Jade Jennings wins Southern Region Barista competition

Veneziano Coffee Roasters’ Jade Jennings has taken home the gold trophy in the Southern Region Coffee Championship Barista competition, held at Proud Mary Coffee Roasters on 30 – 31 January.

Jade placed ahead of Axil Coffee Roasters’ Anthony Douglas in second place and Matt Lewin, also at Axil, in third.

Jade used Rwandan Sumbili from BUF café, processed at the Nyarusiza washing station. The founder, Epiphanie Mukashyaka was the first women to privately own a washing station in Rwanda. Jade connected with Epiphanie, through Fleur Studd of Melbourne Coffee Merchants.

“I knew I wanted to work with a female producer and they suggested I try Rwanda,” said Jade. “Epiphanie lost her husband and her son in Rwanda’s genocide and went on to work with USAID projects such as Partnerships for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL) and Sustaining Partnerships to Enhance Rural Enterprise (SPREAD) to elevate coffee practices in the region and therefore greatly improve their lives.”

Jade said the Sumbili’s coffee is unique in that theirs are the only beans not pooled with the other farmers at the washing station, which for her offered traceability and better quality assurance.

“I was surprised after tasting it, as Rwandan coffees don’t always get a great rap,” she said. “We were getting notes of apricots, brown sugar and raspberry acidity – as good as top coffees I’d cupped from Africa.”

During her routine Jade spoke about how these flavours had developed during the post harvest processing. She focused on those three notes in her signature drink routine.

“I made a raspberry mist using freeze dried raspberry powder and hot water in an atomiser,” said Jade. “I sprayed the bottom of the glasses with the mist to heighten the raspberry acidity.”

Jade soaked apricots in brown sugar and allowed this to filter overnight.  To give her drink a viscous mouthfeel, she added agar-agar to the nectar, which had to be blended and then heated to above 95°C to activate. Jade layered the glass with the apricot foam using a cream syphon and then poured her espresso on top.

“The intended outcome is a signature drink with a heightened raspberry acidity and a balanced sweetness,” says Jade.

The Pura Milk Latte Art Championship winner was a familiar face, with Sensory Lab’s Ben Morrow taking home top spot. The #latteartcowboy maintained his usual flair to place ahead of colleague Shinsaku Fukayama in second, and Code Black Coffee’s Hao Zhe Yoh who came in third.

Dukes Coffee Roasters’ Charles Skadiang maintained the day’s suspense with a disappearing act prior to the announcement of the Brewer’s Cup winners. A phone call from a quick thinking teammate ensured he made it in time to be announced in top spot. First Crop Coffee’s Celina Lazarus received the silver medal, while Code Black Coffee’s Archie Chiu received the bronze.

Operator 25’s Mikael Jasin is this year’s Coffee In Good Spirit Championship winner, followed closely by Ben Morrow in second and FTA Specialty Coffee’s David Boudrie who placed third.

In the final and most heavily attended event, the Huhtamaki Cup Tasters Competition, Top Paddock’s Tom Bomford prevailed over a record 22 other hopefuls. Veneziano Coffee Roasters’ Jason Millar came in second and Sensory Lab/Three Bags Full’s Cha Ttrin came in third.

Jade, Ben, Charles, Mikael and Tom will all compete in the ASCA Australian National Coffee Championships in various locations around Melbourne in March.

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