Ben Morrow wins Australian Pura Latte Art Championship

It’s taken six years, but Ben Morrow of Sensory Lab is now the 2016 Australian Pura Latte Champion.

The St Ali Family proudly took first and second place, with Shinsaku ‘Shin’ Fukayama of Sensory Lab winning runner up, and Jibbi Little of Skittle Lane winning third place.

The competition, hosted by the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) from 4 – 5 March, attracted hundreds of supporters, tourists, and passersby at Queensbridge Square along Southbank, Melbourne. The open air event was held in collaboration with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Friday 4 March saw baristas in the Open Heat Division battle 36°C heat, but it was Hao Zhe Yoh “Howie” of Code Black Coffee and Shin who were the top two performers on the day, beating three other competitors for the finals positions.

On Saturday 5 March six baristas took to the outdoor stage for the Final round. Ben was the first competitor of the day to perform his 10-minute routine, followed by Sam Chapman of Dramanti Artisan Roasters, Andy Tseng of Pixel Coffee Brewers, Jibbi, Shin and Howie.

“I’m so shocked to have finally won the event. I don’t know what to say,” Ben said. “I saw the silver trophy in the corner of my eye and thought: ‘I bet I’m going to win second place again and I’ll be adding that trophy to the other silver ones I already have.’ Then I realised that the silver trophy wouldn’t look so bad in my collection. But this time I got the gold and I’m so happy.”

Ben has been competing in the latte art coffee championships for the past six years. He has twice placed runner up at the national level, including last year to Cafenatics barista Caleb Cha, who went on to win the World Latte Art Championship (WLAC).

“What’s different about this year is my confidence. I’m really confident with myself and my skills at the moment. In the past I’ve been stressed and burnt myself out without focusing on what was necessary to win the competition. This time I came up with good designs and balanced competition practice with work, and I think it was key, rather than focusing on winning alone,” Ben said.

For his routine, Ben produced the Hungry Hummingbird, a Beautiful Fox design, and a Busting Heart.

“I really pushed my technique and skills in the competition, but some of my patterns will need re-working for the worlds,” he said.

Caleb is the reigning WLAC, but only for a few months longer. The question now is, can Australia win the WLAC back to back?

“Well, of course,” Ben said. “Every country is going to working hard and pushing their designs to the limit, especially Korea, Japan and China. Since baristas have global access to imagery, people are learning techniques and patterns everywhere and anywhere. We’re living in a golden era of coffee in terms of techniques, technology, coffee processing, access to quality beans. It’s no surprise to anyone that our barista talent is at an all time high. We have lifted our game again after having Caleb win the worlds, and the exciting thing for Australia is that any of the finalists today could have represented the country on the world stage.”

Ben will compete in the WLAC in Shanghai, China from 29 March – 1 April.

This week Panama Dinning will host the ASCA Australian Coffee in Good Spirits Championship on 10 March.

Veneziano Coffee Roasters will host the ASCA Australian Brewers Cup from 11 – 12 March, and Australian Huhtamaki Cup Tasters Championship on 12 March.

MICE will host the ASCA Australian Barista Championship from 17 – 19 March

For more information see internationalcoffeeexpo.com

See all the action from the weekend’s competition at BeanScene’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BeanSceneCoffeeMag/

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