UK Barista Championship Finals

February 26th, 2006

I will probably keep updating this when people start sending in their pictures. I know Charles Prager from Cafe Europa was taking A LOT, and he has promised to send them on so it may be worth checking back. I’ll stick a permanent link to it on the right hand side.

Anyway…

What a day.

I knew I was going to be late in the day, but I still got there early in order to wind myself up and pace nervously. I have to confess that I saw barely anyone else perform all day. This was nothing personal, but I wasn’t out to beat them just to do what I wanted to do (which is realistically all you can do in these comps)

Thanks to Anette and Luca for these photos:

A selection of the judges (Troels Poulsen, Debbie Knight, Simon Robertson):

Troels had flown in the day before, and had been at the show. He’s a really nice guy, very easy to chat to. As guest judge, and WBC Champ all eyes were on him most of the day:

The same camera crew were there this year as last year. However this year they managed not to hit my in the head with a mic repeatedly whilst I was trying to foam milk….
Debbie, Marc-Pierre Dietrich and Troels:

In your head you always have a big rival and this year for me it was Se Gorman of Cafe Krem in Northern Ireland. Se is not only a lovely bloke, but a great barista. Things just didn’t go his way this year though, or I doubt my winning margin would have been quite so high….

Se prepping:

Se mid flow (Jeremy Reagen – tech judge – in the background)

The TV screen worked really well this year. Here you can see Emilie (who works for Se) pouring some drinks:

It was nice for the spectators to see some of the actual drinks. Here are Ed Buston’s espressos:

And now I suppose I ought to get onto my performance. For some reason I am going to willingly post pictures of mysefl were I look quite stupid. Ah well. Most of these were taken by Luca, who got in a bit of trouble for being so close on stage (though I barely noticed, having bigger fish to fry…)

This year, in terms of wardrobe, I went for pink. Everyone tends to wear all black so I thought a little colour might be nice. (excuses over)

Machine top prepped and ready to go:

Knowing full well how messy I am I decided to prep in a full length apron:

The tech judges (Ken Cooper and Jeremy) get stuck in…


Charles Prager shoots pics, whilst Jon Sherwood gives me my time check. I look comically pensive…

Hugh Gilmartin was comparing my set, and I have to say he was very, very complimentary to me in the introduction and throughout. Thank you Hugh!

And so we begin. I decided to wrap the napkin in a coffee-leaf napkin ring…

And the capps are away. I am watching you….

I gave the judges menus with a little more info about the coffee inside.

Watching me foam milk clearly elicits an emotion of either fear or boredom from the crowd:

Marc investigates a cappuccino. If you look carefully you can see the top of a wonky rosetta as he destroys it.

The signature drink was something a lot of people wanted to talk about. I can’t pretend I am entirely happy with how it went, but the judges responded to it as I hoped they would. I may as well tell you what is in it.

One side of the glass is a liquid mulled wine spice from the fine continent of Scandanavia. I can say it properly but can’t remember how it is spelt. Anyway, it is traditionally served with almonds so I layered it with an almond cream side. The trick is making the layer vertical instead of horizontal…

I’m not going to give it all away, so here is just the one picture:
(My shaky hand made the link wonkier than I wanted, or can do in practise. Something I need to sort before Berne!)
This one slipped a little from perfectly upright. I’ll stop making excuses now!

Thankfully being 9th out of 10 the wait wasn’t overly long so I didn’t have too much time to beat myself up (so many little things I am unhappy with!)

So here it is, the changing of the guard I suppose.

I will update and edit when I get the chance. I am still knackered, having to get up yesterday to drop Anette at the airport at 5am so she could go to Colombia to judge in the Cup of Excellence wasn’t much fun, but my first real weekend this year feels great!

Thank you to many people, notably:
Stephen Hurst and Florin Marin of Mercanta for the coffee
Steve Leighton at HasBean\ for the roasting. He’s also now in Colombia.
Chris Young at The Fat Duck for e-mail and telephone help and the supply of suspicious bags of white powder.
Steve and Chris (my bosses) for the training and endless support.
Anette (most of all) for immense patience with me in the last couple of months, knowing now that you will have to endure a couple more. That and your incredible knowledge and skills….

Many others helped, and I hope will continue to help as I head on to the WBC….

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