2011 has been a fantastic year. Not only enjoyable on so many levels but also a challenge and therefore Ona’s most rewarding year yet. Every year I look back at the previous twelve months and am always amazed at our progress and development. The previous year has seen the biggest growth in our history in terms of wholesale production however growth in business was not our main focus. 2011’s focus was to improve what we have. Focusing on improving our standards of coffee but also quality of food and service in our café’s, broadening our relationships within all facets of the industry and building a stronger team wherever possible. I’d like to begin, firstly with our success in competitions over the last twelve months, an exciting part of the coffee industry that we love being a part of.
The 2011 competition year began late in 2010 with the ACT barista championships in preparation for an early Nationals (January). As apart of the Australasian Specialty Coffee Association (AASCA) and the World Barista Championships (WBC) here we saw first time competitors Hugh Kelly and Danny Moreno, both from Ona House Fyshwick placing 5th and 4th respectively. 3rd place went to Angus (Gus) Mackie, 2nd place to Sam Corra with myself taking out first place. ACT latte-art championships saw Ona again in 1st, 2nd and 3rd going to Sam Corra, Gus Mackie and Danny Moreno respectively. Also this year saw ACT’s first ever cupping championships. Set to test the baristas palate in both precision and speed this competition was held at local roasters Cosmorex. First time competitor Michael Walker from Cosmorex placing 3rd, with myself 2nd and Sammy Corra out cupping us all to claim victory.
The end of January saw the Australian Barista Nationals up at the Goldcoast. Australia has always performed highly on the world stage with one world barista champion, one runner-up, two 3rd placings and three world latte-art champions. The only way to secure a spot onto the world stage is placing 1st in your own country. The Australian Nationals is one of the toughest of the National comps to win. Although no victors here from ACT (yet) it was great to see Ona representing Canberra in the Barista semi-finals and Cupping and Latte-Art grand finals.
Moving on from the Goldcoast and down to Melbourne in May. Cafebiz 2011 saw two days of tight competitions run by the Café Culture team. For the first year ever coffee ‘State of Origin’ took place. A fast-paced, interactive team competition saw teams of 4 baristas from each state battling head-to-head in latte-art, speed, taste and teamwork. With only the heats being held this weekend Ona’s own Jack Scheeren, Gus, Sam and myself battled against Victoria and NSW to progressive into the next round. Cafebiz also saw ‘Coffee Chain Challenge’, which unfortunately due to a discrepancy of drink service we were disqualified. The last comp for the weekend was the fast pace Pura Latte-Art Championships were baristas must produce four latte-art beverages in under six minutes. YouTube superstar Sam Corra poured the first ‘inverted man’ ever performed in a competition. Gus and Sams own ‘peacock’ creation also saw its first ever appearance on a comp stage which helped Gus secure a silver medal, (Sam unfortunately going over-time).
June saw Sydney’s own Danes Gourmet Coffee and their Grand Barista Championships (GBC). With a new format baristas are required to produce espresso, milk-based, filter coffees and at least one latte-art beverage. The Australian finals saw Danes own Nadine Norman winning with myself taking 2nd place. This result gave me the opportunity to represent Australia in the Australasian finals held in Bangkok on 9th July. Hosted by Paul and Craig Jackson I was flown to Thailand. Against some of Asia’s best baristas under the same format another tough competition. Using one of our favourite single origins for the year-Sidamo Operation Cherry Red from Ethiopia. I was honoured to be awarded 1st place and the Australasian Grand Barista Champion.