The search for the beans started months ago, when the green bean buying team began sourcing unique coffees to try and match the profile and quality of an exceptional and hopefully award winning cup. Rai’s journey to the ASCA coffee championships has a back-story which began years ago, and this story continues and grows with every cup he makes, every customer he serves and every shot he pulls.
Since the search began, there have been many cupping sessions held at Di Bella Coffee’s headquarters in Brisbane, tasting and sampling and getting as many taste buds as possible from across the company on board, to help narrow down the selection. And yes, some caffeinated nights.
The beans came from all over the world - Rwanda, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Ethiopia -before Rai and the team arrived at two unique and special coffees. We can’t tell you what they are right now (no spoiler alerts here), but they are distinct and interesting, lovingly grown, handpicked and processed before their journey to our roasting warehouse. After securing supplies of these coffees, Rai set to work on bringing his ASCA presentation to life.
The ASCA competition is the leading barista competition in Australia. It is looking at technical skills, presentation style, practical methodology and of course flavour. The judging is highly critical and there is minimal room for error. They have specific requirements for the equipment used by the competitors – the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle coffee machine, which is renowned for its temperature stability, elegant profile and quality coffee extraction, and a choice of two Mahlkonig grinders, the K30 or the EK43. Even the benches on which the equipment sits must be of certain dimensions. These details level the playing field, so that the judges can focus on the skill and craft of the barista before them.
During the competition, the competitors often tell the story of the coffee from the source to the cup, and the people behind the scenes, and Rai has told that story at ASCA before. This time however, he wanted to tell a more front end story focused on everyday coffee drinkers and how to inspire their own journey with the golden bean. Rai has spent countless hours perfecting his technique in producing both espresso and milk based coffees. He has sourced beautiful handmade artisan crockery for his presentation, on a mission to bring his story to life.
The Queensland heat of the ASCA competition takes place over the weekend of 23-24 September. Rai is competing in the barista category, but there are 3 other divisions – latte art, brewers and cup tasters. Rai’s presentation is slotted in for 9.30am on the Saturday if you can make it along in person.
The winner of Queensland goes onto the national finals held at MICE in March 2018 and the winner from that goes on to the world championships, held next June in Amsterdam.
Best of luck Rai!