For the second consecutive year, Angus Mackie has claimed the title of Central Region Barista Champion. Two-time Australian Barista Champion Hugh Kelly claimed second place, and Joao Carlos Henriques claimed third place after several years away from competition.

On stage, Angus used a washed SL34/SL28 coffee from the Nyeri region of Kenya. His performance focused on the ‘tasting system’ of bodies and how flavour is generated – for his espresso, he used custom built temperature gauges to guide the judges through their taste experience. 

For the milk course, Angus used the steamless milk machine, ‘The Milk Cloud’ with an Ethiopian heirloom varietal. For his signature beverage, Angus calibrated the judges’ palates by instructing them to smell melted chocolate before tasting his beverage. He also asked the judges to apply nasal strips to the bridges of their noses, to open their air passages and allow for a better aroma experience.

“There’s so much that happens in the experience of drinking coffee, so many variables – I call them ‘post-extraction’ variables,” Angus said.

“By guiding the judges through this and thinking about our tasting system, we can better understand the flavours that we have in the cup and create a better taste experience.”

In second place was seasoned competitor and 2017 World Barista Championship finalist, Hugh Kelly.

In his performance, Hugh used a low-altitude caturra varietal from Dipilto, Nicaragua that had been processed using a temperature-controlled whole cherry carbonic maceration. 

“I wanted to show the judges that these low-altitude coffees have great potential,” Hugh said. 

“The building of quality is based on a whole system. It’s a combination of many different variables that create a great coffee experience.”

For his signature course, Hugh combined espresso shots with coconut oil, macerated coco flesh and panela sugar using ultrasonic vibration. This fused the molecules from the oil together with his espresso and the other ingredients. 

In his final course, Hugh used the aid of music to create a complete sensory experience for the judges. After collaborating with a musical composer,  Hugh created a customised video with accompanying music that guided the sensory judges through the flavour development in their espressos.

In third place was Joao Carlos Henriquez, who returned to the competition scene after a break for several years.

Joao was inspired was a recent origin trip to El Salvador, where he collaborated with legendary producer Gilberto Barahona of Los Pirineos in processing methods to create unique beverages in his three courses.

He was also inspired by a recent visit to the Riverina Fresh dairy, during which farmers and scientists explained the process behind creating milk that is suited to coffee.

Congratulations to everyone who competed, and thank you to the volunteers and organisers from the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) who make these events possible.

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