The Road to Seattle and Gothenburg

Nic Rapp, Meg Barker, and Addison Dale compete for the New Zealand Brewers Cup and New Zealand Barista Championships.

  • Well team, just on two weeks ago now, the whole crew at Flight Coffee got involved in the Caffeination trade show, which played host to four coffee competitions over the short space of a single weekend; it was definitely a full on couple of days. 

    The four competitions held at the event were the Cup Taster’s Championship, Latte Art Championship, Brewer’s Cup and of course the Barista Championship. We had our ever lovely and talented head roaster, Megan Wyper as well as the charming and good looking, Addison Dale from Café Pure Co. using Flight Coffee competing in the Barista Champs, and your's truly competing in the Brewer’s for a second year. Flight was definitely well represented!

    On the first day of the event was the Brewer’s Cup, held for the first time in conjunction with the Barista Championships. Once again, I had the opportunity to compete, with the added pressure of defending my title. Instead of using an Aeropress this time, I was after something that produced a cleaner cup, so I opted for a Gino Dripper. Some things just don’t change though and I was lucky enough to once again use an exceptionally tasty washed Colombian coffee from the Huila region, this time from Pedro Trujillo farm El Jardin. In the cup, this coffee was all about the malic acidity and it just screamed crisp green apples. Balanced out with brown sugar like sweetness and pink grapefruit in the aftertaste. I absolutely loved working with this coffee and I will have the amazing opportunity to take it with me to represent New Zealand at the World Brewer’s Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden in June. My beautiful coach, Sarah, who will coincidently be visiting friends and family in Copenhagen will also accompany me. Looks like I’ll be meeting her parents too… not nervous! 

  • It was definitely a full on couple of days.

    At the same time the Barista Champ heats were getting underway. This is always an exciting time, with the calibre of competitors ramping up every year; this year was definitely no exception. Not to mention the championship being MC’d by a few coffee superstars: 2013 New Zealand Barista Champion, our very own Nick Clark, current World Barista Champion, Hidenori Izaki and multiple times UK Barista Champion, John Gordon. Needless to say the banter between these three was totally outrageous.

  • Meg used a coffee produced by Elkin Guzman, a Colombian farmer producing in the Huila region. Elkin produced his coffee using an interesting technique he calls the “coffee-cake” method, which involves mixing in the second days harvest in with the first days harvest to ferment, while the first day is already fermenting. The mix of both days’ harvests is then washed and dried. The result was a very balanced and bright espresso with notes of ginger bread, cocoa nib and sugar cane. The overarching theme of Meg’s performance was “curiosity”; curiosity that made Elkin try a new processing method with his coffee and curiosity that made Meg want to get the best out of it. Even though Meg didn’t take it out this time, her performance definitely had an important message to share, with relevance to our industry as a whole. 

  • Recently coming on board with Flight last year, using our coffee in his cafes in Christchurch, Addison has been a regular competitor for the past three years of the barista champs and this year achieving the title of New Zealand’s Barista Champion. As I write this blog post Addison is getting to compete in Seattle with his coach Nick Clark, Richard – who will be judging the champs overseas – and his lovely lady, Jennifer, and show the world what he’s made of at the 2015 World Barista Championships. Addison will be taking the El Recuerdo, produced by Carlos Guamanga, another Colombian from the Huila region. The El Recuerdo is a washed processed coffee, with notes of pink grapefruit, panella sugar, baker’s cocoa and a silky body. Competing on the 9th of April (Seattle time), Addison has only had a few weeks preparation time before he has to compete with champions representing over 50 countries, but we know he’ll kick some serious coffee butt and at the very least have one hell of a good time! 

  • The man who played a vital role sourcing the three championship Colombian coffees, Tyler Youngblood of Azahar Coffee was in New Zealand for the first time and was able to see the coffees in action. He also provided vital feedback –particularly for myself – in the preparation happening in the week leading up to the competitions. He’s also a really fun guy, so hanging out we definitely had some laughs!

  • This year the rest of the team at Flight got seriously involved in the competitions; if not competing, then doing their bit to help out with the vital tasks that allow these events to happen. Nick and Trev MCing up a storm, Richard and Sarah judging the Barista Champs, Matt taught a class and everyone else sat in on run-throughs, helped polish and organise competition gear, and were just an overall great support crew. It was great to see and there was a real team vibe of everyone pulling together. It was definitely an awesome couple of days. 

    If you want to watch Addison compete in Seattle but can’t afford the plain ticket, the competition is streamed live, so keep an eye on our Facebook page where we’ll be providing regular updates: running times, etc. We’ll definitely all be watching here at Flight! 

    You’ll also be able to see me compete at the World Brewer’s Cup later in the year, so keep an eye out. And you can get a Gino Dripper off our website if you want to try out some coffee made with the same brewer I used to win the Brewer’s Cup. 

    - Nic Rapp,
    2015 New Zealand Brewer’s Cup Champion.

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