Queensland barista Justin Porrett of Gloria Jean’s Coffees has won the Australian and International Retail Food Group (RFG) Barista Championship.
From the 25 – 27 September some of the most talented RFG baristas from across the country – and world – converged on the Gold Coast for an epic showdown of barista and latte art talent at the RFG Franchise Expo.
On 26 September Justin beat seven other baristas to win the RFG Australian Barista title, with fellow Gloria Jean’s baristas Safi Azizi and Jacob Klaus winning second and third place respectively.
The celebrations were short lived as Justin had just hours to prepare his routine again to compete in the RFG International Barista Championship.
Taking full advantage of competing on home turf, Justin from Gloria Jean’s Coffees in Lismore and Ballina, Queensland, returned the following day to take out the title of RFG International Barista Champion.
Justin beat regional finalists including Adolph Lin of China in second place, Gary Macilwee of New Zealand in third place, and David Soto of the United States in fourth place.
“I really can’t believe it. The Gloria Jean’s brand has always had good standards of coffee production, it’s what we’re trained to do as baristas every day – and this win is proof that our training, education and dedication to our craft is top-notch,” Justin said. “I love making coffee and pushing myself to be as good as I can possibly be. I wanted to enter this event to test if my skills were on the same level as others, and to be part of a team environment, and it’s been such a great experience.”
This was Justin’s second time competing in a competition format. In between studying a Bachelor of Business at university, Justin, a barista of seven years, trained between 60 to 70 hours a week in preparation of the event.
In his routine, Justin used the Gloria Jean’s Sereno Blend, and with a little inspiration and assistance from his mother, developed a signature drink consisting of a ginger, mint, cucumber, soda water, ice and lime espresso-based signature beverage.
“I learnt a lot from yesterday’s performance in the national final. I was confident in keeping my routine the same, but tweaked the signature drink slightly. Initially I never told the judges how much lime to add to the drink, today I was specific and asked them to add just four drops,” he said. “I think my win always involves a lot of luck, but I also watched [2015 World Barista Champion] Sasa Sestic’s winning routine this morning for inspiration. Maybe that helped too.”
Each competitor had to produce four espressos, four milk-based beverage and four signature drinks for sensory and technical judges. They were judged on taste, technique and presentation. Technical Judge Peita Laws of RFG said Justin’s technical skills got him across the line.
“Justin was technically flawless. His workflow and station management created a great consistency in his espresso forming the perfect base for each drink,” she said. “His perfection in his technical skills shone through in the cup, as did his true passion for coffee and coffee service.”
The competition showcased RFG Group’s love for coffee, which saw baristas compete from coffee retail brands including Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Michel’s Patisserie, Donut King, and Esquires.
Justin won a total of $6000 in prize money, winning $3000 for each of his title wins over the past two days as RFG Australian Barista Champion and RFG International Barista Champion.
In the RFG Australian Latte Art Championship, it was another clean sweep for Gloria Jean’s Coffees.
Brooke Kilpatrick won first place, followed by Steven Li in second place and Deepti Chowdhary in third place.
For her routine Brooke produce a tulip design for her macchiatos, a swan for her free pour, and a hanging heart for her designer lattes.
“I’m beyond happy. I never believed I could win, this feeling is just amazing,” Brooke said. “I wanted to produce patterns that I loved but also felt confident to do within the time frame. I put in at least two months of training after work, I even flew to Sydney for further development thanks to the Gloria Jean’s team, and it’s all paid off.”
The event was proudly sponsored by Pauls Professional Milk.
Pauls was also the title sponsor of the Latte Art Smackdown held during the expo. Sixteen baristas went head-to-head in a battle of the best and most creative patterns using Di Bella Coffee. There could only be one winner, and on this occasion it was Adrian Sin Leung of Simple Coffee House who took out the event.