Since the Victorian Siphon heats in March, Australia’s alternate brew method competition scene has really been heating up. Small Batch (Auction Rooms) hosted the first national competition in their brand new roastery in North Melbourne, unshackling baristas from the constraints of espresso brewing and releasing an extraordinary sense of creative freedom only evident when a new style of competition is explored. Up for grabs was a trip to compete on the world stage in Japan, a limited edition “Tabi” siphon, complete with Tokyo skyline etched onto the glass and a one of a kind engraved paddle.
The Saturday gave previous competitors a second chance at glory in the open heats with the Victorians, most of whom had been disqualified in the State competition on time issues, snapping up all four spots. Each barista was given the Colombian Las Mangas, ten minutes and was asked to present three siphons, two identical and one signature beverage.
Jonathan Bentley from Auction Rooms got the rooms attention when he discovered mid routine that one of the rubbers seals had gone missing. He had a terrific return to form and presented the only savory signature of the day, a take on the dressing from his Nonna’s tomato salad that was salty, balsamic and rich. Kiril Shaginov showcased his precision and playfulness with a melted turkish delight and vanilla pod, sticky sweet signature. Aaron Wood from The Premises and Duchess of Spotswood shone with simplicity and an undeniable rock solid technique, sharing a beverage that eventually won him the best signature drink award. A simple an seasonal blood orange and fresh cane juice creation that highlighted the coffee itself. Aaron also came in third place.
Will Glover from Auction Rooms knocked it out of the ballpark though with his WCG Las Mangas stout. Will cooled his signature siphon with dry ice in a dramatic fashion, mixed with malt extract syrup, caramelised sugar and molases and then carbonated the lot to exaggerate the boozy, herbaceous nature of the Las Mangas. The specially made coasters topped off the whole experience and Will repeated his performance the next night, with even more sass, to nab the top spot.
Tuli Keidar from Mecca in Sydney began day two of the proceedings with one of the most exciting coffees in Australia at the moment, the Panama Elida. He used a blend of the natural and washed to achieve balance and created a signature siphon entitled “Voltron” that utilised galaxy hops, juniper berries and orange rind to end up with a very gin like beverage. Voltron was a tie with Aaron Wood for the best signature drink of the competition.
Iain McRae from Coffee Alchemy in Sydney managed to cram a lot into his ten minute time frame. He presented a blend of Kenyan Kanocho, Ethiopian Guji and Bolivian Caranavi and a spectacularly beautiful signature drink named, “The Black Star”, that dripped through and soaked up mandarin skins, cinnamon, star anise, earl grey tea, apricot and cacao. The beverage was finished by dissolving orange blossom fairy floss and munching on a macaroon.
Johnny Vroom had the weight of a state resting on his shoulders and with most of his time being chewed away by his new venture in Kew, Ora he did well to be nipping at Will’s heels in second place. Johnny used a blend of two Geishas roasted by Proud Mary, the Don Pachi and Santa Teresa. He bottled a carbonated and chilled blend of a cold drip of the same coffee and his signature siphon that he sweetened with a small amount of vanilla syrup. Johnny even managed to find time to cap the beverage in neat little bottles with, “sip”, written in gold lettering across the front.
Kris Wood also represented Proud Mary with their new season Geisha, the Santa Teresa. He was right on the money when describing this coffee as so perfect that there were absolutely no improvements that could be made on it in regards to a signature beverage. So he took a simplistic approach, resting the roasted beans for two days with fennel and bay leaf. Even after the onslaught of beverages, the judges touted his identical siphons as the best of the evening.
Will has been furiously training to go head to head with the worlds best in Tokyo on the 30th of September. I have no doubt Australia is in very good hands. Lets hope they like hip-hop. You can find out more about the competition here.