Junnie Phyu wins Alternative Barista Smackdown Grand Final

Alternative Barista Smackdown

Junnie Phyu of Junnie Coffee Workshop in Victoria has won The Alternative Dairy Co.’s Alternative Barista Smackdown Grand Final, held on 15 June at Veneziano Coffee Roasters’ Richmond roastery.

Adelaide competitor Rohit Pun of Swedish Tarts placed runner up and Perth competitor Kadi Jayne placed third.

“I’m so happy and relieved. I was so nervous during my routine and before the competition, but I tried to drink lots of water to calm down. I knew I would be nervous in my first round, but I grounded myself and tried not to think too much and do the best I could,” Junnie says.

Junnie had been on holiday in Asia for one month before returning five days prior to the competition to prepare her routine.

“Because I have my own workshop and am a barista trainer, I was able to practise on a [La Marzocco GS3 coffee machine] and equipment in my own backyard,” she says.

“Tsu Teoh from St Ali Coffee provided some guidance and insight to my overall routine and my husband helped me practice my performance, which I’m really grateful for.”

The competition consisted of five competitors and three rounds involving a prepared routine and pouring various coffee types such as a piccolo and milk-based coffee with a latte art pattern.

As the night’s winner, Junnie won $10,000 in prize money courtesy of The Alternative Dairy Co. and has been crowned Australia’s Alternative Barista 2023.

“I’m trying to send my daughter to childcare five days a week, so the prize money is going back to the family,” says Junnie.

“That way I can do more work and expand my business. I’m also a social content creator, so hopefully I’ll have more time to film sponsorships and product videos.”

Junnie worked with local roaster Lan Coffee Thornbury to create a custom blend consisting of 50 per cent Brazil natural and 50 per cent Colombia natural coffee. Lan Coffee Thornbury roasted her coffee at Criteria Coffee. It had tasting notes of dark chocolate, roasted hazelnut, and light toffee caramel in milk-based drinks.

“This coffee performs really well with alternative milks. I used it with The Alternative Dairy Co.’s almond milk in my first round, soy milk in my second round, and oat milk in the third latte art round,” says Junnie.

“I love The Alternative Dairy Co.’s milk because it creates really nice latte art, and tastes great too. The Alternative Dairy Co. milk doesn’t overwhelm the coffee flavour and the ingredients pair really well with espresso.”

Junnie created a cavoodle latte art pattern in her third round to commemorate her daughter’s favourite animal.

“My daughter’s first words were, ‘woof woof’ and her sweet face reminds me of a cavoodle. That’s why I chose this pattern and why it’s so special to me,” she says.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to Tipjar, a fund dedicated to helping support the future generation of hospitality workers in Australia.

Competitors were judged on flavour, latte art and workflow by Jibbi Little, The Alternative Brand Ambassador; Amy Zhang, 2022 Australian Latte Art Champion; Brydon Price, La Marzocco Sales Manager; Gabrel Tan, Veneziano Coffee Roasters Head Barista; Pete Licata, 2013 World Barista Champion; and Sam Taylor, National Manager for Coffee and Retail Training at Soul Origin.

The event included food, drink, a mini latte art smackdown, and a lucky door prize including a La Marzocco Linea Micra espresso machine, a Mahlkonig X54 grinder and a barista course from Veneziano Coffee Roasters.

Event sponsors included La Marzocco, Loveramics, Mahlkonig, Veneziano Coffee Roasters, and TipJar.

Junnie commemorated her win with a quite night in before celebrating her birthday the following day on 16 June.

“I feel like this is the best gift I could’ve asked for,” she says.

For more information, visit altdairyco.com

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