BeanScene Magazine

Hugh Kelly of Ona Coffee top ranked barista after day one of WBC

From the November 2017 issue.

Australian Barista Champion Hugh Kelly of Ona Coffee has competed in the first round of the World Barista Championship in Seoul, South Korea, presenting a routine that celebrated Geisha, dry ice and a milk cloud. 

Hugh was the eighth competitor to take to the world stage on 9 November, and is currently the highest ranked barista after day one of heats, followed by Dale Harris of the United Kingdom, Miki Suzuki of Japan, Kyle Ramage of the United States, Konstantinos Iatridis of Greece and Joshua Tanu of Indonesia.

The second day of preliminary rounds takes place on 10 November, with the announcement of semi finalists to follow at about 7pm AEST tonight. 

In his performance, Hugh spoke about working in research and development, and how rethinking and approaching coffee differently has helped him to seek new ways to prepare and understand the beverage.

For his 15-minute routine, Hugh used a green-tip Geisha coffee from Jamison Savage of Finca Deborah in Volcan, Panama. In his first course, the espresso course, Hugh chilled the coffee using dry ice before ground to improve grind consistency. His cups were also chilled on dry ice before being served to the judges to allow the espresso coffee to cool down and the flavour profiles to develop.

Heads turned for his milk-based course. Using the same coffee, Hugh again used the same Geisha coffee, but increased the dose to intensify flavours in the cup.

However, it was his milk that had people talking. Rather than using a tradition espresso machine steam wand to completely heat his Riverina Fresh Gold milk, Hugh unveiled a new machine that he introduced as "the Milk Cloud”. He explained that this machine spins milk at a very high speed, removing air bubbles and creating an "incredible texture" unlike any seen before in competition.

For his signature course, Hugh used shots of coffee prepared in the two different approaches he used for his espresso and milk-based course, respectively. He added a reduction of blackcurrants to the espresso coffee he used for milk-based to further promote the dark fruit flavour profile. He changed the style he used for his espresso coffee, sifting the coffee grinds and dosing very low, and extracting a high volume in the cup to promote floral notes in the coffee. To this espresso coffee he added fairy floss, which he prepared using a 50/50 mix of sugar and freeze-dried honey.

Follow Hugh’s progress and watch other competitor's live at from November 9 to 12 at CafeShow.

For the first time, multiple competitors will take to the stage in staggered performances during Round One. Each performance will continue to be live streamed in full on the Seoul portal, with a dedicated stream per competitor station. Be sure to check the WBC schedule for detailed times.

Image: Hugh Kelly competing at the Australian Barista Championships at MICE 2017.

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