Stuart Hargie and Leo Li claim NZ Championship titles

New Zealand Cup Tasters Championship

The New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association (NZSCA) has crowded Stuart Hargie and Leo Li National Champions for 2018.

Stuart Hargie of Jacobs Douwe Egberts won the 2018 New Zealand Cup Tasters Championship in front of a packed crowd at L’affare Melrose in Auckland on 27 July.

A record 34 competitors slurped their way through multiple triangulations to uncover New Zealand’s most accurate and expeditious coffee cupper.

The four finalists included two last-minute entrants. Woo Hyung Lee of Camper Coffee and a two-time New Zealand AeroPress Champion placed fourth, May Chan of Story Coffee placed third, Takahito Koyanagi of Toasted Espresso who won the title in 2016 was second place, and Stuart, who last held the title in 2011, was the only finalist to achieve a perfect 8/8 score in four minutes and 11 seconds. 

Photo credit Yongzhi Zhang

Stuart only decided the enter the competition that day. 

“It’s an honour to be competing with such talented people. There were such high scores this year,’ Stuart told the NZSCA post-win.

Photo credit: Claire Massong

In the Meadow Fresh New Zealand Latte Art Championship, it was Leo Li of Atomic Coffee Roasters in Kingsland who reigned supreme for a second year running.  

A festival-like atmosphere filled Kōkako Organic Coffee Roastery from 28 to 29 July where 17 competitors vied for the prestigious title.

Photo credit: Claire Massong

Isabella Brown of The Block Cafe in Blockhouse Bay placed third, Charanjeet Singh Saini of Global Byte Cafe in Invercargill and first-time competitor was runner-up, and reigning champion Leo held on tight to secure a back-to-back win and a trip to Brazil to represent New Zealand once again in the World Latte Art Championship.

The 17 competitors competed over two rounds. The open (preliminary) round allowed competitors a total of eight minutes to pour two matching free pour lattes and two identical designer pattern lattes.

In the final round, competitors had 10 minutes to pour two separate sets of matching free pour lattes and one set matching designer pattern latte.

The New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association thanks its sponsors, host venues, volunteers, judges and spectators for supporting this important industry event. 

Stuart and Leo will compete in the World Cup Taster’s and World Latte Art Championships respectively from 7 to 9 November in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. 

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