Via Cuth Bland.
The Durban Regional Baristas Champs was a hit! And you can only ever realise these things in retrospect. The night before the competition was to start there was rain dripping on the machines, water leaking from every possible place, Alessandro Morrico (of Morrico Imports, who sponsor all the Nuovo Simonelli Espresso machines) ready to go to battle for his equipment, volunteers looking a little more than shell-shocked, sensory judges getting happily spaced on the calibration coffee and technical judges looking a bit seasick as they dipped and dived to check that no-one was skew tamping! In short, mild chaos. But as the curtain raised on a beautiful Durban day on Friday it seemed to have all come together – baristas were in the back panicking, judges were out front looking officious and purposeful and Ben Carlson, official DRBC MC, was drawing in the crowds with his American twang. All was well with the world.
The competition was held at the Fountain Court in the Pavilion and what a great venue – so often you would look up and see fascinated faces staring down three stories to see what all the noise was about and, even better, drawn in by the amazing aromas. With 32 baristas competing this was the biggest regional competition we have ever had and without sacrificing quality to quantity we once again had baristas pushing the standard upwards. A single origin espresso that the judges were encouraged to finish completely. A signature drink based on cucumber. And, what must be a first internationally surely?!, a cappuccino made from a single origin Decaf espresso … yes, decaffeinated coffee… All the baristas put on stellar performances and there would have been no event without them – so thank you to everyone who took their courage in their hands and decided this would be a fun thing to do on the weekend.
We had a few celebrity appearances – Ishan Natalie, current National Champion, and Joanne Berry, current Cape Town Champion, were in attendance and it was a pleasure to have them. We all made new friends and spent time with old. The really great thing about the Competition is that despite all the tension and adrenaline and free-flowing caffeine there always seems to be time to connect with people – and there is no better place or collection of people than the barista community in Durban. Thanks to all who gave of their time to help set-up, break-down, judge and come and support – it was a blast!
Congratulations, well-deserved, to the top-six :
Winner : Travis Scott – Woolworths Café
First runner-up : Pauline Lechinsky – Ciro Beverage Solutions
Third : Craig Charity – Go Coffee Mobile
Fourth : Samantha Moodley – Woolworths Café
Fifth : Dirk Maritz – Colombo Fine Beverage Company
Sixth : Azhar Khan – Continental Butcher Baker Deli
See you at Nationals – bring your game face!
Photographs by Kristy Carlson.