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Midlands UKBC Regional Heat 2007

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.

Jennifer Capitano (Gloria Jeans Coffee, Derby)

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.

Danielle Hadley (Conservatory Cafe, Ludlow Food Centre)

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.

Fitzroy Thorpe (Le Cafe, Keele University)

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.

Ed Buston (Clifton Coffee)

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

And the winner is

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.

12 Comments

  1. You started so I have to ask – wtf happened?
    A shame there were only 4 contenders, but I see that James has left a high barrier to entry for first-timers … which is not a bad thing per se 😉

  2. ‘Tis a shame about the small quantity but it sounds as if the quality was good. Thanks for the write up Steve.

  3. I think the take up was low because of how close the northern heats are in location, and how entering that one will give you a few more weeks preparation. But the quality was very good. Good signs.

  4. Cheers for the write up steve (sorry about the chin!).

    I just hope we get the people who miss out on the finals to compete again. It was a great pleasure to host and I know the Midlands Heats next year will be better attended.

  5. Never mind the coffee …. good shot Paul! 😛

  6. “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.”

    I’m just a simple colonial. Is that UK speak for an invitation to ask what happened?

    Thanks for the snapshots. I always admire these young ppl for having the b’s to compete 🙂 I hope they realise that ppl outside the industry also appreciate their drive, enthusiasm, and commitment whether or not they make it to the finals 🙂

  7. Marcy I’m too troubled to talk about the incident, it was in front of the WBC champ and the World taster champ and I could see the horror on their face at the unprovoked attack. The wounds are still to sore (literally), but I think where there is blame there is a claim.

  8. Brilliant Steve, I nominate you to take up the hoffman “report on all heats” role and put all your photos on flickr. If not you how will us geeks in the far flung regions get a look at what’s going on. nice to see Danielle and Ed still competing well done, the final will be well competitive this year. I see all the other sponsors(fun loving criminals) were also there, t’would be nice to have links for all to post photos and opinions

    Possible discussion point, have any of you mainland guys given any thought as to why the relative lack of interest in London and the Midlands heats should be so, whereas here in N. Ireland, for another year we have so many contenders that the heats are run over 2 days and are still so oversubscribed that people have to travel to other heats to compete. And might this also reflect on the quality in the cup at retail level???

  9. I wish I had the time Se to go around all the heats, twas good fun, but chewed up a whole day. I’ll be at the Northern heats for sure, N.I. heats may be a little harder to sort.

    I think a lot of the N. Ireland interest is generated by the very close coffee community you have in that part of the world, and the support of cafe owners like yourself Se’ it makes a big difference.

    The London heats confuses me, although not a great cafe scene for quality there are some very notable exceptions. I guess part of this there is little to gain and lots to lose for some from competitions. But there is also a lack of interest from the London based roasters that I think could drive a great heat.

    The midlands I think will grow but for a long time there has not been a proactive host of the event, and I hope that this year that the foundations have been set and I hope next year you will see a real push from this area.

    N. Ireland heats rock and the quality of Barista is very high. The winner of that competition I think will be one of the favorites fro the finals.

  10. Se’ its a really good point why the midlands heats are so poorly attended and Im interested in anyones thoughts. I thought this year, with all the interest surrounding Jims win, it would be easier than ever to get people involved.

    My particular point is that with the nothern heats less than an hour away and 6 weeks later surely its better to have that time to practice and polish your performance? I’m going to try and get to as many of the heats as I possibly can and talk to as many hosts/competitors to see how we can make the midlands heats better. If I get the gig again next year – I am sure this will evolve into a better heat.

    I would like to put on record now that the midlands heats will be full next year – as Im going to be working my butt off to make that happen!

  11. Paul congratulations on getting the heat up and running. Maybe there are geek barista and lazy barista. We’ll have a talk about it over a pint i’m sure somewhere along the line.

    Regards Sé

  12. […] A report on the Quite poorly attended event is here on Steve’s Blog […]

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