On Sunday 28 April 2013, six baristas from across the UK competed in a thrilling UKBC Final in front of an enthusiastic audience who filled the entire UK Coffee Events performance arena at The Old Truman Brewery. The event was also broadcast live to 39 countries around the world.
With 2 performances already completed by each of the finalists in the heats and semifinal of the competition, all that stood between them and the Reg Barber “2013 UK Barista Champion” trophy was 15 minutes, in which to serve the judges 4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos and 4 espresso-based non-alcoholic signature drinks.
The first barista to compete was Joe Meagher from Flat Caps Coffee in Newcastle.
Joe looked cool and collected whilst preparing his beverages, using a distinctive Devereux tamper and taking the judges on a journey through the tastes and aromas of the espresso before delivering the signature drink in a dainty margarita glass.
Former double UK Barista Champion (2010/2011) John Gordon from Square Mile Coffee Roasters in London took the judges back to their childhoods to discover the sweet and bitter attributes of the coffee whilst providing them with a full sensory experience. John used a mixing deck and Sennheiser wireless headphones to provide the Sensory and Head Judges with classical music whilst he was making his coffee. The audience was played 3 alternative tracks chosen by John. The final sensory experience came from a smoking chamber filled with an aromatic that complemented his signature drink espresso, filling the glass the ingredients were mixed into, then drawn through the glass pipe.
The only Contract Caterer to have made it through the heats, Don Altizo from Baxter Storey, drew breaths and then wild applause from the audience when they saw his latte art – a person – on the top of his cappuccino. Don first drew a ‘toilet man’, as the Sensory Judges affectionately refer to this design, during the 2010 UK Barista Championships. Don was using a specially commissioned coffee roasted by Greg Costello from Workhouse Coffee.
2012 UK Barista Champion, Bath based Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (6th placed in the World Barista Championships) took to the stage and the noise kicked up a gear. There was a lot of support in the room. Earlier in the week another Colonna and Smalls barista Jason Gonzalez had won the UK Cup Tasters competition and Peter Grosvenor-Attridge (2012 UK Latte Art Champion) had also competed in the 2013 UKBC semifinal. Maxwell presented the judges with Blackberry’s processed two different ways, showing how taste is affected (similar to coffee processing). Maxwell also embraced the use of scales, first weighing the ground coffee then switching to smaller scales to weigh espresso volume.
Chee Wong (Taylor St Baristas) explored umami (pleasant savoury taste) flavours in espresso as his signature drink creation, using mushroom consommé. Following his confident performance Chee was crowned the Union Hand-Roasted Best Newcomer and will be travelling to a producing country with founders Steven Macatonia and Jeremy Torz. James Bailey, the 2012 winner of this award, has recently returned from Rwanda and is already planning his next trip to origin.
The final performance of the day was from the leading female barista in the UK – Estelle Bright (Caravan). Using a natural process Dumerso, Estelle’s signature drink accentuated the strawberry flavours. Imagine melting Neapolitan ice cream in a strawberry milkshake and you’ll get pretty close to the amazing smell and taste of this drink. Estelle’s espresso was judged best in the semifinal, hitting all the taste descriptors given to the judges.
After the first regional heat Andrew Tucker, Managing Director of Sanremo UK (Official Machine sponsor of the UK Barista Championships) predicted that this may be the most competitive UKBC yet. He was proved right with the Top 20 cutoff at 475 points. Speaking just prior to the finals announcement Andrew said “The entire Sanremo UK team have been so inspired by all of the 90+ competitors in the regional heats that Sanremo UK is delighted to confirm that we will be continuing to sponsor the UK Barista Championships in 2014”.
Andrew is one of our star comperes and we’d like to tip our hat in gratitude to both Andrew from Sanremo UK and to Jeremy Torz from Union Hand-Roasted for their dedication to the role throughout the 2013 competition season.
Jeremy Torz co-founder of Union Hand-Roasted was full of praise for the 9 newcomers (out of the 20 semifinalists) who had progressed through the heats and was particularly impressed that a contract caterer was represented in the final for the first time. Andrew said “We’ve reached a tipping point where well-made hand-crafted coffee is being served in more and more locations away from the high-street and 14 of the semifinalists finalists were from outside of the M25”. He went on to say “There was a noticeably higher standard this year and this is a reflection on previous competitors who are now not only competing themselves but mentoring others to help raise the standard not only in the competition but in their local markets also”.
In 2013 a record number of baristas used the K30 grinder from UK Coffee Events grinder sponsor Mahlkoenig. This kept Ed Gooding busy throughout the year transporting grinders around the country and running between the practice room and main stage at each venue, fine-tuning and cleaning grinders between each competitor.
The 2013 UK Barista Championships Results (with scores) are:
644 John Gordon
627 Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood
610.5 Estelle Bright
602.5 Joe Meagher
548 Chee Wong
524.5 Don Altizo