Last Wednesday evening (03 June 2015), I was lucky enough to make it down to La Marzocco in Parnell, to watch New Zealand’s finest throw down their sets before heading over to the worlds in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Of course I am talking about the talented, Addison Dale, Nic Rapp and Sam Low. These three are each national champions in their specified area of brewing, and it was with great pleasure the crowd witnessed the amount of effort, pride and quality they put into their routines.
First up to show his hard work was Addison Dale from Pure Café Co. Earlier in the year this man became the Huhtamaki NZ Barista champ. It was quickly realised why he was awarded this championship through his focus, precision and attention to detail. Everything down to his specialty cup of choice was of an epitome of quality and the audience was blown away when offered the chance to try.
He explained afterwards that he had 9 days between the NZ Champs and the World Champs, and even though the same routine was shown at both, they were packaged in a very different manner. The main reason behind this was because at the World Champs the judges didn’t speak English, meaning he had to slow his talking down and ensure the information was conveyed in the easiest most understandable manner. Additionally, at Worlds the milk was of course foreign so a strong skill set was needed to ensure this factor remained at par with his competitors. Through his experience in competition, Addison said he manages his nerves by pacing, maintaining attention to detail and ensuring appropriate practise is managed leading up to any big event. He wants to compete in next year’s World Championships and we would be very happy if he were to do so.
Up next was Nic Rapp from Flight Coffee, Wellington. Nic is a two-time NZ Brewer’s Cup Champ and this will be his first year competing on the world stage. He is beyond ecstatic to be travelling to Sweden, as he will get to experience how others in his specified area approach coffee. He is very much seeing it as a great learning curve allowing himself to develop and grow his brewology. In saying this, his favourite part of these sorts of competitions is to both taste the greatest coffees of the year, as well as become aware of what he needs to match and strive for, and of course meeting the different coffee personalities around the world.
Tonight Nic showed us a Colombian roast brewed through the Kalita wave (different to his World Champs routine), and illustrated how control is key to ensuring the appropriate tasting notes and aromas are achieved. One way Nic does this is to ensure grind size is controlled, and this is realised by sieving it all out so he is exactly aware of the sizes used. The main reason behind his Colombian coffee choice is due to Richard, one of the faces of Flight Coffee, who travels to Colombia and works closely with farmers, so Nic feels a real connection to this chosen coffee.
Last up was Sam Low from Atomic Coffee Roasters Auckland, and he is the 2015 Meadow Fresh NZ Latte Art Champion. Fortunate for us Sam showed the designs he will be taking to the World Champs, and therefore no photos were taken. However to say the least, what we saw was exceptional and there is no question that Sam has devoted a lot of time (and wasted milk!) to his prestige art pieces. What we can say, is that Sam will be using the new Tiamo milk jugs, and from our understanding these really aid precision as they slope forwards so he can get closer to the crèma, as well as the back of the cup. Sam believes that the only way to improve as an artist is to constantly try new pours, he believes a lot of people who are better at tulips tend to stick with these and perhaps its better to break out of your comfort zone and really push for other designs. “Go hard or go home” he says, creativity and difficulty slates clarity so don’t be scared to push the boundaries. Among the panel Sam was presenting to was Kim Boyd, and she explained that the judges are looking for a competitor who is able to replicate things, illustrate quality foam and having harmony within size and position just to name a few.
Among the guests at this outstanding event was Coffee Lab's very own Kristiane McGregor, the 2015 Huhtamaki NZ Cup Tasters Champion. She too is off to the World Champs for her second time.
From the team at blackcoffeeonly.com, we wish everyone all the best and are sure all involved will perform to the highest standard and be proud of the effort they have put in!
Lastly big thank you to Flight Coffee and La Marzocco for making this awesome night possible.