Last year this was probably the strongest heat, with 3 baristas in total making the finals (one winner and then two high scorers). Expectation was pretty high for this year, even though it changed from a two day heat to a one day heat.
The venue was the St. Austell brewery, and the day had a really nice feel to it. In contrast to the huge space at Magna this heat had a cosy, more intimate feel. Amongst the entrants I knew were 4 entrants I’d judged in their own internal competition and of course Hugo (a regular commentor on here according to the top ten on the right).
I have to confess that I dropped the ball a bit today. I was a bit all over the place and suffering from a lack of sleep and the unfortunate side effects of researching the brewery’s output til the early hours (and seeing as I barely drink any more the effects seemed to be magnified!)
One thing that will perhaps interest UK readers was that one barista – Alysia – worked for Caffe Nero. I have to say I was impressed – she presented well, the shots were well brewed (I didn’t taste them though) and her sig drink was quite good – roasted chilli granita and espresso (I think!). She made the top 5 and deservedly so!
The expectation for the day fell on Hugo – the only previous finalist. Hugo has recently opened his own place and his apron had the logo on which was pretty cool.
His ingredients were all Fairtrade or organic and his sig drink was a rather tasty drink – he described it as a hazelnut mocha but I think it should be talked up a little more. He used a hazelnut praline he’d blendtec’d down as well as some chocolate and some milk with vanilla bean in it. The audience seemed eager to taste it and it went down very well with them.
We chatted about signature drinks and before he went on and talked about our respective drinks. He seemed keen that his drink was practical and attractive to the people that come and buy coffee from him every day. With this I think he has succeeded. I hope he puts it on the menu and I’d be interested to see how many he sells (especially with a little promotion – it being a winning drink and all!)
Have to say I really liked the Origin cups Hugo was using:
Again the local tv turned up – they seemed much politer and stayed around a lot longer than previous crews. I ended up being coerced into shooting some stuff with them – just the basics of brewing and espresso. My latte art, typically, was a bit rubbish! The cameraman turned out to be well into his coffee – though seemed gobsmacked at not only the presence of crema but the quantity. I think he’ll be buying a new grinder very soon!
Again – apologies for being a bit light on content, it won’t happen again. There is, of course, the customary flickr photoset here
All that is left to do is record the top three:
3rd – Izzie Frame
2nd – Tanya Williams
1st – Hugo Hercod
Izzie and Tanya were both from the brewery and I had worked a little with them in the run up and was really pleased they did well, and of course Hugo gave a great performance and deservedly won.