World Coffee in Good Spirits finalists announced

World Coffee in Good Spirits finalists announced

The announcement came late in the afternoon at the World of Coffee expo, after a long day with many incredible performances.

The competition involves several rounds during which the competitors must prepare coffee based cocktails using a range of sponsored spirits and liqueurs.

Unfortunately, ONA Coffee’s Danny Wilson did not advance to the final round, but is happy with his performance. Danny competed in the World Coffee in Good Spirits (WCiGS) competition last year in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and placing 3rd overall.

“It’s so amazing to be back on the world stage and serving my drinks to the judges,” he said shortly after the announcement.

“I learned so much at last years competition and the drinks I served today reflected the lessons I took from Brazil.”

Yesterday Danny served his ‘Travellers Tipple’ cocktail, which combined a carbonic maceration (CM) Ethiopian coffee extracted through a Trinity brewer, combined with Licor 43 Baristo liquer,

In today’s stage time, Danny served two drinks; a cold drink he named ‘Merchants Courage’ which combined (CM) Ethiopian coffee, lemon myrtle agave, Gin Meridor, Icewine Vidal and Black Sheriff Agricole Rhum.

For his hot drink, Danny produced a cocktail he named the ‘Farmers Market’. He again used the CM Ethiopian, but extracted it as espresso  and filtering it through a V60 filter before combining it with a homemade pear and ginger syrup, and a ‘breakfast vodka’ made by infusing oats with Underground Spirits Caramel Vodka from Canberra.

The finalists will advance to tomorrows round, in which they must make a ‘designer drink’ of their choice as well as an Irish Coffee. The performances will be live streamed via the World Coffee Events website.

 

 

Building coffee cocktails, with Danny Wilson

You have competed several times in barista competitions, even making the finals of the ASCA national competition. What made you start to compete in CiGS?

For me, taking part in Coffee in Good Spirits [CiGS] was a really refreshing new direction. I learnt so much competing in the barista championship and it helped me to hone my coffee skills, improve my barista technique and learn to control coffee flavour. CiGS really opened up what I could do with these skills, creating new and exciting coffee drinks and combining my ideas with the world of cocktails and bartending.

 

How does the CiGS competition differ from other coffee competitions? What is your favourite part?

My favourite thing about CiGS is that it doesn’t have the rigid structure of the other competitions. A CiGS performance will include espresso drinks, filter brewing, bar skills, flair and so many different ingredients. The performances and cocktails served will be wildly different from competitor to competitor and at the World championship each day of competition features a new set of rules and challenges. To be competitive in CiGS you need to be able to change and adapt quickly and have confidence in the choices you are making.

 

How does your work as a coffee roaster influence you as a competitor in barista and CiGS competitions?

My background as roaster is fundamentally linked to how I think about creating drinks. Initially in selecting and preparing coffee for the barista championships it helped me to understand the impact of coffee origin and process in the cup. As I became more experienced I realised I could transfer my skills in creating coffee blends to mixing together ingredients in a cocktail. I think the cocktail and coffee worlds have more in common than many people realise and by drawing on the knowledge of two industries we can really learn a lot.

 

You travelled to Gothenburg in 2015 with the Australian CiGS champion, Lucas Woods. What changes have you noticed in the competition between then and now?

The competition in 2015 was a lot of fun, it was the first time Lucas and I had ever been at a world championship and looking back there were so many amazing baristas and bartenders competing. The biggest difference now, however, is you can’t just specialise in one of these fields. The top competitors now in CiGS need to have an expert grasp of both barista and bar skills.

 

What was the most valuable lesson you learned when you were training last year (for both nationals and worlds)?

It really pays to practice your techniques early. Last year I was drawing of a vast amount of experience in barista competition and this reflected in my performance. Even though I had a great concept and tasty drinks many of the bartending techniques were quite foreign to me. I was lucky to spend time with previous WCiGS champion Martin Hudak who has worked some of the world’s best bars and he corrected some of my poor techniques. This year though, I’ve focused on honing these skills and practicing for longer on the fundamentals of bar craft so when the time came for competition I could rely on my experience.

 

How would you explain the relationship between coffee and alcohol when constructing a drink (ie is balance most important, presence/expression of coffee etc)?

Balance is crucial for any drink, especially when you are combining complex tasting ingredients like coffee and spirits. Beyond that it’s good to this about what kind of drink you are creating and matching with how you prepare the coffee. For example a long, tropical soda drink will probably work best with a more acidity driven coffee and shorter drinks require a more richer more chocolatey coffee. There’s no one clear time for this but always look at the coffee as an ingredient in the drink and find what is most appropriate for your cocktail.

 

What is your favourite ingredient or alcohol to use when constructing coffee-based cocktails? 

Dark spirits are my go-to option for coffee cocktails, depending on the drink, usually rum or bourbon. Not only do these spirits have an element of sweetness to offset the bitterness of the coffee but I find the oak character really compliments the coffee and adds contrast to other fruity ingredients.

 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about competing in the CiGS competition?

Start simple. It’s very easy to build an idea in your head of a choice cocktail with heaps of ingredients all balancing together but I my experience it’s never that easy. Instead start with 2 or 3 ingredients that work well and taste great and build on your drink from there. Then have fun with your performance and enjoy the experience! CiGS competitions have a great atmosphere and are super fun to be a part of so don’t forget to have a good time doing it.

Danny will compete at the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championships at the World of Coffee expo between June 6-8 in Berlin, Germany. 

Danny Wilson wins 2019 Coffee in Good Spirits Championships

The competition, which took place at the Manly Spirits Co. Distillery in Sydney saw 10 of Australia’s best baristas turn their skills to cocktails as they competed for a spot at the World Championships.

In his performance, each competitor must serve two different drinks to the sensory judges; an Irish Coffee and a ‘Designer Cocktail’ or their own design. The former must adhere to a classic style of Irish Coffee, while the latter must contain coffee and a vodka made by Manly Spirits Co.

For his designer cocktail, Danny served a twist on a classic Manhattan cocktail, which he named the Cafe Manhattan. He says that inspiration for this cocktail came after he competed in the 2018 World Coffee in Good Spirits Championships in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

“I wanted to build on what I did last year and incorporate more of an understanding about classic cocktails and bartending,” he said.

“The Cafe Manhattan was intended to be a drink that brought together the world of specialty coffee and the world of classic cocktails.”

Danny used a ‘throwing’ method several times in order to mix the Cafe Manhattan ingredients and bring them to serving temperature, before serving it over ice with a vermouth toffee garnish.

For his Irish Coffee, Danny used a Trinity coffee brewer to extract his coffee into a hyper chiller, before adding it to a mixture of Manly Spirits Co vodka, home made coffee bitters, maraschino cherry syrup and rye whiskey. This was topped with a layer of thickened Riverina Fresh cream.

“It was a pleasure to return to the stage and be a part of this competition,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to working on some more drinks and presenting them in Berlin.”

 

2019 World Barista Championship finalists announced

The announcement came late afternoon in Boston, USA from the World Coffee Events barista championship stage at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Australia’s representative, Matthew Lewin unfortunately did not advance to the final round. However, Matt said that he was happy with his routine for the semi finals round.

“For the semi-finals, I really just wanted to have fun and connect with the judges,” he said.

“I went out with a clear mind, tried to have fun and made the best coffee I possibly could. You can’t really ask for much more than that.”

Matt’s performance in the first round focused on connecting consumers to specialty coffee and he used each course to take the judges from the consumer level to the ‘specialty bubble’ coffee professionals live in.

For his milk course, he used a Honduran coffee with notes of cacao and dark chocolate to give an example of easily identifiable flavours most consumers enjoy in milk coffees.

In his signature course, Matt’s beverage was divided into two parts; a small sip of espresso mixed with blackened chestnuts and roasted coconut water, which expressed the ‘dark side’ of the Honduran coffee he used.

Matt then asked the judges to add the remainder of this drink to a wine glass with espresso ice. This second part of the signature drink expressed the ‘light side’ of his coffee, with citrus notes and silky mouthfeel.

For his final course, Matt used his espresso to express what he loved about specialty coffee. He also used a model of the Santa Barbara mountain range in Honduras to show the judges how higher elevation resulted in complex qualities in his espressos.

We look forward to another day of exciting competition tomorrow and wish the finalists all the best for their routines! 

For the full list of finalists, visit worldcoffeeevents.org

World Barista Championships semi-finalists announced

The announcement came late afternoon in Boston, USA from the World Coffee Events barista championship stage at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Speaking shortly before the announcements, Matt said that he was happy to advance to the next stage and proud to represent Australia.

“It’s so amazing to be here with some of the most talented baristas in world,” he said.

“The calibre of competition is so high, everyone is really friendly and there’s just a great atmosphere.”

Matt’s performance in the first round focused on connecting consumers to specialty coffee and he used each course to take the judges from the consumer level to the ‘specialty bubble’ coffee professionals live in.

For his milk course, he used a Honduran coffee with notes of cacao and dark chocolate to give an example of easily identifiable flavours most consumers enjoy in milk coffees.

In his signature course, Matt’s beverage was divided into two parts; a small sip of espresso mixed with blackened chestnuts and roasted coconut water, which expressed the ‘dark side’ of the Honduran coffee he used.

Matt then asked the judges to add the remainder of this drink to a wine glass with espresso ice. This second part of the signature drink expressed the ‘light side’ of his coffee, with citrus notes and silky mouthfeel.

For his final course, Matt used his espresso to express what he loved about specialty coffee. He also used a model of the Santa Barbara mountain range in Honduras to show the judges how higher elevation resulted in complex qualities in his espressos.

Joining Matt in the semi-finals are the barista champions of Brazil (wild card), Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Austria, South Korea, the Philippines, Switzerland, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Greece, Russia, Costa Rica and Canada.

We look forward to another day of exciting competition tomorrow and wish Matt all the best for his next performance on the world stage!

Road to Boston – Matthew Lewin

“It has been a pretty intense few weeks,” he says. “Between practising run throughs, tasting coffees and organising equipment to take with us to the US, we’ve had our hands full.”

Matt won first place at the Australian Barista Championship several weeks ago at the national competition hosted at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo.

A Melbourne native and having worked in the specialty coffee industry for many years, there were many familiar faces at the event.

“The coffee industry in Australia is relatively small and is full of so many amazing people. Despite its size, it is incredibly innovative and the calibre of talent at these events is just outstanding,” he said.

“I’ve competed six times and each time, never quite made it to first place. I’m really glad to have finally made it there, but the reality is that it could have been anyone – there’s that much skill in this competition.”

The World Barista Championships will be held between April 11-14 in Boston, USA at the Specialty Coffee Expo. The event will also host the World Brewers Cup, public forums and much more.

Assisting Matt in his preparations for the WBC is former Australian Barista Champion, Hugh Kelly, who placed 2nd at the national competition this year.

“We’ve put in some serious effort over the past few weeks,” he said.

“We’re feeling calm, prepared and are now getting excited to pack everything together and head over to the US.”

In his preparations for the World Barista Championship,, Matt says the most vital thing is having proper support.

“These competitions are extremely difficult and involve a lot of time and effort,” he said.

“I’ve been working with some incredible companies that have been kind enough to sponsor and support me in the [WBC] campaign.

Businesses such as Cafetto, Vitasoy, Dipacci, Dolo, Espresso Company, Puqpress, Sanremo, Riverina Fresh, Project Origin and Espresso Corp have been so generous and helpful.

What these groups of people have given me is undoubtedly the biggest help in preparing for the world stage.”

The official sponsors for Team Australia for the World Barista Championship are:

Cafetto
Vitasoy
Dipacci
Dolo
Espresso Company
Puqpress
Sanremo
ONA Coffee
Riverina Fresh
Espresso Corp
Project Origin

 

Livestream videos of the World Barista Championships will be available throughout the event and shared via ONA Coffee’s social media channels.