The News From Barista Competition In New Zeland
The aroma of freshly ground coffee was thick in the air in the Christchurch Convention Centre yesterday.
More than 20 smartly dressed South Island baristas battled for the title of top South Island coffee maker in the regional heat of the New Zealand National Barista Awards.
A panel of seven judges sipped coffee and cleaned their palates with white bread and crackers before determining which two competitors would go on to the national final at the Wild Bean Cafe Festival and Awards in Auckland in November. The National Barista of the Year will qualify to enter the world competition in Tokyo in 2007.
Among the judges was Emma Markland-Webster, one of two barista judges in New Zealand with world accreditation.
She won the competition in its first year, 2001, and went on to become the best female barista in the world in 2002.
She said the level of coffee-making had really jumped over the years and when judging she was looking for technical skills, taste, aroma, style and a fluidity of movement from the barista.
"They need to be able to walk their talk ... it's all about stepping outside the square," she said.
Each competitor had 12 minutes set-up time,15 minutes competition time and seven minutes clean-up. During the competition time baristas were required to make four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature beverages.
Cerebos Gregg's New Zealand food service manager Nic McClean said this year was the first time the signature beverage component had been added to the competition and it brought them in line with the World Barista Championships.
McClean founded the competition and said it was all about raising the standards of coffee in New Zealand.
"It's a funky and creative industry, it's an art form," he said.
New Zealanders were sophisticated coffee drinkers and the country always came in the top 10 in the world final.
South Islanders usually did better than North Islanders, McClean said.
|FINISHING TOUCHES: |
Christopher Garbutt works on his signature piece during the South Island heat of the New Zealand National Barista Awards.
* Carl Sara and Rob Dempsey - both of Christchurch were the top baristas of the night and now go on to compete for the national title in Auckland in November.