Jae Kim wins Toby’s Estate Swirl Club Melbourne heat

Toby’s Estate Swirl Club

Independent barista Jae Kim has won Toby’s Estate’s Swirl Club Melbourne heat, which took place on 28 September at the Slayer Showroom.

“I feel great,” says Jae. “I’m so excited and honoured to have won this competition.”

Among the 32 competitors, Zhao-Ting (Tim) Wu of Cote Terra placed second and Leo Huang of Niccolo Coffee placed third.

Jae had originally planned to travel to Korea for a holiday before a last-minute delay, and entered the competition a week before it took place, to “have some fun”.

“I didn’t even read the rules of the competition until [the day beforehand],” he says. “It ended up being a blessing in disguise, because I didn’t give me much time to overthink and let my nerves get the best of me.”

Jae says he approached each of the six unique rounds of Swirl Club by taking a deep breath and remaining calm.

“I just focused on what I needed to do at each round. I tried not to think about it too hard,” he says.

Out of the six rounds, Jae believes he performed best in the ‘Froth Monster’ stage, in which baristas had to pour six piccolos using one large jug and fill the piccolo cups up to the prescribed line.

“I used to compete in latte art competitions, so I knew how to split the milk between two jugs and pour the precise amount required,” says Jae.

The round Jae struggled with the most was the final cup tasting round called ‘Triangulation of Doom’. The final two contestants had to taste the odd one out of three coffees.

“I was most nervous during the last round. I just closed my eyes and shut out the noise, focusing on the taste profiles of each espresso,” he says.

Jae’s first-place prize includes $3000 cash, and prizes from event sponsors. He plans on using this prize money during his rescheduled trip to Korea.

“I’m excited to visit Korea in two weeks and spend this money with my family. I want to buy some more toys for my baby,” he says. “It’s my way of saying ‘thank you’ to my wife for always supporting me and taking care of our baby while I’m competing in competitions like this.”

Judges on the night included Linda Maksic, Nich Rae, and John Zois of Toby’s Estate.

According to Toby’s Estate, the Swirl Club Melbourne heat had 120 attendees and competitors in attendance.

The finale will take place on 16 November at Toby’s Estate’s Alexandria Warehouse in New South Wales. Tickets will go on sale on 26 October.

Toby’s Estate thanks sponsors Slayer Espresso, Riverina Fresh, ACME, and BWT.

For more information, click here.

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