Porirua baristas are a smooth team
They’re the perfect team for making the perfect coffee.
Alice Cunningham and Danielle Harlen recently took out the New Zealand section of the Muffin Break Barista Competition.
They head to Sydney this week to fly the flag against the best of the Australian Muffin Break baristas.
In a new twist this year, competitors had to work in pairs, rather than individually, to make three lattes in three minutes.
The judging took place at their own premises, rather than at an event in Auckland.
The judge awarded points for teamwork, precision timing in each step of the coffee-making process, finished design, and taste.
The baristas also had to create three designs – a rosetta, a tulip, and a heart – in the coffee by pouring the steamed milk in a different way for each latte.
Cunningham, who works at Muffin Break part-time, said she and Harlen prepared meticulously for the big day, about six weeks ago, including practising in their own time at the outlet in North City Shopping Centre.
‘‘We knew that every single action would be watched,’’ she said. ‘‘I was nervous before we started, but everything fell into place.’’
During the three minutes, Cunningham worked the grinder and prepared the shot, while Harlen sorted the milk and poured.
Harlen, the cafe’s assistant manager, said they thought they had not made the cut when manager Shane Pierce didn’t ring them the day the winners were announced.
‘‘I was disappointed because we’d worked so hard, but then Shane rang me a lot later in the day,’’ she said.
‘‘I was rapt, but then I realised we’d be representing all the New Zealand Muffin Break stores, so no pressure or anything.’’
Cunningham said it was a shock to learn she was off to Sydney.
Pierce himself won the New Zealand section of the competition in 2014 and 2015, and took out the Australasian crown last year.
His experience and mentoring was crucial to them making the perfect coffee, Harlen said.
She had worked at the cafe eight years and wanted to embrace the opportunity to represent New Zealand, and Porirua, in Australia.
Entrants are also judged on personality and wastage in Sydney.
Alice Cunningham, left, and Danielle Harlen, know how to make a great coffee.