Hugh Kelly places third in World Barista Championship

World Barista Champion

Australia’s Hugh Kelly of Ona Coffee has placed third in the World Barista Championship finals on 26 October at Host Milano.

Hugh completed another standout rendition of his routine, which introduced the judges to the potential of the Coffea eugenoides and Coffea liberica species, the use of frozen metal rocks, compound chilling, and Eugenoides fermentation.

Australia’s Charlie Chu Kyoungha, also of Ona Coffee, won the World Cup Tasters Championship at Host Milan.

Post-performance, Hugh said he was emotional at the conclusion of his three-year journey to bring this routine to the World Coffee Championships.

“Looking back, I first scored this Eugenoides coffee 2.5 on the cupping table. I almost pushed this coffee aside, but once we got the [yeast] culture in the tank, it was a whole new thing. The compound chilling lifts the flavour and refines everything about the processing,” Hugh said.

Hugh didn’t leave Australia for any part of his routine, noting the aid of Zoom calls and video chats between producer Julian Holguin at this Finca Inmaculada Coffee Farm in Colombia, coach Pete Williams in the United Kingdom, Professor Chahan Yeretzian at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and Microbiologist Christian Hanson in Denmark. His coffee travelled more than he did, with frozen samples sent around the world from Colombia to Nicaragua and Malaysia for testing of Hugh’s unique compound chilling technique.

Ona Coffee Founder Sasa Sestic digested Hugh’s performance, noting he was “speechless” having witnessed the effort and achievement of the Australian Barista Champion.

“I’m super proud of what [Hugh’s] done. This is a really big team effort. [Hugh] Kelly loved the sweetness of this [Eugenoides] coffee but we had to push each other. At times, Hugh pushed more for this coffee than I did. And sometimes I pushed him. It was about six months in that we gave the coffee to our General Manager who asked: “Is Hugh going to use that in the competition?” He thought we were crazy. We live in our own world with this coffee for two years. But like Hugh said in his presentation, you just had to believe in it. If you have clarity in your mind and you dig deep, the potential was there. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting the best espresso in my life today [thanks to Hugh’s].”

Hugh first used Eugenoides for his Australian Barista Championship routine in 2019. Samples stayed in the freezer for 18 months until he ran out, with four kilograms harvested two months ago for his WBC routine, literally off the drying beds. “This competition coffee is super fresh,” Hugh said.

Thanks to Eugenoides’ low caffeine and chlorogenic acid, Hugh says he’s excited to see how this coffee can convert non-coffee, and even non-espresso drinkers.

“My partner Tess didn’t drink coffee at all, and she likes Eugenoides. I’ve tried it on people who have never drunk coffee before, and why they try this, they’re gobsmacked. It has the power to convert people and broaden the idea of what coffee can be,” Hugh said.

It has the power to convert people and broaden the idea of what coffee can be,” Hugh said.

To watch performances on-demand, click here.

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