So Today has been spent at the UK Barista Championships in London, and much fun was had by me. I really enjoy seeing the Barista craft in action and realising how rubbish I am at pulling shots.
I’m sure others can give you a better run down of competitors (looking at you James) but I was able to try every one of the Signature Drinks (subtle choice of seat, and not moving for six and a half-hours (not even a toilet break)). So what I will do is give you an honest run down of each. All is from memory and not a note in sight so if I get anything wrong, sorry.
First Up (and must be a terrible position to be in) was the Scottish heat winner Ryan McHugh, who only won two weeks ago. His drink was a honey traffic light based drink with strawberries. I don’t remember as much about this drink and that was the problem for me. It lacked any hook but was pleasant, and his presentation was really good.
Nedya I cant be too unbiased on as she used our Cup of excellence blend as here espresso blend, juts bought it of our site, asked for nothing special from us juts bought it as a punter, and this made me incredibly proud. What made me extremely proud was while she was warming up she pulled me the BEST espresso I’ve ever tasted from that blend. But I‘m not talking espresso here.
Her sig drink was amazingly simple but for me really worked. It was based on espresso with a star of anise infusion pre prepared. The taste was burnt orange peal with a dark chocolate, truly that’s exactly how it tasted, very very nice drink.
Next up was Ed Buston, I’d heard a lot about Ed from people in the industry, and wasn’t sure what to expect. What you got was a charming pleasant funny guy who I’m sure I’d get on with over a beer. Charming.
Enough of the Fan club his sig drink was Tea/ americano mixture, that for me didn’t work I’m afraid. Tea’s nice, coffee better but together they didn’t belong. But presented very well, and I think he’s one to watch (although well experienced in competition now) is still very young, and very promising.
Came third in the end, which was deserved.
Subis a very charming lady from Northern island, and I loved her presentation. But I’ll be honest. The thought of here signature drink turned my stomach. I really didn’t like the sound of it, and was considering giving it a miss. Think Strawberries, ice (sounds ok so far) cardamom (ok a bit worrying) and tabasco (ok you see where I’m going).
But I found it challenging and very drinkable and one of the best of the day.
Big things expected from Lou Henry, last year’s runner up. And she wins hands down for her presentation, the table was the best of the day, it looked awesome. I also really like Lou she’s very charming and obviously cares about her craft.
Her sig drink was a fruit puree, espresso and a filtered coffee that was cooled. Didn’t really challenge my taste bud (which I believe a sig drink should) looked great but lacked some depth.
The boy wonder, the current UKBC champion big things were expected. Let me get it out the way we roasted James coffee, so I am biased towards him, but also I think he is one of the best Baristas I’ve ever seen and on his day a real chance of winning the WBC.
I worried about James sig drink, he used a mixed up doughnut, and a centrifuge to create a liquid that he uses as a milk substitute for a latte/ capucinno drink. I was worried its too far, its too challenging for a time constraints, something else to go wrong. But James never takes the easy option.
Called a coffee and a doughnut and tastes just like it says on the tin. Not what I expected at all, it worked. A sig drink I could drink, is it too much for a compertition, well that’s a thought or a post for another time.
Hugo I’ve heard lots about but it’s the first time I’ve seen him use his skills. The sig drink was admirable but a little too simple I think .A hazelnut mocha, sure the hazelnut syrup was infused by him and brought along, incredibly drinkable (I drank ¾ of a mug). But I want challenged with the taste, it was a hazelnut mocha, I can get one of those anywhere. I do get the point I’m thinking he was trying to make (sig drinks being drinks that can be sold in a shop). But until the rules are changed for the competition its just going to put you at a disadvantage, when people bring along centrifuges and fancy tea brewers and use tabasco (yes I’m still amazed about that). I do hope Hugo keeps competing, and I also hope his day comes, incredibly honest and an enthusiast about coffee.
Se rocks, I like Se very very much. He’s a very likeable guy, he’s a true coffee person, a truly highly skilled barista who cares about his craft who will one day represent the UK at a WBC. His sig drink was based on liquorice, and was liquorice root in powder that was dabbed onto the tongue and an espresso with a hint of liquorice.
I wasn’t sure about Jon at the start. The Guinness towel made me think he wasn’t taking it seriously. So when he started and talked about St Patrick’s day yesterday, and hi sig drink based on Guinness I remembered about not judging before you know the storey.
I cant remember what was used to make it apart from espresso and cream, but whatever it was it reminded me of Guinness and was a really great drink. Great presentation and great sig drink.
This is the first time competing for Graz, and he’s a trainer for a big chain of coffee houses here in the UK. I’ve never been a fan of their coffee, but was very impressed they wanted to enter the competition, and more impressed one of there guys won the Bristol heat.
Impressive sig drink involved a calved block of ice, to chill the drink that really added to the presentation. I could see him dropping points for really silly stuff, and I think he would have done loads better if he had just kept some of the silly mistakes out of his presentation. For instance he prepared his sig drinks but didn’t serve the judges just left them in the impressive block of ice. The head judge had to come across and serve them. An the amount of milk he put into his pitcher for the capa’s there must have been a ton of waste. But big props to him very impressed.
You don’t care but here are my top three sig drinks
1 James Hoffman
2 Jon Armstrong
3 Subi Tweed