And the winner is…

The Auckland Barista Championships were full of surprises and first experiences for many a barista and judge last weekend.  Coordianated by Emma Markland-Webster, the event ran close to flawlessly, due to her vast experience in planning and facilitating many of these events in the past.

Overall thoughts are that it was a better showing than last year- on average, competitors seemed to be more prepared, with not as many running overtime and disqualifying themselves.

This year, Brendon made the leap from timekeeper/runner to a sensory judge, and enjoyed experiencing the competition from a whole new perspective.

As taste is the most important factor in the competition, it is very difficult to tell, as an onlooker, who will come out on top.  The sensory judges, on the other hand, are in the unique and privileged position to taste every beverage the barista creates.

This year, the most popular ingredients for signature drinks were cream, brown sugar, and citrus.

The judges’ senses were both delighted and perplexed by the assortment of elixirs that were placed in front of them.

Although Carl Sera couldn’t make it in person due to the earthquake, he was there in spirit, and also on these lovely bottles of vanilla syrup.

And now… the moment you’ve all been waiting for… who was crowned top barista in Auckland this year?

To many a surprise, including the winner himself, our friend Max, the baker at Espresso Workshop, clinched the title and first place with a solid set.  He displayed very good technique and professionalism, and the judges enjoyed a tasty Brazil moreninha formosa from this first time competitor, whom Brendon works with.

The most experienced and decorated competitor, Ben Boyle (of Ben and Little b), came runner up.  Both Ben and Max will represent the Auckland region at Nationals next month in Wellington.

Joe McElhinney of Espresso Workshop also gave a solid performance, and warmed the judges’ hearts with personal touches like home-made centre pieces for the judges to take home, and the use of his very own mother’s milk jug to hold the vanilla-infused milk used in his signature drink.

Espresso Workshop was certainly well represented at the Auckland Regionals this year, both on the floor and on the judges panel.

Cheering on Max and Ben as they represent Auckland next month at Nationals!

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