L7.

Barista Jam – 8th June

Smart arse barista

Perth Baristi – Come on down !

Jen Murray from the WA Barista Academy is organising a Barista Jam ! What’s a Barista Jam you ask ? I don’t really know, but there will be coffee, and beer, and music, and competitions, and prizes. It’s going to be held at WABA (135 Lake st, Northbridge) on Sunday the 8th of June, running from midday til whenever people decide to leave…

Baristas, Roasters, and anyone with a nose for good coffee are invited to come along and bring their grinder and beans, to share the love and see what kind of shots other people are pulling. There’ll also be a few impromptu competitions over the course of the afternoon (with some prizes being donated), such as a latte art smackdown, and a few other things.

The idea is that anyone and everyone with a love of quality coffee is invited (regardless of who you work for or what coffee you use) to come down and meet up with others in the scene and talk coffee (while drinking beer), without having to serve any customers :)

So if that sounds like you then book it into the calendar now ! Jen says that if you want to bring a grinder along (and you should !) then give her a call on 9328 7675 or an email at

It would be really great to get everyone there. We’ve been in touch with Barista Magazine too, and I’ll be taking some shots from the day which will hopefully make it into the next edition.

More details are they come to hand !

** Update with prizes !
Sunbeam have kindly donated the following prizes for the day:

EM6910 Machine
EM0480 Grinder
Bang Bang Knock Box

If you haven’t marked this one in your calendar… do it now. And the more grinders people can bring along the better… Get on it baristas !