The first in our series of stories covering the ASCA judges, Melissa (Mel) Caia is an ASCA judges’ calibration and accreditation lead instructor, having judged both state and national barista competitions for a number of years.
Q: Tell us how you got into the coffee industry in the first place
A: I was working in a local café that had a strong focus in coffee which gave me the inspiration to learn more about it; that was 20 years ago! I loved the whole café scene and was introduced to the Coffee Academy in 2003. Although my university studies were leading me to another career, I transitioned into coffee education in 2006 and as they say the rest is history!
Q: What’s your ASCA judging experience? Have you been a judge in any world championships?
A: I first started judging for ASCA in 2007. In 2013 I certified as a World Barista Sensory Judge and have been judging at World Barista Championships since. I feel ancient! But I love judging and the relationships you build – it’s amazing. You never stop learning or absorbing new things.
A couple of years ago I wanted to make sure ‘we’ (Australia) were hosting and running effective competitions especially for the judges, ensuring they are looked after, recognised and have the support they need to do the job they volunteer to do… this is mainly how the ASCA Competitions Committee came about as a few of us (judges) are members. There are about six different Coffee Championships that we run each year and it involves a great deal of organising and arranging including consistency of processes and procedures… We are ALL volunteers and without us all playing a role and helping they would not be the best competitions.
Q: Can you explain how the ASCA Australian Barista Championships work for those who might be watching for the first time?
A: In Australia ASCA run 4 regional competitions with the winner of each progressing to semi-finals. ASCA also rank the scores of regional competitors and the top 12 earn a place in the open rounds at the ASCA Australian Barista Championships.
Mel will be judging the ASCA Australian Barista Championships at MICE2019, get your tickets today so you can catch the championships up close!