It was first time lucky for Heath Dalziel, owner of Third Time Lucky café in Adelaide, to take out the 2018 ASCA Australian Brewers Cup.
Heath was seventh seeded going into the national competition, as the winner of the Western Region Brewers Cup that took place in Adelaide last year. This is impressive success for someone who was coaxed into competing by his supplier, Ona Coffee, two months before the regional event.
“I had a few conversations with Sasa [Sestic, former World Barista Champion] when we starting using Ona Coffee. We spoke about the importance of getting out of our comfort zones,” Heath tells BeanScene. “When he came to visit, he asked very directly: ‘So, who’s going to compete?’ Since my business partner is a chef, it had to be me.”
From this initial coaxing, Heath took his competition preparation quite seriously. He travelled a few times to Canberra to train with the crew at Ona Coffee, with former Australian Brewers Cup champion Devin Loong as a coach.
What perhaps put him truly ahead of his peers on competition day was not only great coffee, but an original approach with his coloured-inspired routine. When he’s not preparing coffee, Heath works as a projectionist for music events, projecting coloured water through a classic overhead projector. Through the process of synaesthesia – where one sense is interpreted through another – the audience believes that the music is matching the flow of the colours. When he started working on his routine, Heath was using an Ethiopian coffee at his café called Sunset. In picturing the colours of the sunset, he prepared the coffee and gave his clients colouring-in pencils to colour in their tastes. He found the colours allowed his clients the ability to express some of the nuances of the tastes, even if they didn’t have the words.
When he got a hold of his competition coffee, a Finca Deborah layered natural Geisha, he applied this use of colours as descriptors in developing his tasting notes. Heath says he was blown away by how the routine came together.
“It was a magical experience,” he says. “Yanina [Ferreyra] from Project Origin laid this coffee down for me on a cupping table and it was a such complete experience, with big fruits, super high quality acidity, juicy body and laser clean. When it came time for the competition, it was an obvious choice.”
In the Open Service round, Heath prepared the coffee via pour over using a ceramic V60 to push the fruit notes and acidity. He used a brew ratio of 1:15, using 20 grams of coarsely ground coffee to 300 grams of water. His water for open service was 40 parts per million (ppm) magnesium chloride, 10ppm calcium chloride, and 10ppm potassium bicarbonate. For his pour, Heath used a five-pulse method, pouring 50 grams of water on the first pour, 70 grams on the next, and 60 grams of water on the last three pours. Overall, he aimed for a brew time of 2:40 to 2:50 minutes.
For the compulsory round, Heath used the Aeropress to control the variables of the mystery coffee.
Since winning the Australian Brewers Cup, Heath travelled to Panama, visiting coffee farms and meeting producers, including Jamison Savage, the producer of his national-winning coffee.
“It was really amazing to be in Panama, seeing the origin of so many wonderful coffees and to be at the farm with Jamison and ask him questions about farming and processing,” he says. “To see and touch the trees and cherries and to smell the flowers was just unbelievable. It really is such a beautiful place.
“My favourite part of the whole trip was probably the smell of the geishas in bloom. The aroma that comes from those flowers is such incredible, something I will never forget.”
He will represent Australia at the World Brewers Cup in Dubai in October 2018 at GulfHost, but encourages anyone looking to compete in the regional brewers cup competition this year, to just give it a go.
“Work hard and worst case scenario, you come away with the experience of learning more about brewing. Who knows, you might just win,” he says.