UK Barista Championship: Bristol Heat

WARNING VERY LONG POST

As before: 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 Tobacco Factory in Bristol.

‘The Tobacco Factory is one of the few survivals from the great Imperial Tobacco site on Raleigh Road, Ashton, Bristol. It was saved from demolition by Bristol architect George Ferguson who has turned it into a model of urban regeneration. It is now a multi use building housing the Cafe Bar, Teohs oriental bistro, creative industry work space, live/work loft apartments, animation and performing arts schools and one of the most exciting small theatre venues in the country.’

I think I’ve spent more time inside this building than anywhere else in Bristol as the Beyond the Bean/SCAE/Clifton Coffee Crew put a Jam on there in October. Report here

It seemed that there were a lot of good competitors here I think because of the cancellation of the London heat. My view from the crowd was that this was a stronger heat than the Northern one at the Sculpture park, although rumors and mumblings of points scores might suggest otherwise.Can I say before I start that this review is my view through the dim light and noisy area of competition. If you spot any glaringly obvious mistakes please alert me in the comments and I shall endeavor to put them right. 

No 1    John Drysdale          

Performance:  10.30 

Unfortunately I just caught the last part of John’s performance but I was assured by Jon from Beyond the Bean that it was a ‘solid shop barista Performance’. He looked very confident and relaxed, which was surprising as I have been told since that it was his first time competing. I remember spotting him at the Jam. Definitely a good event for bringing people on. Well done everyone! Please fill me in and I’ll edit this John/crowd members. 

No 2    Lance Turner – Lavazza

Performance:  10.50 

Drink order: Capps, Espresso, Sig. 

Lance had a fantastic presentation in my opinion. I’d heard mutterings that some folk had regarded Lance’s entry as a bit of a laugh but he soon put them in their place. As a rep I’m sure he is used to giving presentations and it showed.

I was fascinated by his silver espresso cups which fitted in perfectly to his black and silver set up. I’ve since been told that they caused a small problem with the life and consistency of his crema and he didn’t get the points he should have due to a wider rim than normal. Still I’d have them in my collection any day. Lance if your throwing them out throw them my way. 

Lance’s blend consisted of coffees from Brazil, Peru, Honduras and a Sumatran Robusta. (Lance further clarification in the comments if you want) His capps looked good but I think I may have put him off by ramming a camera lens pretty close to him when he was pouring. Oh I’m sure I’ll get my comeuppance as everyone gets their own back.  The signature drink was entitled ‘Hot and cold Spiced Macchiato’ consisting of Lemon grass, Galangal (I think) infused into syrup and the combined with rose water and milk over espresso. It was a good use of Thai spices and made for a tasty drink. 

 

No 3    Emma Chapman – The Bottle Kiln, Ilkeston.

Performance:  11.15 

Drink order: Espresso, Capps, Sig. 

Emma had a great set up and had obviously picked up a lot from fellow Bottle Kiln’er Maxine who has competed several times. (To follow) She had a lot of support and there seemed to be people from the Bottle Kiln just about everywhere you looked. 

Emma’s blend consisted of Coffees from Brazil, Honduras and India which created a nutty, chocolaty tasting espresso. Her capps were will poured well and she went down the latte art route. A slight mis-pour on one capp but she rescued it very well. Her signature drink was a short raspberry and chocolate affair which was served in shot sized glasses.

I felt a little sorry for Emma as she was belittled a bit by the compere who suggested that she got her inspiration for the signature drink from all the tequila slammers she’d drunk. It was an uncharacteristic comment from the MC. I would have been fuming at if anyone had said anything like that during a performance I had trained for and researched for months. Nevertheless, she carried on unflustered to complete her performance.  

No 4    Sindy Kamcheong – Ritazza

Performance:  11.40 

Drink order: Capps, Espresso, Sig. Sindy was the set up star of the day with a rose theme echoed even on the lapels of those supporting her. Fresh from her win in the 2007 Caffè Ritazza WorldBarista Championship, Sidney oozed self confidence and composure. Her blend consisted of coffees from Guatemala, Brazil (Daterra) and Sumatra. She opted for traditional capps with milk foamed in ‘the old enemy’, the belly Jug. They looked great and must have tasted just as good as I’m assured she scored well.Sidney split up her drink into components and engaged the judges.

A chocolate Turkish Delight signature drink made with melted organic Ecuadorian chocolate which she offered to all the judges at the start of her performance. The drink was topped with delicate rose-flavoured milk.  She finished well within time although there was nearly a disaster when she knocked one of the espresso parts of her signature drink over when they were served. Quick hands saw to it that it wasn’t.  

No 5    Will Thornborough – Cardiff Coffee Company

Performance:  12.05 

Drink order: Capps, Espresso, Sig. I’ve become quite good friends with Will since the Barista Jam in October and I was very much looking forward to his performance.

I kept sneaking in to the prep room and pinching capps while he set up, which was much appreciated after the slight excess of the night before with everyone.  I do love coffee events as I can chat over a beer about the things I’m doing all day everyday within coffee. I envy the guys who can go into a bar at the end of the week and chat about the little intricacies’ of their job without someone looking at them as if they have two heads. Anyway back to Will. 

Will chose to use two grinders and also two single origin coffees something that I’m a little scared of if I’m honest. I would be too nervous in my first competition to deal with the variables of dialing in two grinders. Maybe next year for me, but fair play to Will for the punt.  

Will’s set up was plain but elegant and he featured a digital photo frame with scrolling pictures taking the judges from Plantation to cup. This was something quite novel that I hadn’t seen before and gave the judges something to do in between tasting the drinks. Wills Capps were served in a wider rimmed cup as opposed to the tulip which is seen so much in competition. He presented with latte art hearts which looked full in the cup. A ginger Macchiato signature drink followed with a ginger syrup which he created himself. (Coffee clarification my old Mate?)  

Lunch break for spectators and judges (and well needed)                                        

12.25 to 1.00 pm 

This is where I get a little hazy as The Tobacco factory was open as usual for lunch and the background noise almost totally drowned out the competitors. Mics would have been a definite help at this juncture. God knows I was close enough to the action.      

No 6    Meagan Donouan

Performance:  1.05 

Drink order: Espresso, Capps, Sig. 

Meagans’s set had a Guatemalan feel and she benefited from the refreshed judges.  She coped well with having to re-pull some shots for her capps and it didn’t seem to fluster her too much although as soon as she’d finished you could see the relief on here face. 

Her signature drink was served in opaque white wine glasses and featured a mango and cinnamon compote with coconut milk and espresso. She finished in good time and had a very clean and tidy station. 

  

No 7    Ben Townsend – Independent

Performance:  1.40 

Drink order: Capps, Espresso, Sig. 

Ben’s set up featured specially made wooden blocks on which he served all of his drinks. They featured concentric rings cut out of the wood to fit each of the cups in his performance.

The first thing that struck me about his performance was the extra bit of equipment A candy floss maker. My mind boggled and I was very much anticipating its use.  Due to the background noise I couldn’t catch anything Ben was saying but he managed to get everything across to the judges. I’m very interested in his blend if anyone can help.  He poured some great Capps from what I could see. And his espresso must have been equally as good. 

Ben engaged the judges in the signature drink by serving some pomegranate ‘sorbet’ and getting the judges to vigorously stir the espresso and syrup concoction with the end of their candy floss stick which as beautifully served in its own stand. I haven’t seen so much concentration from the judges, I had a little titter to myself and snapped away to capture the moment for posterity. 

I’m quite peed off actually as before the event Ben was the one competitor I would have chosen to see if I could only pick one to get info on. I need more information on Ben’s performance!! 

 No 8    Simon Buckingham – Tinto

Performance:  2.05 

Drink Order: Espresso, Capps, Sig. 

Simon was a first time competitor and had been gently pushed by Ed Buston his coffee supplier I think. He summed up the whole feel of the day when he said that he had learned a tremendous amount from the day and wanted to compete again next year.

We need more guys like this! His set up was very minimal and he would have defiantly lost a lot of points for not having teaspoons, an apron and napkins and he didn’t address the judges much at all until his last drink. 

His signature drink was honey, Belgian Chocolate, espresso and cream and was one on my favorites of the day. I would have drunk another one, which is always a good test. I’m not sure if he would have scored well with it as he undoubtedly lost point technically. But still….tasty. 

No 9    Maxine Beadsmore – The Bottle Kiln, Ilkeston

Performance:  2.30 

Drink order: Capps, Espresso, Sig. 

Maxine is a seasoned competitor and you could tell straight away from her set up. She again, like Ben had individual wooden blocks on which to serve all her drinks and matched the set up with some soft African music and as Sindy had done before, went with a rose theme. 

Her blend contained some Tanzanian AA, Indian Robusta, Bourbon (?) and some Ethiopian.  She poured some great capps and didn’t follow the majority opting against splitting her milk for each capp. 

Her signature dirk was a rose syrup espresso and Turkish delight with pistachio foam. I was a little surprised when Maxine finished seeing her get very emotional. She must have thought that she had done something badly wrong but I thought she put in a solid well researched performance. 

No 10  Lauren Card – The good Eating Company

Performance:  2.55 Drink Order: Capps, Espresso, Sig. 

Lauren had a fantastically green set up with a bespoke badge on her apron. It was a very refreshing take on what had been a very repetitively clean and crisp set of table settings up until now. She used granet bowls for the sugar and put ‘eco’ products to good use throughout the performance. 

She decided to present her blend to the judges as they would be cupped, letting each judge spell the aromas of each component as they would no doubt be very used to in their various roles within the coffee industry. I thought this was a great touch as it engaged the judges.

Her blend consisted of some Colombian, Guatemalan and some Finca La Fany, El Salvador coffee.  Unfortunately in her hast she poured the water into wrong cups to start and had to re-pour so as not to upset the rest of the performance. This seemed to put her a little on the backfoot to start but she soon got into the swing of things with her capps. 

Her signature drink consisted of a mint and mocha frappe in which she used fresh mint leaves. It was a very clean refreshing taste but I was still thinking about trying to get another of Simons drinks and it didn’t dissuade me.

  

No 11  Fabrizio Liverani – Drury Tea and Coffee

Performance:  3.20 

Drink order: Espresso, Capps, Sig. 

Fabrizio immediately got the crowds attention as he started to set up when he brought on to stage some raw eggs. His table set up was a cloth made from hessian sacks of various origins which looked as though it had been cobbled together. I can’t help thinking about Sế’s performance last year and how much better he presented the same idea.  

Fabrizio started well with his Espresso and moved swiftly on the his capps. He foamed his milk at his station and then set up to pour infornt of the judges. I’m not sure this was a very good idea for him as he put an unnecessary amount of pressure on himself. A very sold performance turned into a nervous one as he started to shake while pouring his traditional capps. They all came out great and were served to the judges and a relieved Fabrizio started on his signature beverage.

He immediately got back in the groove and looked confident as he described the traditional Italian drink his grandmother used to make. He then skillfully cracked eggs and separated the yolks out and combined them with almond syrup, sugar and the espresso.  A good performance but I think he made it difficult for himself. 

No 12  Elliot O’Mara – James’ Gourmet Coffee  

Performance:  3.45 

Drink Order: Sig, Capps, Espresso. 

The one comment that I could have about Elliot is that I thought his presentation was a stereotypical English performance. He was very clean, organized and accurate. I almost wanted to get my stiff upper lip out. It was an enormous contrast to Fabritzios passion and nervousness. He almost seemed removed from himself from his performance. 

Elliots coffee was a Finca Siberia from El Salvador, reputed to be run by a relation of the more famous Finca la Fany estate. The coffee undoubtedly had cranberry notes that carried on through all the drinks. 

Interestingly Elliot started with his signature drink which was a cranberry juice foam over the espresso. The eagle eyed amongst you will spot a mistake there. Cranberry juice doesn’t foam very well at all. To remedy this he added some protein powder and areolatte’d it up to create a foambable liquid. For me this drink didn’t work. It was overpoweringly acidic and I didn’t think it worked too well. You could tell that the coffee was oozing cranberry through all the drinks built but I think it would have been scored a little better if he had maybe started with the capps and finished with the Signiture drink. IMHO. I bet the combination worked a lot better in practice sessions.  

His capps were good and defiantly had that cranberry taste although it was much more present through the milk the acidity was dulled just enough.

Results

3rd 

Maxine Beadsmore

2nd

Ben Townsend

1st 

Sindy Kamcheong

Well Done Sindy!!

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

Judges for the day

  

I think I’m going to have to live blog Scotland as writing this up while preparing for competition became a chore rather than a pleasure. More templates required for a quick completion I think. 

Helen From beyond the bean has asked me to help her with a piece for Barista Magazine, so I’ll no doubt be badgering all of you for finite clarification on your drinks. 

I hope you enjoyed it. 

To bed……. 

Stu 

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10 thoughts on “UK Barista Championship: Bristol Heat

  1. Cheers Guys, I’m really feeling it today though. Good job I’m preparing for tomorrow and have a lots of coffee around I can tell you.

    PeterJ – It seemed as though I was a bit harsh on Elliot. Did that sig drink work a little better in practice? I suppose with a coffee like that you can either get is very right or wrong. I’m imagine there was little margin for error. I hope you’re not judging me tomorrow!!!!

    Tristan – I’m going to bring the little sis to make notes for the ones’ I can’t see. There will still be plenty to comment on as the heat has been increased to 14. I need to make the template for the post tonight and just fill in the important bits as we go along.

  2. Stu
    Superb reporting!
    You caught the mood just right.
    The best of luck. We all look forward to your live blog.
    Cheers
    lance

  3. Hi Stu,
    Great report, I must say I have checked the site everyday since wednesday in anticipation! I must agree with the other first time competitors, it is a steep learning curve on the day and can’t wait to give it another crack next year.

    Coffee’s were:

    Cappuccino: Fazenda Fortaleza
    Espresso and Signature Drink: Finca el Injerto

    I think I may have let the coffee’s down on the day, I wasn’t really sure of myself in the practice time and definatly didn’t get all that was in them onto the table. Both were fantastic coffee’s, but I can’t deny being kinda glad that I have run out of them now after tasting thousands of the same cup in the past 3 months!
    It was great to see you again and to meet Lorna, good luck tomorrow and have a great time!
    Wills

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