UK Barista Championship, Northern Region


I just thought I’d get this in before I start mentioning loads of other Coffee companies, Roasters, cafés and trainers that I don’t work with. I work for Pumphreys Coffee as a barista trainer and showroom manager in Newcastle and I’m taking Part in the Scottish Regional heat of the UK Barista Championships on the 23rd.Jan 2008. It didn’t seem fair to Pumphreys to mention everyone else apart from them seeing as I’m putting in the effort of writing this up for everyone.

The Venue for the event was the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield and it took me around 3 hours to get there from my home in Northumberland.

No 1 Carl Fleischer Rotheram College

Due to some parking shenanigans I missed the first few minutes of Carl’s Performance unfortunately. He was a fresh-faced guy from Rotheram College (please correct me if I’m wrong on this one). He spent the remainder of the day after his performance looking enthused by the whole event and snapping away on his camera for posterity.His signature drink was a chocolate orange macchiato, which I enjoyed at the clearing table. It was the well-needed caffeine kick following the long drive down. As far as I can gather he is one of the first guys through the City and Guilds VRQ course being run by the BSA, Paul Meikle-Janney, Ben Townsend et al. If this is the standard of the guys who come out of the course then we have nothing to worry about for the future in the UK. Long Live the C+G VRQ. I’m thinking of trying to get involved myself and certainly enjoyed the workshop earlier in the year.  

No. 2 Marco Marzo – Nonna’s in Shefield

Marco’s performance put me at ease as far as entering this year is concerned. Marco is obviously a great barista in his bar and passionate about his craft. I got the impression that he hadn’t seen a score sheet before as he bashed out 16 drinks in about 12 minutes at a quite unbelievable speed. The blend he was using was the Nonnas shop blend by Café Vergnano 1882 and His signature Drink was an espresso with squirty cream.

No 3 Dino Orsolini Alto Coffee Barnsley

Dino looked good from the moment he set up, although he did seem to have a time adjusting to the odd table set up on stage as the table cloth he came with couldn’t cover the L shaped table. This was something that was mirrored throughout the competition by several competitors and a few chose not to use any table cloths at all. I felt a little sorry for Dino as during his perfomance one the group baskets had a deformity and he couldn’t get his tamper in and out of it. He called a technical and had the basket replaced and time bonus. It seemed to throw him off his performance and although he did well I can’t help thinking that he may have scored better had the technical not occurred.His blend was created for him by Steve at Hasbean and consisted of a Barazilan Pulped Natural, a Guatemalan and some El Salvador. (Clarification Steve?)

No 4 Youri Vlag, Coopers Coffee company

Next up was Youri. His set up looked very professional and clean cut and he didn’t travel light. He came with an extra grinder and a blender for his signature drink. Youri was the only person to use two different coffees for his performance. This sort of thing scares me a bit as I have enough trouble dialling in one grinder under pressure to exactly where I want it never mind two. Maybe that’s something for next year! Youri used a blend of Daterra, El Salvador and Ethiopian Harrar for one of his blends. Due to the lack of Mics I didn’t hear what his second blend was but I have been assured it was something with Grapefruit like acidity. Again Youri had a problem with his tamper and the basket and had to re-pull a set of shots which pushed him over his time. He recovered well to finish with a stylish signature drink of blackberry, chocolate and espresso topped with Vanilla Cream. Rumoured to be the best signature drink of the day.

I certainly learned a couple of things from the last two performances and will be taking extra tampers with me to Edinburgh and checking everything twice when I get on stage. I’d rather not have to fluster myself unnecessarily.

No 5 Connaire Moran Rotheram College

First time competitor Connaire was another graduate from Rotheram college and presented with style and confidence. He used a blend of coffee from café Sienne and was supported by what seemed like the rest of his college. Unfortunatly Connaire’s signiture drink curdled for some reason and I think he lost quite a lot of points for that. He finished slightly over time. A great start. We need more guys like this to take the plunge.

No 6 Duncan Mills Roaster Coffee

Duncan was very nervous before his performance and it showed for the first few seconds. Once he got through his welcome passage he slipped into more of a comfort zone and worked his machine well. Duncan was the first of two competitors from Roasters in Scarbrough a ‘fiercely independent coffee shop’. He used the Roasters house blend, which had been developed with Steve Leighton at Hasbean. It consisted of some Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, some Kalosi and some Brazialian Cachoeira. The deceptively thin dark and white chocolate mocha finished his performance. The lady of a certain age in front of me devoured it as it was cleared so it must have particularly good. Duncan seemed very pleased to get it over and done with and finished 5 second early. I can assure him that he looked more relaxed on stage than he obviously felt.

A quick break for lunch and a Chat with Helen from Beyond the Bean followed. She was compiling scores for the day and was delivered some scoresheets by Anette – (Todays head judge) mid Baked potato. Anette made it very clear that I was not to see the score sheets and despite all of my bribes and deception I didn’t get a peak. Dam it!

No 7 Steph Richardson Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Steph was surprsingly the only female entrant of the day. On home turf and supported by Youri, her trainer, she performed well serving some great capps. Her signiture drink was a spicy orange drink with a cinnamon and clove infusion. Like Youri her table setting was great and here she spoke confidently welcoming the judges to her Sculpture park.

No 8 Enrico Quaglia Nonnas Café Sheffield

Enrico was also from Nonna’s in Sheffield and looked as though he had learned from the mistakes of Marco earlier in the day. He used the same coffee from Café Vergnano 1882 and produced an amoretto flavoured mocha signature drink, which was very pleasant. Enrico had the biggest attack of the nerves of the day and he had a lot of trouble getting the crushed amoretti biscuits he prepared spooned onto his signature drink. I found my hands shaking just watching him.

No 9 Barry Lawrenson Roasters Coffee

Barry produced a very well polished performance and engaged the judges ticking all the boxes technically. I would guess that he had the best technical Score. He did things like show the technical judges the milk waste, show them the espresso base for the capps and was fastidious over his cleaning. This probably puts it in perspective…..he was the only person that I spotted using a map to guide him while arranging his set up table. Again, as Duncan had done in his morning performance Barry used his Hasbean blend which he uses every day in Roasters. Barry had some tremendous support and had closed the café so thet everyone could come and watch. He created a signature drink of Organic Madagascan white chocolate, espresso and a creamy infusion of cardamom vanilla and chilli to top. Again correct me Barry! A very good drink, well presented and the tickle of the chilli in the throught was certainly welcome after all the heavy capps throughout the day. He ran over time by about 3 seconds but was very calm dispute the raucous reactions of the crowd to the ticking clock.All in all a great performance from a fellow geek and TMCer and certainly the crowds favourite of the day.

No 10 Tom Booth Coffee Primo

This was Tom’s first performance and it didn’t seem fair to follow the polished article of Barry. His beans were roasted by Gala and contained quite a bit of robusta which he claimed added a nice flavour to his Capps. His Signature drink of a layered Chai latte looked good and he spent a lot of time preparing it only to tell the judges that it was best drunk all stirred up and mixed together. That confused me quite a bit. I’m sure he took a lot away from the day and I’m sure we’ll see him next year with a more polished and reserched performance.


In our little part of the audience we had a little pole to see who we thought would win. Three names came up and they were matched in the results.

3rd Place – Dino Orsolini – Alto Coffee, Barnsley.

2nd Place – Youri Vlag Coopers Coffee company

1st Place and Northern regional Champion – Barry Lawrenson – Roasters Coffee

Well Done Barry!!!!

 Congratulations to everyone who entered, judged and supported it truly was a great day out!

Judges for the day



1 John Skinner – La Spaziale

2 Sarah Bowler -Matthew Algie

Sensory 1 James Hoffman (World Barista champion) Square mile coffee roasters2 James Shepherd, Matthew Algie3 Pauline Sherwood, SCAE

4 Flying coffee company

Head Judge

Anette Moldvaer – (World cupping champion) Square mile coffee roasters


Paul Meikle-Janney, Coffee community

Floor Manager

Steve Penk- La Spaziale

Scoring compiler Helen Ostle – Beyond the beanWaiting staff Rotheram College

Anouncing the winners

John Sherwood SCAE


4 thoughts on “UK Barista Championship, Northern Region

  1. Great write up there well done (I know how hard it is to do). For the clarification on Dino’s blend the blend was right with the el salvador coming from Finca La Fany and the Guatamalan from Atitilan from El Bosque a great farm on the outskirts of the city.

    Thanks for taking the time Stuart top job

  2. Just to confirm the blend:
    El Salvador: Finca La Fany (wet process)
    Brazil: Cavallho Diaz Fazenda Cachoeira (pulped natural)
    Quatemala: El Bosque Amatitlan (wet process)

    Thanks for the great (and fair) write up.

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