Danny Wilson of Ona Coffee is the 2018 Australian Coffee in Good Spirits Champion.
Jay Lee and Chanho Hong, both of Normcore Coffee Roasters, placed second and third respectively.
“It’s super exciting to win,” Danny says, Senior Roaster at Ona Coffee. “I had the chance to go to Seoul, South Korea with Hugh Kelly assist in his WBC preparation last year, which was pretty inspiring, and now I get to represent Australia on the world stage. It’s amazing.”
Danny has competed in the barista competitions for the past five years and placed sixth in the Australian Barista Championship finals in 2017.
He attempted the Australian Coffee in Good Spirits Championship (CIGS) four years ago, and was thrilled to hear of its return.
“There were some really experienced competitors at this year’s event. The quality of finalists was very high. I think there’s a lot of excitement around the future of this competition,” Danny says. “Everyone had a good time, I certainly did, and the event ran so well. Thank you to everyone who helped make it a success on the day.”
Danny’s signature drink was inspired by the flavour of his coffee, a natural processed lempira from Finca La Leona in Honduras.
“It has a great tropical acidity and intense, almost sugary body,” he says. “This is the second year Ona has bought in the coffee and it’s pretty unique for a coffee out of Honduras. I wanted to put my own twist on this coffee and highlight my own characteristics.”
To do this, Danny combined his coffee with a fermented pineapple syrup, sweet Pedro ximenez sherry, Ron Zacapa rum, lime and soda. He served the drink cold and asked the judges to imagine themselves drinking it on a beach in summer.
“Part of my routine was getting the judges in the right mind space. Thankfully it was a warm day in Sydney but when I was preparing it back in Canberra at minus 7 degrees it seemed farfetched so I had to create the atmosphere,” Danny says.
Danny was also fortunate to have the reigning CIGS World Champion, Martin Hudak of Slovakia on his judging panel.
“It was really good having him there. He gave me good insight to the world stage,” Danny says.
The World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship will take place from 7 to 9 November in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
With just four weeks to prepare for the national CIGS title – practicing in the morning while he waited for his roaster to warm up, and at night, Danny says he’s looking forward to improving his drink and going into more depth.
“I really enjoyed my competition preparation. I had a better idea of what I wanted to do in terms of putting my drinks together and how I could design my signature drink thanks to my barista competition experience, but now I can really play with the scope of my ingredients,” he says.
Danny will take a break from competing in the Central Regional Barista Competition this year, instead looking to compete in the ASCA Australian Roasting Championship.
For now however, Danny says he was satisfied with his celebrations of burgers, beers and some much needed sleep after a busy preparation month, and is excited for what lies ahead.
“I’m just so excited and thrilled to be representing Australia,” he says.