Friday, April 06, 2007

Introducing ... The Golden Cobra

Last week I had a lovely surprise when one of the usual suspects, Matt, dropped in to visit me at First Pour. Matt has a habit of ordering coffee from roasters across Australia and the globe and occasionally brought in some of the big-name US stuff to us at Maltitude and Maling Room. Last week, he brought me some stuff from Golden Cobra in NSW.

I only got to have a few shots out of the stuff that Matt gave me, so I won't try to give an in-depth description. For now, they will sit on the "must order" list. But I will make a few observations:
  • I liked the shots that I puled.

  • I was expecting coffee that was lighter in body and higher in acidity, ala Campos, Morgans, Numero Uno et. al. I was surprised to find that the blends sat more closely towards the Five Senses, Veneziano et. al. end of the spectrum, with a rich mouthfeel.

  • These guys are terrible at online marketing. Do a quick google and all that you will find is some random blog comments. Their webpage is a work in progress.

  • Golden Cobra have managed to seduce several cognoscenti that I know, including one that almost entirely eschews commercially roasted coffee in favour of his own roaster and linea combo at home.

  • Apparently one of these guys is ex-Campos. They're at least a year old.

  • Their logo is going to make for some really cool branded cups and paraphenalia.
It's always nice to see small roasteries starting up and I wish Golden Cobra the best of luck ...

... whoever they are.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Victorian Barista Championships Wrapup

For me, last week was a blur of clerkship applications. For a bunch of top baristi, it was time for the big competition.

One of the goals of the world barista competition is to improve the quality of coffee around the world. This year, the Victorian region must have taken the cake. Competition was fierce, with eight very polished baristi fighting it out on Sunday. Even from my vantage point right next to the presentation table, or watching the good bits of CCTV, it was difficult to see anyone losing technical points.

Unfortunately, I basically only had time to rush in, help Simon set up, pull some shots for the audience on the San Marino, watch a few competitors and then shoot on home to get some applications finished. Having been lucky enough to train with Peter and five of the competitors at First Pour, it was a great disappointment to me not to be able to stay for the whole thing.

Results were as follows, with some notes below:

1. David Makin
Barista/Sales Rep, Veneziano Coffee
Coffee by Peter Wolff

Dave Caps

Dave was clearly the main draw, with the Beach Club packing out just before his performance. Onlookers were not disappointed; Dave made it look easy, chatting to the judges about his drinks and breezing in with twenty seconds to spare.

2. Erin Sampson
Manager, HQ
Coffee by Peter Wolff

(Photo from David's Flickr)

Erin was one of the last competitors, and had the misfortune of having to compete three times. The first time around, the machine's water bottle ran dry. The second time around, it was clear that there was some air sitting in the top of the groups that needed to be bled off. In the end, Erin removed all of her stuff and set up on the other machine.

3. Simon James
Manager, HQ
Coffee by Peter Wolff

Simon Setting Up

I remember watching Simon go overtime, trying to compete with a mazzer mini a few years ago. This year, despite having to lug a robur up two flights of stairs, everything seemed to go off without a hitch. I was quite anxious for Simon, as he chose to use a blend featuring Yemeni coffee, which I feel can be really hit and miss.

It was quite funny that Simon finished one second overtime, and scored a mere half a point less than Erin. I believe that Simon and Erin had each won one internal HQ barista competition, so this was the grudge match. Hopefully they will write this one off and settle it at the opens!

4. Cassie Ann Lawry
Barista, First Pour (Veneziano Coffee)
Coffee by Peter Wolff

(Photo from Nathan's Flickr)

Cassie had the second highest technical score. Unfortunately, her coffee seems to have let her down this time. I'm not sure if it was the fact that it was a blend of a single origin at different roast levels, or because this particular roast was a little dark. The Yauco Selecto blend really has an incredible mouthfeel and sweetness to it, so the result was quite disappointing.

Look out: I'm sure that Cassie will breeze through the opens.

5. Con Haralambopoulos
Owner, 7 Grams
Coffee by Peter Wolff

(Photo from Nathan's Flickr)

It has to say something about the calibre of the competitors if the guy who scored far and above everyone else in the Trans-Tasman barista comp only finished fifth. Whilst Con's signature drink looked awesome, I suspect that the fact that it was a cold drink really made it difficult for him to pick up points.

6. Toshiyuki (Toshi) Ishiwata (Ineligible - Japanese Citizen)
Barista/Roaster, St Ali
Coffee by St Ali

Toshi Doses

Toshi is definitely a crowd favourite. His signature drink involved a flavoured whipped cream being placed on an espresso. The cream appeared quite stiff, so I suspect that he lost points for the drink not being drinkable.

7. Zoe Delany
Trainer, Michel's Patisserie and Sunbeam
Coffee by Michel's Patisserie

(Photo from Nathan's Flickr)

I didn't get to see Zoe's performance, but did hear that she went 20 seconds overtime.

8. Aaron Kindred
Barista, Oomph (Ineligible - From Tasmania)
Coffee by Oomph

(Having trouble getting a photo of him up here)

... so I guess that now it's time to get to work on the Nationals! I think that Victoria will be the state to beat this year.

A few more snaps ...

San Marino WTF?

With Simon's Robur, competition blends and competition baristi, we actually managed to squeeze some decent coffee out of this setup for the audience ... until the San Marino tripped the power!

Cafenatics Hearts David Makin

The David Makin cheer squad.

Dave Full House

Full house.

Nail Biting

Pete, Craig and I bite our nails.