W.A Barista Competition wrap up

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Well the competition is over for another year. There were highs and lows, excitement and disappointment, showmanship and shakey hands, and in the end, quality coffee was the winner.

Well coffee and Nolan Hirte, showman and barista extraordinaire from Lemon Espresso in Claremont.

Nolan’s performance was funky yet refined. Getting the crowd going the way only he can with some old school beats (I can’t even remember the last time I heard Ini Kamoze – Here comes the hot stepper, but it worked so well ) and then wowing the judges with excellent technique and most importantly the flavour in the cup.

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The rest of the event was a showcase of Perth’s best baristas. Those willing to put their time, money, and reputations on the line in order to compete for the chance to make it into the national finals of the Australian Barista Championship, and then if successful, on to the World Barista Championships, this year being held in Tokyo – Japan.

The format is a set list of requirements that each competitor must accomplish in their allotted time, as specified by AASCA (The Australasian Specialty Coffee Association), an independent body that exists to promote knowledge of and further excellence in coffee in Australia.

So each competitor has 15 minutes practice time, 15 minutes competition time, and 15 minutes clean up time. During the 15 minutes of practice they will adjust the grinder to suit their blend. Arrange ingredients and warm cups, set up the area the way they want it. During the 15 minutes of competition time, the barista must make 4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos, and 4 signature drinks of their own creation. The signature drink must be espresso based, and show all of the baristas creativity and understanding of the flavour profile of their blend, in order to combine it with other interesting components.

After serving all 3 types of drinks, the competition time is over, and the sensory judges go off to collaborate their scores and assign marks to each drink in a number of very specific areas. Technical judges are assigned to look at all aspects of the baristas routine, and to ensure they are using hygienic practices at all times during the competition.

The technical score and the sensory scores are then put together to form an overall score for each barista. The only other thing affecting scores is time. If a barista goes over time they lose points for every 15 seconds they are over, up til a maximum of 2 minutes, at which point they are disqualified.

If any of that sounds like a walk in the park… let me tell you it isn’t. These guys are the top people in their field, used to turning out hundreds of coffees a day in their respective cafes, but with the spotlight on them and the time on the clock, it’s a whole other experience entirely. Sweat beading on brows, shakey fingers trying to arrange delicate ingredients into glassware and ferry them smoothly over to the judges tables… it’s a stressful thing. Which makes me glad that all I had to do was sit around and take photos :)

So the list of place getters was:

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1st Nolan Hirte (Lemon Espresso)
2nd Jen Murray (WA Barista Academy)
3rd Jeremy Hulsdunk (Epic Espresso)

Each of the winners were extremely deserving, but in truth there were a number of other excellent competitors who would have also been deserving of a place, and whose coffee I would happy to drink any day of the week.

So congratulations to all involved, it was one of the best competitions I’ve been to, and the audio/visual setup and camera work were second to none, ensuring the everyone in the room got a great view of all the action, whether they be at the judges table, or right down the back of the room.

The event was also a great way for many different people in the Perth coffee scene to get together and talk about how to make the industry better. Representatives from such local companies as Five Senses, Fiori, European Foods, Aroma Cafe, Rubra Coffee, and many other local cafe owners and baristas joined with interstate and overseas judges and officials to promote quality coffee.

Much love to Ben Bicknell for his tireless efforts at organising the event, and to all the other judges and volunteers who pulled everything together when it counted. Congratulations to Nolan on the win, and to all the other competitors for making it such a great event. Lets hope WA has the next Australian, nay WORLD barista champion amongst it’s ranks.

W.A Barista Championships

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Just passing on a message here folks. The W.A Barista Championships are nearing, very close in fact. So here are a few of the details from the man himself, Ben Bicknell of the W.A Barista Academy, who is a representative of AASCA, and organiser of the competition.

W.A baristas, this is your chance to show your skills and get some great insight on the only competition that will give you access to compete in the Australian and World barista championships.

Get on down and get involved !

Hi,

Bringing you the latest event on the Coffee Industry Calendar of WA:
The official W.A. heats for the AASCA Australian Barista Championships!!

This is just a quick message to give you the initial information about the AASCA WA Barista Championships (WABC). If you are a coffee distributor, coffee roaster or just know of other people who may be interested in this event, feel free to forward this email on.

This year the WABC is moving to a bigger, slicker and more accessible location of the City of Perth Town Hall (crn of Barrack and Hay Street).

The event will be held over two days on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th of March. An information session consisting of a general run through, tips for the competitions and the opportunity to practice on the competition espresso machine will be held around a week before the competition (possibly Sunday 25th February). Additional practice sessions may be available throughout the week preceding the competition.

Any resident within Western Australia is eligible to enter. The winner of the WABC will secure their place in the AASCA Australian Barista Championships on April 29th, the winner of which will represent the nation at the World Barista Championships in Tokyo, Japan later in the year.

The WABC is an independent competition run by the AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association (AASCA), a national non-profit organization. See www.aasca.com for more details.

If you would like further information, would like a copy of the rules and score sheets or would like an application form, visit the AASCA website: www.aasca.com. Also, feel free to either give me a call on 0439 511 881, email me at ben@baristaacademy.com.au or alternatively email AASCA at enquiries@aasca.com.

Further information about the event and prizes will be forthcoming.

Cheers,
Ben Bicknell
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Secretary for the AASCA Australian Barista Guild
W.A. Convener for the AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association