PERTH, Australia – This weekend, the 2020 Western Regional Barista Championships organised by the Australian Specialty Coffee Association delivered a second barista crown for Arlo by Mo’s Ziggy Varamulia. Located in Optus Stadium’s stunning River View room, in Perth, the individual events were fiercely fought battles of creativity, skill and ingenuity.
The competition is broken into four different categories: Barista, Latte Art, Brewers and Cup Tasting with the Barista category being the premiere event. The Barista category requires the competitors to present a collection of four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks to a panel of four sensory judges.
Scores are based on a number of criteria including balance of acidity, bitterness and sweetness, accuracy of flavour descriptions, foam quality and the creativity of the signature drink. Roving around the stage, two technical judges and a head judge also keep an eye on the competitors’ consistency and cleanliness in the preparation of the drinks.
A standout performance by Ziggy Varamulia from Arlo by Mo saw him win back-to-back barista crowns. In the weeks before the event, Ziggy perfectly captured the feels of every competitor. “Why on earth do I compete? It’s difficult, time consuming and draining …. But I want to share the stories of people who have dedicated their lives to coffee. There’s surely no better feeling than standing in front of the judges and the crowd and telling that story for everyone to hear.”
Both passion and craftsmanship were 10/10 on Sunday, propelling Ziggy to back-to-back barista crowns and delighting the crowd and judges alike. Ziggy is so committed to Five Senses’ Ethiopian Tade GG, he’s used it three years in a row and says it just keeps getting better. Ziggy’s milk received the same love with a special hand-made blend, and his winning espresso profile was lime, lavender and nectarine.
So how does it feel to win a double crown? “Absolutely amazing. Incredible! I’m a bit calmer this year and just want to keep the focus – with nationals looming and then the WBC in May … representing Australia would be an absolute dream of mine.”
Runner-up was Matt Goncalves from Merchant & Maker in Dunsborough. Matt is no newcomer to the comp, having placed 3rd in the 2016 Western Region Barista Competition. “This year, I talked about climate change which I’m passionate about. I deliberately chose Hector Zuñiga from Colombia as a high yielding, disease-resistant varietal, and focused on how a farmer’s ability to control fermentation can have really positive results on the coffee. My signature drink spoke to this. I used a vacuum chamber to seal the espresso from oxygen and allow it to cool and mix with all of the ingredients in a very controlled way. When we compete, we’re lucky enough to have an audience who listen to what we have to say – and we should make the most of that.”
Third place in the hotly contested barista category went to first-time competitor and Five Senses Barista Academy Trainer, Lena Richrath. “The lead up to the competition was super stressful – but exciting too. I enjoyed working closely with the roasting team, learning new things and getting out of my comfort zone. I chose Luis Anibal, a Geisha from Colombia, which is honey processed and had been lacto-fermented. I love fermentation because it has the ability to change the flavour to something you could never achieve without it. The goal was to utilise fermentation to elevate the drink and add to its complexity, delivering notes of plum, peach nectar and grapefruit. I combined a fermented plum sorbet, homemade ginger beer and elderflower syrup with my espresso.”
Top placing competitors from the regionals will proceed to the 2020 national championships.
Western Regional Barista
1st: Ziggy Varamulia (Arlo by Mo)
2nd: Matt Goncalves (Merchant & Maker)
3rd: Lena Richrath (Five Senses Coffee)
1st: Andy Tseng (Darkstar Coffee)
2nd: Huang Yuan-Ching (Mel & Co)
3rd: Alex Whigham (C.R.E.A.M)
1st: Heath Dalziel (Third Time Lucky Coffee, Adelaide)
2nd: Renae Murray (Five Senses Coffee)
3rd: Mike Wells (Veneziano Coffee Roasters)
1st: Ru Teow (Laika)
2nd: Cheng Paul (Home Enthusiast)
3rd: Wen DC (Freelance Barista)