Australian Barista Championship crowns back-to-back winner

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hugh kelly
Hugh Kelly of Canberra’s Ona Coffee was crowned winner of the Australian Barista Championships this weekend, making him only the second Australian to take out the top prize two years in a row. High pipped Axil Coffee Roasters’ Matthew Lewin at the post leaving him in second place, while Jade Jennings of Veneziano Coffee Roasters placed third, a repeat of last year’s top three finalists.
Over three days, the Australian Specialty Coffee Association hosted the Australian Barista, Brewers Cup, Cup Tasters, Pura Latte Art, and inaugural Coffee Roasting Championships under big tent of the Grand Pavilion at the Melbourne Showgrounds. This year, the event attracted a total of 9646 visitors attended the sixth edition of MICE, an increase from the 9213 visitors in 2016.
“Here we go again,” said Hugh. “The level of competition really stepped it up this year. Oddly enough I woke up on the day of the finals with a strange feeling that the universe would be on my side, and it was.”
For his 15-minute routine, Hugh engaged the panel of four sensory judges with his fluid presentation, distinct flavour profiles, and element of fun with tangerine fairy floss he transported from a carnival setting to the judging table. Hugh also used his performance to highlight the need to bridge the gap between specialty coffee and consumers.
“I want to serve quality coffee first and foremost, but I also want to focus on how to make the customer experience better. That’s why I talked to our customers and listened to what they liked and what they didn’t to help create my routine and my beverages.”
Hugh presented four espressos, four milk-based beverages, and four signature drinks for the judges for assessment. He used a washed processed Geisha from Morgan Estate in Panama for his espressos; a natural processed Ethiopian coffee found near the Geisha forest in Wush Wush for his milk-based beverages; and the same Morgan Estate coffee in espresso form with 12 millilitres of peach sous vide liquid, the vapour of jasmine flavours, and 50 grams of tangerine peel and unrefined organic cane sugar for his signature beverage. The result was a tangerine sugar, which he heated at 150°C in a fairy floss machine to create a “tangerine floss”.
Hugh will represent Australia at the World Barista Championship (WBC), taking place in Seoul from 9 – 21 November 2017.
The good news continued for Ona Coffee with its Head Roaster Sam Corra winning the Australian Brewers Cup Championship, while Shindong ‘Aaron’ Su of Short Black Café in Melbourne took the top title in the Australian Pura Latte Art Championship, his creative designs including a Rock Hopper Penguin, Flying Peacock, and Coffee Loving Squirrel – his personal favourite. 
The Australian Cup Tasters Championship went to Yama Kim of Kingswood Coffee in Sydney and in the inaugural Australian Coffee Roasting Championship, Jack Allisey of Veneziano Coffee in Melbourne made history by winning the event.
The World Brewers Cup, World Latte Art, and World Cup Tasters Championship will take place from 13 – 15 June 2017 in Budapest, and the World Coffee Roasting Championship will take place in December in Guangzhou, China.


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