The day began as all good days seem to: with a cup of coffee. Allpress Roastery was the venue for a great day of coffee exhibiting performances. There were many people who came out to enjoy the event, including our new Canadian friends, and the energy was tangible.
There was competition not only in the coffee but also in standing room and prime photo positioning.
With their well-rehearsed sets, 7 competitors: 2 representing Christchurch, 3 from Wellington, and 2 from Auckland went head to head, battling it out with their finest espressos, cappuccinos, and signature drinks. This time, there was only minimal spillage, no ruin of signature drinks, no sweat droplets falling off competitor’s faces into judge’s drinks, and no overtime (though a few were very close). The professionalism and level of knowledge and passion was indeed on display.
Brendon was the official timekeeper and runner of station 1, and was caught multiple times stealing sips from the drinks he took off the judges table.
David Huang of Espresso Workshop here in Auckland kicked off the competition with a solid performance and a signature drink that was slightly modified from last competition.
Laurel and Mel enjoyed the vintage turquoise cup and dish set of the second competitor, Matt Troughton.
Kayoko gave another fantastic performance, her many hours of preparation and meticulous practice showing in her high technical scores. I (Brendon) found her espresso to be probably my favorite of the day.
Nick Clark wore a great hat and gave an entertaining performance, definitely scoring points with the audience for his personality and flair.
Luciano Marcolino, a two-time champion previously, gave an intense performance, pulling some interesting moves that included getting the judges out of their seats and coming over to him at the other side of the table. He also wore magic white gloves during his set up time, which we were intrigued by. He used a single origin Ethiopian coffee that was big blueberry flavor. His signature drink was fantastic, great smooth syrupy texture and bursting berry flavor.
Erin Luke gave an excellent performance that really let her unique personal style shine through. Mel was fan of her super cute outfit and pastel cup set, and thought the colorful, fragrant bouquets of flowers were a lovely touch as well.
Hideyuki Kono gave an inspirational performance to an epic soundtrack (we have yet to determine which Disney move it was from) and presented an interesting drink that was more like a science experiment. He placed a drop of a lemon syrup into a bowl of water containing some kind of chemical that would instantly gel the outside of the lemon syrup, creating a capsule that contained the lemon fluid. The judges were asked to place the capsule in their mouth, then take a sip of his espresso beverage and break the capsule, releasing a burst of lemony flavor to taste with the espresso. Having coached Hide in his training, Carl Sara was definitely nervous watching this performance, but all worked out in the end.
With a lineup of solid performances, no one could give a guess as to who might come out on top. When the results were called, it was the seasoned veterans who took the top spots: In third place came our friend, David Huang. Second place went to Hide from Crafted Coffee in Christchurch. And a clean and intense performance by Luciano Marcolino earned 1st place from the judges. The top 3 competitors have all touched the podium at this event in previous years, and all 3 receive a trip to London for the World Barista Championships. Luciano will be the representative from NZ but all three will get to experience the great atmosphere and networking that takes place at the WBC.
We are proud of our Espresso Workshop friends for earning 3rd and 4th place spots in the country. David was needless to say a little disappointed, and having a flawless technical performance (the only deductions were from a crease in the table cloth and a finger print on the side of the machine), makes him realize that if his coffee was tasting just a bit better it would have made all the difference in moving up on the podium. Kayoko did great in her first year of competition, the many nights of practice showed in her poise under pressure and great technical score.
In conclusion it was a great day full of great people and great coffee. It was a very well-run event and kudos to Emma Markland Webster who again organized the whole day. Following the presentation of awards, Allpress hosted a great reception with excellent food and drinks for all attending. Great company and conversation about the day and all things coffee related.
As the competition continues on the world front, we wish Luciano the best of luck as he reprents NZ at the World Barista Championships happening in London in June. If anyone feels like sponsoring Brendon to go to this event, I know he would love to be there to meet up with his buddies from Transcend who will be there, as well as learn valuable things from the barista experts who will be there. Brendon is now taking donations for this purpose.