Irish Barista Finals

So Tuesday saw Ireland’s 5th National Barista Championship take place. Ten finalists showed their goods over the whole day with one of the best attendances I’ve seen yet. The venue for the comp was Ireland’s biggest catering show called Catex which interestingly, had way more coffee exhibitors than ever before. I spent a lot of the show working on the Bewley’s stand and so I didn’t get a chance to watch the whole show. I did get a chance to see a few of our competitors from the cafe compete though but sadly, for you guys, I wasn’t my usual snap happy myself, and so I’ve feck all pics for you.

We had four competitors in the finals and I’m quite chuffed to tell you that we grabbed 1st, 3rd and 4th. Andrius Valiagua took 1st place, Niamh Harrington of Cafe Krem a close second followed by Bela Bartok in third, 2 points ahead of Rachael Coss who came 4th. Andrius is an incredibly good bar barista and his biggest challenge in all this was learning how to slow down and pace himself for competition. His technical consistency was impressive but not as much as the four cappuccino he served each with a double rosetta.

Sadly, it was felt by the judges that the baristas were not given the chance to truly shine due to their lack of familiarity with the Iberital machines used for the competition. The low dispersion block meant that people needed to pay particular attention to their dose, to ensure getting the portafilter into the group head. Sadly, this additional stress proved too much for competitors with nearly all of them having to remake numerous espresso. Bela apparently made 6 attempts before he could get the pf into the machine, though somehow still managed to go on and place third.  Iberital were the only machine company that stepped up to sponsor the event but hopefully future years will see National competitions baring closer resemblance to wbc procedures and choices of machine.

The machine killed our espresso blend. I’m not sure of the science behind it, but at 5 days old, our coffee just seemed to die pretty quickly with higher temp of the machine. The same coffee was just lovely off the gb5 marzocco on the Bewley’s stand. Despite this annoyance though, it seemed to affect everyone’s espresso and with everyone using the same machines, no one really had an advantage.

The following weeks will be interesting for me as I battle with myself to devote the necessary time to my last two months in college when the coffee world offers more experiences than ever. My next port of call will be London next weekend, and then the weekend again after that for the UKBC. I’m also looking at a weekend trip up to Copenhagen to catch up with Troels and Bjorg Brend in Kontra.

Thats all for now, but I’d like to express, once again my sincerest apologies to those who feel I do not post enough. It is indeed true that I’m fierce lazy but sleep safe in the knowledge that intend posting a lot more over the coming weeks as there be many interesting things in the pipe line.

pics of comp and some practice days before are on flickr


6 thoughts on “Irish Barista Finals

  1. Stephen,

    You say no other machine company stepped up to the plate to sponsor – this surprises me. Hard to believe that they werent biting the hands off the organisers. In the UK that is the case with the machine sponsor being the most hotly contested category of sponsorship.

    Its a shame that the baristi in the final were not familar enough the machine to be able to pull thier shots well. I would guess that is needs sorting out for next year!


  2. […] centre in the Docklands where the UKBC was being held. Have to say I thought the stand at the Irish finals were a lot more impressive. Thanks to Jim and Annette for the photos. Didn’t get a chance to […]

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