London – Here we come!

Ok, so I’m a slack-ass for not posting for nearly a year, and the reason I’m posting is Scottie Callaghan has linked this blog from his blog (so there may as well be something relevant to read). And it’s not like I haven’t been up to anything. Last year, there was the Coffee Chain Challenge, Danes and the Victorian Barista Championships. This year, it’s been the Australian Barista Championships, and now planning for the WBC in London (June), and possibly a trip to Sumatra in April.

In brief……..

COFFEE CHAIN CHALLENGE
Michel’s entered a team (Mitch Faulkiner, Rachael Cartwright and me) and we came 2nd to the awesome team from Cafenatics. Our focus was on team work and speed, and we managed to whip everyone on time, but the Cafenatics cup quality and art gave them the title. Michel’s will be back this year, and we’ll give it a red hot go.

DANES
I competed in Danes for the 1st time in 2009. I was looking forward to competing with the different format from WBC, but had to swap my coffee at the last minute. I let the breakdown get to me and I didn’t make the final. (I learnt a valuable lesson about contingencies, and dealing with breakdowns.)
Jesse Hyde (from Dancing Goat cafe in Lt Lonsdale St Melbourne) took the title, and scored an impressive Orchestrale espresso machine and a trip to Italy. Jesse and I roomed in Sydney, and it was great to see him win a title and get such an awesome prize. He’s such a great competitor and great bloke, and Karma rewarded him after his brother accidentally threw away some very hard earned cash that had been set aside for a trip to Italy.

VICTORIAN BARISTA CHAMPIONSHIP
No, I didn’t compete.
I didn’t get my act together in time. I was still trying to perfect my Signature Drink at 11:30pm on the night before the Championship, so I decided it was better to withdraw than present a poor routine.
Caleb’s (5 Senses Coffee) winning performance was impressive, Kris (St Ali & Sensory Lab) scored 2nd with an interesting corn mash Sig Drink, and Talor (Brother Baba Budan & 7 Seeds) scored 3rd with her vintage “Airline” theme and sugar cup & meringue Sig Drink.

DETPAK AUSTRALIAN BARISTA CHAMPIONSHIP
This time I was prepared.
Genovese Coffee are roasting my competition coffee, and we went with a simple blend – 60% Kenyan “Gethumbwini” + 40% El Salvador “El Retiro”. Espresso was yellow fruit and dark chocolate with juicy grapefruit acidity (the black currant didn’t come through).
Cappuccino was malted banana and milk chocolate.
My Signature Drink was a banana custard layered under espresso. I love working with texture in my Sig Drinks, and this one has it in spades.
Although we didn’t quite nail the aging, the coffee came on by the Final on Sunday. (Not bad for roasting on a 1kg electric roaster – thanks Adam Genovese & Ben Toovey.)
Competing 3 days in a row is exhausting, and although my goal was to make it through to the Final on Sunday, I was surprised to make it after going 10 seconds over time in the Semi-Final on Saturday. I tweeked my routine and, despite having to redo my 1st Cappuccino handle, I finished in 14:59 in the Final.
I watched my colleague Mitch Faulkiner win the Coffee In Good Spirits Championship, Will Priestly (Cafenatics) win the Latte Art Championship (with Kirby Berlin from the Maling Room hot on his heels in 2nd – next year Kirby, next year), Jonny Pisanelli win the Cup Tasting Championship, and Remedy Coffee win the Roasting Championship.
The top 3 in the Australian Barista Championship were announced, with John-Paul Sutton scoring 3rd. Before they announced the top 2, Ross Quail (AASCA President) announced that for the 1st time the top 2 would be going to the WBC. Scottie Callaghan was called up and then I heard my name…….
Scottie & I waited for the final announcement and the winner was…… SCOTTIE CALLAGHAN!!!!! Scottie was the Australian Barista Champion in 2007, and the World Latte Art Champion in 2006, so he’s got the experience to give the WBC a red hot go.
I’m thrilled at placing 2nd and to be going to London as part of Scottie’s support.  I know I’ll benefit from seeing the very best Baristas in the world competing close-up. (London just happens to be one of my favourite cities too – WOO HOO!)

Anyway, my flight to London is booked. I have a side trip to Lille (France), and my Slovenijan friends are coming to London too.

I got to hang out with Scottie Callaghan on his recent “Expand My Espresso Reference” trip to Melbourne. We visited Auction Rooms, 7 Seeds and Proud Mary. Tasty espressos at all (and syphon at proud Mary just for a change up). Mark Dundon and David Makin had some good tips, and will no doubt be providing advice and support in the lead up to WBC.
Scottie’s got a heavy schedule planned, leading up to the WBC. He’s competing in Singapore, and then he’s visiting Sumatra; Scaninavia; Europe and the US.

I’m possibly going to Sumatra in April as part of a tour organised by Andrew Ford, but I’m not sure if I can get away yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Did I say brief?????

That’s all for now……

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