Melbourne’s Craig Simon crowned Australian Barista Champion
Melbourne proves its worth as coffee capital, with Brisbane competitors also performing well.
Melbourne’s own Craig Simon is the winner of the Detpak Australian Barista Championships, that took place from 4 – 6 May at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo.
The annual competition sees the country’s best baristas test their skills in a timed format. As the winner, Simon will go on to compete at the World Barista Championships, taking place from 12 – 15 June in Vienna, Austria. Nearly 60 countries participate in the international competition.
Simon is a roaster at Veneziano Coffee in Abbotsford. He started competing in 2008, and has previously placed fourth and fifth at the national level.
“It’s a very humbling experience to represent my country,” says Simon. “It’s wonderful to be acknowledged for my hard work.”
Simon travelled to El Salvador in 2011 and again in February of this year to select his winning coffee by farmer Emilio Lopez, at his Finca El Manzano plantation. Emilio had watched Simon compete via live online streaming at last year’s Australian competition.
At the coffee farm, Simon tested 150 coffees before he chose his winning blend.
The Melbourne International Coffee Expo welcomed 100 exhibitors and thousands of attendees to the inaugural coffee trade fair. The event was the largest dedicated coffee expo to take place on Australian soil.
This is the first year the Detpak Australian Barista Championships took place at a focused coffee expo. The competition is organised annually by the Australasian Specialty Coffee Association (AASCA). In the event, participants are given 15 minutes to prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks. They are evaluated by seven judges for the taste of their coffee and their technical skills on the machine.
The Pura Latte Art Championships also took place at the expo, where competitors need to replicate three latte art designs they prepared and photographed beforehand. Scott Luengen from Cup Specialty Coffee in Brisbane was crowned the new Pura Australian Latte Art Champion, and will compete alongside winners from all over the world from 1 – 4 November at the Café & Bakery event in Seoul, Korea.
Luengen has been active in the Australian Barista Competition scene for four years, coming in third in 2011. The 20-year-old has been a barista since he was 14.
“I’ve spent many hours and many nights alone training,” he says. “I think I peaked at the right time. I’m stoked to be competing for the world title. I can’t wait to represent Australia and do the Aussies proud.”
In the Detpak Cup Tasting Championship, competitors’ sensory skills are put to the test, as they race against the clock to identify which coffee out of groups of three are different.
Fred Lullfitz won the Cup Tasting competition, successfully identifying the different coffee in eight out of eight groups of cups. Lullfitz works for DiBella Coffee in Brisbane, and was able to identify the correct coffee in just two minutes and four seconds. Lullfitz has been practicing cupping for the last year, and trained twice a week ahead of the competition.
“I was nervous leading up to the competition because I knew what strong contenders I was up against,” says Lullfitz. “I didn’t expect to get this far, let alone the worlds. The aim for today was just not to get too stressed, and just have fun at the competition. To pick the coffee, I just went with my gut feeling.”
Lullfitz will join Simon in Vienna for the World Cup Tasting Championships.
The Melbourne International Coffee Expo also saw the first ever Australian Brewer’s Cup Competition, where participants practice hand brewed and filter coffee techniques. They have five minutes to set up workstations and produce three cups of brewed coffee for a panel of judges.
Matt Perger from St Ali in South Melbourne, who is also the 2011 Detpak Australia Barista Champions, won the new competition.
“I’m really excited to be the first Australian Brewer’s Cup Champion and represent Australia at the world level,” he says. “I was up against some very good competitors.”