Whew! The past few days have been a whirlwind of action as the Australian coffee community and our international friends came together for the remarkable tenth annual Melbourne International Coffee Expo. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement as baristas showcased their skills and passion for the art of coffee.
The heart of the event was undoubtedly the Australia’s Richest Barista Competition, and let me tell you, it was nothing short of exhilarating! Competing for the alluring prizes of $25,000, $10,000, and $5,000 for first, second, and third places respectively, baristas displayed their talent and dedication in three challenging rounds over the course of three days.
Our own Tristan Creswick jumped in at the last moment as emcee after the one previously scheduled unfortunately fell ill, giving us a front row seat to the action.
Round one had baristas crafting eight beverages in just twelve minutes - two espresso, two milk beverages, two alternative milk beverages, and two signature beverages. It was a true test of speed and precision, and the baristas rose to the challenge beautifully. Helping each barista was a Dalla Corte ICON, eager to do it's part to make the lucky champion 25,000 dollars richer.
Round two brought the artistry of coffee to life with four latte art beverages poured within ten minutes. The catch? Two patterns were chosen by a spin of the wheel, while the other two were freestyle expressions of the barista's creativity. With such an intimidating challenge, the consistency and power of the ICON's steam wand was essential. The stage was a canvas, and the baristas, the artists.
As the competition progressed to its final stage, only eight baristas remained in the spotlight. The ultimate showdown, round three, required a keen sense of taste and discernment. The cup tasting round pushed their sensory skills to the limit in a thrilling race to the finish line.
When the dust settled, it was none other than the Instagram sensation and coffee powerhouse, Jibbi Little, who earned first place. Her protege, Daoz Pirada, secured a well-deserved second place, a testament to their relentless dedication and hard work. And rounding off the top three was Lucky Salvador from Kafe Utu in Singapore, radiating both warmth and remarkable coffee.
The Melbourne International Coffee Expo wasn't just about competition; it was a celebration of community, art, and the boundless possibilities of coffee. It was about connecting with friends and peers in the industry and sharing and growing together. We loved every moment.