Agineszka Rojewska from Poland has been named this year’s Coffee Master at The London Coffee Festival, making her the first female to win the esteemed title in London.
“I always thought that Coffee Masters was a competition for coffee superheroes, with superhuman abilities. When I decided to compete, I didn’t even dream that I could reach a final, let alone win it. To come out on top in this international competition at one of the biggest events I’ve ever seen is a huge milestone in my coffee career,” Agineszka says.
“When I held the trophy up, I had a moment of realisation that all the hours of hard work, training and pushing yourself every day not only make you a better coffee professional, but also a better person. This year, the level of baristas was super high, and being the first female to win in London makes it even more special for me. I’m proud to ‘clear the road’ for the next one.”
Each year, The London and New York Coffee Festivals welcome baristas from around the world to compete in Coffee Masters, a global championship which sees the worlds very best battle it out for the prestigious Coffee Master title and a £5,000 prize.
This year, 24 baristas from across the world took to the stage where they were tasked with showcasing their skills in a series of head-to-head challenges. Agineszka dazzled judges over the seven key disciplines, which included The Cupping, The Brewing, The Latte Art, The Order, The Signature Drink, The Espresso Blend and The Origin, which tests the barista’s ability to identify coffee origins by taste.
Agineszka’s winning signature drink was a take on the gin and tonic, using a pour-over of her Ugandan coffee from the Mzungu Project, roasted by Gardelli Specialty Coffees.
Agineszka is the four-time Polish Latte Art Champion and has won the Polish Barista Championship three times. It’s the second time she has competed in the final of Coffee Masters, having lost to Erica Lee Vonie last year in New York. This time, she just edged out runner-up Rob Clarijs, of Dasawe Coffee Roasters, in a painfully close final.
Rob, who has also previously competed in Coffee Masters at The London and New York Coffee Festivals and whose first time it was reaching the final, made history this weekend by scoring the first ever 10/10 for his signature drink. ‘The Pink Valley’ uses the Beanspire coffee from the Pineapple Fermentation Project, fresh cascara pineapple shrub, Rosella Ginfusion, ginfused and flambéd pink lady apple and rosemary garnish.
The judging panel was made up of seven top industry experts, including industry legend, Tim Wendelboe. It was headed up by Anne Lunell, a Swedish Barista and Brewers champion, and the visionary behind Koppi.
“To become the Coffee Master, the barista needs to show a great level of consistency in all areas from cupping, to brewing, to creating their own signature drink,” says Jeffrey Young, Founder of The London Coffee Festival. “Agineszka is extremely talented and has proved her knowledge, skill and creativity this weekend, so huge congratulations.”
The London Coffee Festival welcomed over 31,000 visitors to The Old Truman Brewery this weekend, where guests drank coffee to a soundtrack of live music and DJs. Visitors enjoyed incredible latte art demonstrations and shows – including from the UK Latte Art Champion, Dhan Tamang – talks from some of the world’s leading industry figureheads at The Lab, and the Bailey’s Espresso Martini Party on Friday night, which was headlined by up-and-coming musician, Youngr.
With a brand new fourth floor added to The Festival this year, guests had more space to celebrate than ever before, and the opportunity to meet more than 400 exhibitors. There were new product launches from the likes of Sandows Cold Brew and Rancilio, and debut interactive experiences, like Latte Art Karaoke.
Half of proceeds from tickets sales are donated to Project Waterfall, a charity initiative that works to provide clean water and sanitation for the world’s coffee growing communities. The London Coffee Festival kick-starts UK Coffee Week, a nationwide charitable fundraising week.
Image credit: Gary Handley