Yesterday (21st of november) I spent the day at the Midlands UKBC (United Kingdom Barista championships) regional heat. It was hosted by my Good Friend Paul Walker from Purebeans who is a wholesaler in Derby, and sponsored by the usual suspects (La Spazilae, Cravendale, Espresso Warehouse Essenze syrups, Beyond the Bean, Daily Grind, Mercanta and London School of coffee, Bunn and I think fresh and mahlkonig (sorry If I missed anyone).
The first thing was Paul was a great host, everything was thought of, hotels for people traveling and entertainment the Tuesday evening (worse luck I had to leave early before it started), great venue in Derby University in there main entrance which was a really breath taking environment. I even got a meal ticket thrust in my hand to get something to eat which I thought was a really nice touch.
Which makes it even worse that there were only four competitors in the event, after all this hard planing and work. But the standards where high and it was great to see everyone compete. The competitors order was
1st to perform Jennifer Capitano (Gloria Jeans Coffee, Derby)
I didn‘t get o see to much of Jennifer, but what I did see she looked very competent indeed, her drinks looked good. The only minus I might give is she was very quite and didn‘t seem to give the judges much info and seemed a little nervous (fair enough going up first). But a solid start for sure.
2nd to Perform Danielle Hadley (Conservatory Cafe, Ludlow Food Centre)
Danielle had competed before and I had heard she was a contender. I’ve also heard that where she works are really supportive of the barista craft. The one thing I liked was she made an effort to include the judges and made an effort to really go for that professional look. Her performance was very polished and obviously something she has spent a lot of time working on. Certainly worthy of the good things I had heard.
3rd to perform Fitzroy Thorpe (Le Cafe, Keele University)
I really liked Fitzroy, very casual very calm attitude and didn‘t seem phased by his first ever competition. I was also impressed that he worked in a Uni coffee shop at Keele and that his employers were really behind his entry and all there to support him. He was very confident in his presentation and was really pleased for him, he was a very likable guy and has bags of potential.
4th to perform Ed Buston (Clifton Coffee)
Ed I do know quite a bit about. He came third in last years UKBC final, and as he reminded me when I saw him, I said in this blog I was not keen on his sig drink. A tad embarrassed I racked my brains about what I wrote about his performance. I couldn‘t remember exactly, but I had good memories of his performance. Reading back I said he was the kind of guy I could share a beer with and loved his fun performance and had bags of potential. Without any beer he did make me and a couple of friends a capa that was really enjoyable and much needed.
His performance was very good and his sig drink looked really interesting this year (didn‘t get to try it though). I spoke to him afterwards and he said he was much happier with everything this time around. He’s recently become a farther and the sleepless nights and the nappy changing seem to be agreeing with him.
After the performances I did a little cupping session for people to try some coffees, I wasn‘t as organized as I would have liked, but everyone loved the Kenya Gethumbwini.This was fun to do and a good reason to get out the roastery and enjoy the competition.
The final winners were announced and they were
1. Ed Buston (Clifton Coffee)
2. Danielle Hadley (Conservatory Cafe, Ludlow Food Centre)
3. Jennifer Capitano (Gloria Jeans Coffee, Derby)
4. Fitzroy Thorpe (Le Cafe, Keele University)
Well done to all four of them. The standard for just four people was very high and signals good things for next years WBC defense. Watch out world the UK are not one trick pony’s after all.
For the set of photos from the event take a look here
We wont talk about the scar on my chin from the savage attack by the host, which involved much blood and a grinder. Its best you don’t ask.