After earning her first Australian Latte Art Championship win in February, Jibbi Little of Jibbijug is ready to take her competition performance to the next level.
She will make her way to Germany in June for the World Latte Art Championship (WLAC), taking place at World of Coffee in Berlin.
“I have failed many times, but improved after each,” Jibbi says. “At the end of the day, you need to be able to make yourself stronger. I feel I’ve done that.”
Part of Jibbi’s training has made her realise where she needs to hold back as well as push forward.
“[One of my patterns] has gone through so many changes in the last two months. It was actually more complicated than it is now,” Jibbi says. “I’ve had to cut it down, make it cleaner, and easier to replicate.”
After deciding on her patterns early on, Jibbi has focused on refining her technique and timing for the final round. However, as she learned during an intensive training session at Veneziano Coffee Richmond on 22 May, you need to nail the first two rounds to get there.
“I’ve only focused on my final round designs, and my macchiato pattern [for the semi-final round] needs work,” she says. “I will definitely give that pattern more attention, because without it, I won’t make it to the last round.”
During the training session, Jibbi ran through her routine with three accredited WLAC judges – Lance Brown and Nick Percy of the Nomad Coffee Group, and Axil Coffee Roasters’ Mook Lieng – and 2018 Australian Latte Art Champion Shinsaku ‘Shin’ Fukayama of St Ali.
Shin tells BeanScene he is confident in Jibbi’s abilities, but she will need to remain composed on the world stage.
“Things can go wrong that you don’t expect. When I competed last year, in the semi-finals, I checked the grinder and it was not working,” he says. “When things like that happen, you have to stay calm. It was on the organisers to fix the grinder, but things like that can throw you off. Jibbi will need to stay calm if something like that happens.”
The prelimary round of the WLAC consists of an Art Bar component, where the barista has five minutes to set up and create a pattern using one additional colour. The training session began with two run-throughs of Jibbi’s Art Bar round. After the first presentation, Lance was concerned with Jibbi’s stage presence and ability to create the pattern in a limited amount of time.
On the second run-through, Lance instructed her to speak slower and clearly. To test her adaptability, Nick took away Jibbi’s milk as she was about to begin pouring. However, Jibbi had already prepared a second jug in case something went wrong with the first.
“She did a lot better on the second run-through,” Lance says “On the world stage, she will be communicating with people from many different countries, half of whom don’t speak English as a first language. She needs to be clear in what she’s saying.”
Nick was also impressed with her Art Bar presentation.
“Her design makes good use of colour, which doesn’t dominate the pattern,” he says. “And she had a backup plan organised in case things go wrong. She just needs to make sure she has time for that second pour.”
Following her Art Bar run-through, Jibbi performed her semi-final set for the judges. The WLAC semi-final round consists of three sets of two patterns – two free pours, two designer and two machiatos. While there was some criticism of an under-practiced macchiato deign, the judges agreed her free pours were strong and creative.
“She’s telling the story of what she’s pouring and executing these patterns really well,” Mook says. “She just needs to work on her communication and making sure the sets of patterns match.”
Jibbi then performed her final routine, which included the same free pours, with a designer latte art pattern replacing the macchiato. Nick says Jibbi has definitely presented WLAC worthy patterns.
“I’ve been judging Jibbi in Australian comps for about five years now, and these patterns, they’re next level,” he says.
“If she can put up patterns like she did today, she should make the finals. It just depends on the execution and if she can control her nerves.”
As well as critiquing her patterns and performance, the judges provided Jibbi with insight into the smaller elements that contribute to her overall score.
“Professional performance is the easiest way to earn points,” Lance says. “If you can nail eye contact, performance attire, explanations, images, all of these little things, that’s 24 points. Those are the easiest points on the table to earn.”
The judges also suggested Jibbi provide her latte art reference pictures in separate frames instead of as one sheet. This is so the judges can analyse each set of patterns one at a time without distractions. They also reminded her to keep the naming of her patterns consistent.
Jibbi says the training session has helped prepare her for the WLAC and made her aware of key points to focus on.
“At the moment, I’m not ready yet for WLAC. There are a few problems I need to fix up. I have to practice hard,” Jibbi says. “I’ve been making coffee for more than 10 years. And have combined my knowledge and different techniques in these patterns.
“Ultimately, I just have to maintain control. If I win, it means I’ve overcome my fear.”