This is the second Aroma that i have attended and instead of slaving over an espresso machine all day pumping out coffee, I had the pleasure of being the head judge at Sydney’s latte art comp. For those who don’t know the festival, its bloody huge and brings in, up to and often over 90 thousand visitors for the day! I am thinking that it could, very well, be the largest outdoor coffee festival in the world, but I can’t back that up. Its held at the Rocks and over looks the Harbour Bridge and Sydney’s Opera house, so as far as settings go it has to be amongst the best in the world, am I being too patriotic?
Early morning at the Rocks
3pm full swing
I was lined up to be head judge in the morning and in the afternoon Jack Hanna, current world latte art champ, was to take over the duties and finish the day. The day was interesting and it is at least funny to see that the same problems that arise on the day seem to happen in one way or another in Ireland, UK and the States, just part of the game I guess.
the stage whilst setting up
Out of all the guys that I judged Reuben of Mecca on King street was the most consistent and technically correct. He managed to only be 8 seconds over the hard to reach 8 minuet time slot, something which no one else that morning seemed able to do! I was pretty unimpressed with most other contestants as they seem to have put little to no effort into the comp, and it seemed like a bit of an after thought. I guess its still in its infancy so everyone is there to learn, including myself.
During this Jack Hanna got up to do a show for everyone, which was fantastic the guy is quite a showman and is very confidant in front of the crowd. Not sure how many coffees he made but he managed to inspire Ben D’Ememd, Campos head barista to try some new stuff in Campos weekly Latte art SMACK DOWN!
I had been waiting all day in anticipation for Scott’s full dress performance in front of the crowd and what would turn out to be punter judges! Things got of to a bad start when Scott burnt a whole in the plastic cover on the Deli- Corte by the bottom of his hot pan. Calmly Scott announced that the GB5 has a steel plate top and this would not happen in Japan, as some help ran off to get his other pan. All in all his performance was really good he was calm and talking a lot. I took some notes with the view of sharing some thoughts but our paths never really crossed, and from the vantage point that I had, they might not of been spot on. Anyway who the hell am I to offer advice when i was not asked?!
I was told that I was rostered on the Champions Bar to pull some shots but after I had finished judging I looked at the roster, my name was not put on… Kind of good actually as I have not actually won anything other a small latte art comp in Glasgow, were I won a 5 day trip to Milan Italy in October. Oh and I did represent Ireland in the Ireland V UK Team barista challange 2005 with Stephen Morrissey (IRE) and Arther Wynn (AUS). I was starving and had a thirst so at about 3pm I took off to have some beers at the opera house bar and catch up with some old friends.
Paul Bassit at the sunbeam stand
Slow motion footage of a naked portifilter mid pour
The top three latte art winners were as follows
1. Tristan Creswick (Australian Beverage Corporation)
2. Reuben Mardan (Mecca)
3. Habib Maarbani (?) (I should really find out where he works)
So congrats to all three!
Out doors in winter, Ireland eat your heart out!
Julia and I
Kate and Nick (Nick Lamshed was my former drummer in my old band, Doubled)
The next day was spent doing a cafe tour with WA Barista champ Nolan, I picked him up from out the front of Single Origin were I had the best coffee to date there. We then went to see Allpress and have some coffees on the clover that they have operating there. James the head barista took time out to talk to us, so as usual it was a pleasure to be there. After a quick visit to Campos roastery we then went to have a coffee at mecca where Mars made one of the nicest espressos I have had there as well! It really was a day of great coffee as all the places we went to, did not pull a single bad shot, how good is that!
Ernest making love to the roaster at Campos
Later at Mecca with Nolan
Nolan WA barista champ
Double ristretto piccolo soy latte (Nolan makes the barista work for his money, this one is by Mars)
Flat white by Mars at Mecca
Nolan has some big plans for next years comp and even bigger plans for Melbourne, though I am not really sure that I should announce on them.
I’ll end on this flat white that I got a Mecca about a week latter by either Alex or Reuben of Mecca.