The results are in for the Australian Barista Championships, with finals held 4-6 May at Melbourne's first International Coffee Expo – bringing coffee lovers and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shiny Italian hardware under one heavily sponsored roof at the Melbourne Showgrounds.
Melbournian Craig Simon, a coffee roaster at Abbotsford's Veneziano Coffee, took out the top gong in his third attempt at the title (Simon has previously placed fourth and fifth in the comp).
In the event, participants are given 15 minutes to prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks. Competitors are evaluated by seven judges for the taste of their coffee and their technical skills on the machine. It's a competition so carefully measured even the judges go through a judging process, studying for days for the right to be some of the most caffeinated people in the country – if only for one weekend.
Simon, who personally travelled to El Salvador to pick out his winning beans, now heads to Vienna in June to compete for the title of World Barista Champion among thirsty competitors from nearly 60 countries.
For those who came to drink, not brew, there was plenty to occupy – with a shed the size of a small football field dedicated to every element of coffee production and thousands of litres of free brew, it's no surprise we're still having trouble sleeping. Perhaps next year they could offer a jumping castle or complimentary gift bags with a mild tranquilizer.
The Latte Art Championships also took place at the Expo, and Scott Luengen from Cup Specialty Coffee in Brisbane was crowned the new champion. Matt Perger from St Ali in South Melbourne, who is also the 2011 Australia Barista Champion, took home the first ever title for hand brewed and filter coffee in the Australian Brewer’s Cup.
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