Coffee HQ Wins The 2007 Coffee Chain Challenge.

I’ve just returned from Adelaide and a successful campaign with our Coffee HQ team. Erin, Sarah, Sean and I have been training for the last couple of weeks in preparation for the Coffee Chain Challenge.The Format.The format for the competition is similar to the Trans Tasman Cup (CCC doesn’t use Swiss Water Decaf in the “Designer” beverage), so we had to produce 30 beverages in under 15 minutes. The beverages are: 10 4oz lattes, 10 8oz lattes & 10 “Designer” lattes. All beverages must be full to the brim, served at >60C, and the “Designer” lattes must contain (but not limited to) a Davinci syrup. Points are awarded for taste, art and speed. Points are deducted for beverages served at <60C, under filled and for exceeding the 15 minutes performance time.The Competition.Six teams of 3 Baristas competed, 2 teams at a time, against the clock. We all competed twice, and the 2 teams with the highest combined score fought it out in the Final.The qualifying rounds were intense, with each team pushing the limits of speed without over compromising cup and art quality. It takes a fair amount of coordination to manage shot and milk output, and then have art poured efficiently under pressure. With big points penalties for drinks being served under 60C, it was tough maintaining decent texture whilst guaranteeing the milk would get from split, to bench, to paper cup, to serving table, to judges table and the the thermometer above 60C.Each team member took one or several roles. In our team, I pulled shots and then included milk texturing finishing with 2 freepours. Erin was our primary pourer, pulling some excellent single & double rosettas, hearts and some great etches. Sarah set up the the cups and “Designer” ingredients, textured and poured milk and did some great etching. Communication was key, with updates from the shot puller on the number & type of beverages ready and about to come, and “Requests” (read – “I want better texture”) from the pourer/s. Sean was our reserve, and he provided great feedback and encouragement from the side.Our team debriefed after each round to examine and improve our performance. As with any competition, it pays to understand the rules and know how to perform at your best within the rules.Last year’s CCC winners, Michel’s Patisserie, qualified with Coffee HQ for the final, and after an intense day’s competition, Coffee HQ took the cup.Thanks!This event was possible thanks to the support of the following:Cafe Biz (Cafe Culture magazine)Davinci Gourmet SyrupsCafetto (Espresso equipment cleaning products)Detpak (Paper cups)ECA (ECM Espresso machines for the comp.)Sunbeam (Prizes for the winning baristas)Pura (Milk supplier)It’s great that these companies support these events and provide an opportunity for Baristas to develop and showcase their skills.I’ll write some more on the event in the next few days, but now I’ve got to sleep!

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