Ona Coffee’s Isaac Kim to compete in Coffee Masters NYC

The 16 finalists to compete in Coffee Masters New York City 2016 have been revealed.

Announced on 25 July, Isaac Kim of Canberra’s Ona Coffee will represent Australia in the international competition, taking place from 16 to 18 September.

The other finalists include Sweden’s Rie Hanao of Koppi, and the Untied Kingdom’s Simon Lewthwaite of Caravan Coffee Roasters, Nick Mabey of Assembly Coffee, Yuko Inoue of Timberyard and Manuel Borsato of Climpson & Sons. Representing the United States will include Stephen Davidson of Blue Bottle Coffee, Michael Butterworth of Quills Coffee, Reef Bessette of Saint Frank Coffee, Josip Drazenovich of In Coffee Company, Jennifer Custard-Jarosz of Intelligentsia Coffee, Erika Lee Nonie of Variety Coffee Roasters, Kristyn Wade of Corvus Coffee, Dylan Siemens of Onyx Coffee Lab, Penelope Hearne of Toby’s Estate and Omar Maagaard Hossain of Brownsville Roasters.

“I looked at my emails 5am Saturday morning and saw I had been successful. I was half asleep, wondering if I was dreaming or not. It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest,” says Isaac, Espresso Bar 2IC at The Cupping Room. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet that I’ll be going to NY to compete.”

Isaac competed in the 2016 Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Central Regional Barista Championship (New South Wales /Australian Capital Territory) where he made it through to the heats and then into the semi finals of the National Championships at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in March.

Upon hearing that the 2017 ASCA equivalent had been moved back to later in the year, Isaac says applying for Coffee Masters NYC was the perfect timing.

“I saw how well Ben Morrow (of Sensory Lab) had done at this competition in the last few years, and it’s been on my radar to try as well, so I decided to give it a go and apply,” Isaac says.

In the space of one evening, Isaac filmed his signature drink application video – only eight or so takes later.

His signature drink is called the Collins No. 5. The name is derived from the Collins style of drink served in a tall glass and topped with sparkling water, and from the “classy prestige” associated with Chanel No. 5 perfume.

To bring his drink to life, Isaac used ingredients including homemade persimmon shrub, peach and pear schnapps from wildbrumby distillery, St Germain elderflower liqueur, Archie Rose white rye spirit, homemade orange and coffee bitters, and sparkling mineral water. To see Isaaca’s siganture drink video and recipe click here.

Isaac sourced most of his ingredients locally in an attempt to showcase some of Australia’s amazing new distilleries and their products, including the wildbrumby distillery in Jindabyne, and Archie Rose in Sydney.

The espresso he used in this signature drink was a Colombian Lot Tambo washed Sudan Rume espresso.

“I started with the coffee and built the drink around that. It’s the same coffee Natalia Piotrowska, Irish Barista Competitor used at this year’s World Barista Championship (WBC). Ona Coffee roasted Natalia’s coffee and we had a small amount left over, which I got to use for this drink,” Isaac says. “I thought about what I liked the most about this espresso, and then found things that complemented it. It was a bit of a process to get right. I spent a couple of weeks trying different recipes and different ratios to get the balance spot on.”

The result, Isaac says, is a really “vibrant, fresh, and refreshing drink”.

“Persimmons have such a nice malic acidity and bitterness to it. I thought about what fruits were seasonal in New York at autumn, the time of the year the competition is on, and thought the persimmon would be a great fruit to enjoy, it’s one of my favourites,” he says.

Unlike competitors like the WBC, Isaac says what appealed to him about Coffee Masters NYC was the chance to compare his own skill set.

“It’s going to be a test of my own personal skills. The WBC is about the coffee itself and how it tastes, but this competition is about the mastery of coffee. The format is very varied and a true reflection of a barista’s work environment. It’s also one I think I can have a lot of fun with,” Isaac says.

The knockout format of Coffee Masters sees baristas from across the globe go head-to-head to demonstrate their skills in Cupping, Brewing, Latte Art, The Order Challenge, The Signature Drink and, in the event they make it through to the semi-finals, The Espresso Blend round. The six past-faced challenges are designed to emulate the busy working environment of a professional barista. The winner will receive the title of Coffee Master NYC and take home £5000.

Critiquing the selected baristas on their skill, technique, timing, presentation, and creativity in the cup will be an impressive line-up of international judges.

With just two months to go until Isaac competes in Coffee Masters NYC in attempt to retain Australia’s title (the inaugural Coffee Masters NYC was held in 2015 and won by Australia’s Ben Morrow), he says he’s ready to start planning and preparing for the event.

“I have big shoes to fill, but I can only do my best,” he says. “It will be my first trip to NY so I can’t wait. Hopefully I’ll get a couple of free days either side of the event to be a tourist and explore the city.”

Coffee Masters NYC will return to The New York Coffee Festival at the 69th Regiment Armory, 68 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, US.

The New York Coffee Festival is New York’s flagship coffee event, celebrating the city’s burgeoning specialty coffee scene. Now in its second year, the festival will feature live experiences from more than 70 coffee, food and equipment suppliers. Visitors will enjoy endless free coffee tastings, interactive workshops, demonstrations from world-class baristas, delicious street food, intoxicating coffee cocktails, live music, art, and much more.

For more information visit www.newyorkcoffeefestival.com/Home

To purchase a ticket to the event click here

Watch the contender’s Signature Drink videos by clicking here

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