Every year the Speciality Coffee Association has a series of global coffee competitions, created to showcase the peak of quality and innovation in coffee. More than 60 countries have their best baristas battle it out to be crowned the National Champion who then represents their country on the world stage. The two most popular events are the UK Barista Championship and the UK Brewers Cup Championship. The Barista Championship has each competitor combine their skill and knowledge to make 4 espressos, 4 espresso and milk drinks and 4 espresso-based signature drinks. Points are being awarded to those that create the best tasting coffees of the day while giving the best customer experience. The Brewers Cup Championship is focused on one coffee brewed three times for three judges as the competitor talks about coffee and what makes their coffee and technique unique.
This year, our Wholesale Manager Paul Ross achieved the top-spot as the UK Barista Champion. The win came after a series of regional heats where he had to beat over 50 competitors from around the country. Paul was passed the mantle of champion from our Head of Coffee Joshua Tarlo, who achieved the title in 2018. This year Joshua achieved 2nd place in the Competition which made us the home of the two best baristas in the UK. Dawid who is brewing behind our Richmond bar achieved an amazing 3rd place in the UK Brewers Cup.
UK Barista Competition Winner Paul Ross
Paul has been competing for 5 years now. Speaking to him he said:
“Each year’s Competition pushed me to learn more about coffee than I ever thought possible. I’ve been very fortunate with the opportunities this Competition has given me and I’m so happy to represent the UK and Kiss the Hippo on the world stage.”
His routine was all about the international coffee community and how we can work together to create a global language for describing the flavour experience of coffee. Pulling from friends made over the years competing and coaching, he sent small samples of coffee out to baristas all around the world to be tasted and compared tasting notes. This collaboration from the world of coffee was the heart of what drove him to reach the top-spot.
Paul used a coffee he has been familiar with for years and which served as his coffee two years ago when he placed 3rd. The coffee is from the Panamanian farm Auromar and is a natural Gesha.
UK Barista Competition Runner Up Joshua Tarlo
This year marks the second UK Barista Competition Joshua has competed in, but he is a veteran of podium results from 8 other competitions over the years. Joshua was the 2018 champion and asking him about this years’ experience he said:
“It was an incredibly talented field of baristas this year, pushing us all to go deeper to create something new and innovative to showcase to the judges. I was really happy to share my new technique in coffee roasting which finally brings the experience of tasting newly picked coffee for people in the UK.”
Joshua passed the title of champion to his teammate Paul after weeks of acting as each other’s coaches. The coffee that Joshua used was a Colombian Gesha from Mauricio Shattah that was processed in the innovative Anaerobic Fermentation.
UK Coffee Brewers Cup Dawid Stelmach
Dawid had his first year competing in the Competitions and started strong with his podium spot. He reflected on how it was a challenge learning the complex rules and format of the Championship, so that he could showcase his coffee in the best way. Asking about his advice to people like himself wanting to get involved in the Competition, he said:
“For the first time, it’s worth just going for it and learning the competition and meeting everyone. Backstage people were so nice and helpful it really felt like a community atmosphere. I felt really lucky to be able to share such a special coffee.”
Dawid used the same coffee as Paul, the Panamanian Auromar natural Gesha and will be brewing frequently behind our bar in Richmond.
Kiss the Hippo Team