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Competition 2023 Reflection

On 24th March we held our first annual “East Anglia’s Best Barista” competition as The Nest with the aim of uniting baristas from across the region and crowning the highest scoring barista across two different practises as “East Anglia’s Best Barista”. The winner would receive a Gaggia Ruby espresso machine and on-demand grinder package worth £1650 donated by Evoca Group who were machine sponsor for the event. The prize for the runner up was a £100 Coffee-Hit gift card donated by Brita.

The set up the baristas used consisted of a sparkling white two group La Guista espresso machine from Gaggia. The power the large boiler and insulated steam wands provided certainly helped the baristas steam their milk extra quickly – a real help in the first round. The grinder was sponsored by Brew-it Group who supplied the mighty Mahlkonig E80 Supreme, the same grinder used in the United Kingdom Barista Championship this year. Again the speed at which the E80 grinds coffee really helped the competitors complete the tasks without having to wait and the quality of the grinder meant every shot ran brilliantly.

The first round saw all six of the finalists complete an order of six drinks as quickly as they could whilst also maintaining the quality that they would serve them at.

The team of judges, Lucy Avery from Green Farm Coffee, David Rickenback from The Feed and David Nickerson-Smith from The Gentleman Baristas were assigned the task of keeping track of how the baristas worked and how good the drinks served were. The scoring looked at things from correct use of steam wand cloths all the way down to clearing loose grinds on the portafilter basket, as well as the technicality of latte art patterns and the contrast achieved between milk and crema.

With all the judging criteria, incredible equipment and amazing prizes on offer for the baristas, the tasks were certainly nerve-wracking, then we put some cameras on them and showed the footage on the giant 3×3 flat screen wall at the back of the Inspire space to really up the pressure. The team at Salt-Studio did a great job covering the day, the evidence of which is at the bottom.

The first round flew by with some impressive times from the baristas, so we had time to squeeze in a mini round for an extra prize, a bag of our Peruvian Tunki beans. As many latte art ‘stacks’ or layers to be poured in the smallest cup available was the task set and Sophie Arbuthnott excelled at it not only with the amount but the clarity she poured them with as well.

With Latte art becoming the theme, the second round commenced in which the competitors had to pour two matching patterns, first with dairy milk then with alternative milk. The exceptional steam power the Gaggia La Guista provides allowed all the baristas to steam perfect milk and pour some excellent designs even with their chosen alternative milks, which can be trickier. The scores for the second round were all very close with the exception of Will Greavner who took home a bonus bag of coffee for coming top in the second round 12.5 points clear of second place.

Once all the scores were totalled up it was time to give the incredibly talented baristas their prizes and crown “East Anglia’s Best Barista”. The standard was very high from everyone and as a competitor in other competitions myself I knew just how much courage it takes to stand in front of a room and show of your skills. Because of this we gifted every competitor with a gift box including coffee and gifts kindly donated by Gaggia, Brita and Green Farm Coffee.

The £100 voucher provided by Brita for our second place prize went to Oliver Jacques who’s consistent scores through both rounds kept him near the top but in the end were no match for the incredible speed of Taylor Williams who scored not only the fastest time in the first round but carried on to pour latte art on par with most in the second round.

We crowned Taylor “East Anglia’s Best Barista 2023” and presented him with his new Gaggia Ruby and MD42 on demand grinder which he took an immediate shine to before wrapping up the day.

Taylor was also kind enough to send us this video of his new setup in action.

The whole event ran very smoothly thanks to the team at The Nest and would not have been possible without the generous donations of equipment and prizes from Gaggia, Brew-it Group and Brita.

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