Amsterdam trip brewing for top barista
The sound of hissing steam wands and aroma of coffee filled the air as nine baristas battled it out for the top national title.
The Meadowfresh New Zealand Barista Championships were held in Upper Hutt at the weekend and, after two days, Aucklander John Gordon was crowned best barista.
But it wasn’t until he hit his 20s that Gordon said he had even had a ‘‘decent coffee’’.
‘‘I grew up on instant coffee from my grandparents.’’
He spent years in the United Kingdom, honing his skills and competing, then had a break of three or four years before stepping up to be judged again. ‘‘It was like doing it for the first time .’’
He roasted his own beans and presented espresso with notes of kiwifruit and lime, a milky coffee with custard and raspberry notes and a signature drink with nashi pear nectar. His winning coffees earned him a place at the World Barista Championships in Amsterdam in June.
For the judges, tasting the coffees was a complex challenge.
‘‘In the past, we thought taste was the same for everyone – bitter at the side of the tongue, sweet at the front. But now we know that’s not true,’’ judge Masako Yamamoto said.
‘‘It’s quite complicated to score on taste because everyone tastes differently. If you were looking at colours, you might say it’s red and I would say it’s orange.’’
New Plymouth’s Nico Refiti, of Ozone Coffee Roasters, was the event’s runner-up, while Frank Hsu, of Franks in Wellington, placed third.
A judge scrutinises the coffee-making technique of 2018 National Barista Champion John Gordon in Upper Hutt last weekend.
Wellington entrant Frank Hsu, right, placed third in the two-day competition.