To say that stretching competitions over three weeks has been without its challenges would be a lie. To say that we’re not proud of what we’ve managed to achieve would be doing ourselves a disservice.
When the call came from World Coffee Events (WCE) to say that the World Latte Art, World Coffee In Good Spirits, and World Cup Tasters Championship were all being staged at Hotelex in March, we knew we were facing a unique test. To complete a season of regionals, host a round of nationals and help three Australian champions feel ready to board a plane to China, all within less than a month, was going to be a push.
With the ASCA Board, guilds, competitors, and volunteers positioned around the country, many of who work full time jobs on top of being part of the association, having the right people in the right place at the right time wasn’t going to be easy.
As a team, we got together and decided that we didn’t want to miss out on the big stage at Melbourne International Coffee Expo. What’s more, we knew it would be an injustice to our competitors and supporters to try to replicate that atmosphere elsewhere.
So the plan was hatched for almost a month of nationals, with the Pura Latte Art Championship kicking it off at Southbank’s Queensbridge Square. With a line-up from the four regions including Skittle Lane’s Jibbi Little from Central, Pixel Coffee Brewer’s Andy Tseng from Western, Dramanti Artisan Roasters’ Sam Chapman from Northern and, of course, Sensory Lab’s Ben Morrow from the Southern Region, the competition was always going to be fierce.
Come midday Saturday 5 March the riverside crowd put its collective hands together for Ben, as it was announced that he would soon be on a plane to China. Congratulations Ben.
With barely enough time to tell our friends at WCE that Australia had a new latte art champion, ASCA was upstairs at Panama Dining Room in Fitzroy putting our coffee/cocktail whiz kids through their paces. Just five days after the latte art cups were put away, Grinders Coffee’s Shae Macnamara took the Coffee In Good Spirits title. After his runner-up result in 2014, huge congratulations to Shae for a well deserved win in 2016.
The next day, Brewer’s Cup Open Heat competitors were lining up at Veneziano Coffee Roasters the following morning.
Brewers Cup and Huhtamaki Cup Tasters saw some of its highest participatory numbers, and representatives from some of the biggest names on Australia’s coffee landscape, at Veneziano on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 March. To all those involved, its success is a credit to your hard work – well done. ASCA is proud to be sending the man with the palate, Hyunsuk “Harry” Ko, to China to compete in the World Cup Tasters (again). We are equal parts as proud to be sending our brewing brother Slater St. Bench’s Devin Loong to Dublin for the World Brewers Cup (again).
n A few days, a Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria Australian International Coffee Awards (well done all), an Eleonora Genovese Coffee Australian Woman of the Year Award – congratulations William Angliss Institute’s Melissa Caia and Sensory Lab’s Lucy Ward, you are doing the industry proud – and we were back on stage announcing our barista champion. Hugh Kelly, no matter the result, we are certain you will do Ona Coffee and Australia proud in Dublin.
Despite this precarious solution to a logistical challenge of a global nature, I am humbled to say that ASCA has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from all levels of the industry.
The quality of the judges (evidenced by the high pass rate from the WCE Judges Certification held pre-MICE), the willingness of volunteers, the tireless work of emcees, stage managers, and organisers – congratulations, the industry noticed you putting in the hours.
On behalf of ASCA – thank you for your kind words, and to all those who put their hand up to help, please pat yourself on the back.