Psalm 100:5 – For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Happy New Year!

Yesterday was a long day, for no one more so than the baristas that competed in the Northern Ireland heat of the UK Barista Championship.

Only eight competitors took part in the smaller than normal competition, but there was certainly no lack of intensity in this fascinating exhibition of their skills and coffee knowledge. The eight competitors, in order of appearance were:

Judith McVitty – Clements, Royal Avenue
Neli Petkova – Cafe Krem, Banbridge
Heather Jamison – Quail’s, Banbridge
Michael McLauglin – Clements, Royal Avenue
Jon Armstrong – Coffee Republic
Rachel Mawhinney – The Streat
Julia McKenna – Clements, QUB Student Union
Luke Powell – Cafe Krem, QUB Peter Froggart Centre
Continue reading

The live blog is long and rambling, I’ve moved it behind the link below to tidy up the front page a litte.

1. Neli Petkova – Cafe Krem
2. Heather Jamison – Quails
3. Julie McKenna – Clements
Top 24 from the UK go to finals
I spy a bag of hasbean coffee
The judges are back
Internet problem caused by being in an area where 3G ends and 2.5G starts, meaning the wireless card spends most of its time flicking between bands instead of actually working.
Just awaiting the result from the judges, lots of nervous baristas standing by
Apologies for the lack of updates, we lot internet connectivity earlier, thankfully the recording seems to have worked ok, so I’ll review the final baristas later
Two minute warning.
Mixture served into the cups prepared earlier
Time called, well done Jon
Small amount of peppermint tea, chocolate, condensed coconut, fresh coconut milk and black pepper in a jug and stirred,
Ice added to jug with a squirt of lime juice and the mixture above sieved in.
Now to add espresso, but to be served cold.
Speciality drink details
Infusing peppermint tea, cutting up lime, melted sweet chocolate.
Lime for the rims of the cups, dipped in melted chocolate
5 min warning
8 varieties of bean, including robusta because it cuts through the milk well, caramel finish with chocolate hints.
Recommends an extraction time of 20-25s for this blend
Espresso uses Brazil Daterra yellow bourbon, with citrus notes and dominican republic, med acidity, wine like towards the end.
Separate blend for cappuccinos and signature drinks, the coffee republic house blend
The next competitor is Jon Armstrong from Coffee republic, formerly of Clement’s. A coffee legend in Northern Ireland and he knows it.
Honey roasted parsnip macchiato, again, that’s very different
Only two minutes to go
5 minute warning
Since the burner won’t start Michael is steeping the parsnips in milk before steaming them from cold. Yes I have confirmation, real parsnips!
Looks like the gas stove won’t start, not sure what that means for the signature drink
Starting off with preparation for his signature drink which includes crushed honey roasted parsnips?? Did I hear that right?
Like Judith, Michael is also using Clements house blend
Just returning from lunch break, up next is Michael McLaughlin from Clement’s Royal Avenue.
Got to speak interview Se Gorman and think I ended up sounding like a fanboy, sorry…
Coffee, honey oranges and milk, served in a cocktail glass for the signature drink and thats her done, under the time limit, well done.
Heather is working on her signature drink, she isn’t saying very much about it however.
5min warning
Third competitor is preparing to start, Heather Jamison from Banbridge, she is using a blend from Johnsons. Lots of oranges (colour and fruit) in her setup, finished her espresso and is preparing her cappuccinos now.
1 Minute warning
Signature drink contains freshly squeezed lemon mousse
Oh, now I get it, she has fully prepared two cappuccinos and served them before starting the next two. Chocolate and cherry notes in the cup
Neli will be serving the ladies first and the gentlemen second
Neli has started, she is using a three bean blend, Guatemalan, Brazilian and Bolivian. Her music faded out as she finished talking, very polished.
I don’t know much about Bolivian beans, so you should ask Steve
Judges are back, Neli’s table setup is very elegant, she’s almost ready to go
Post routine interview with Judith, I think I was more nervous than she was.
Sig drink has spice to complement the spice in the espresso, is adding green & black’s chocolate, whipping cream and cinnamon. Sounds very nice to me, I have an idea, a fifth drink for podcasters 🙂
Cappuccinos finished off, can’t actually make out the latter art, will check photos later.
Neli and Se have began setup for Cafe Krem at machine 2

Espresso has been served, the Sumatran adds a rounded spice to the end of the cup
Beginning cappuccino prep
Remaking one espresso after a minor spillage
Judith is using Clement’s own house blend (which I have to say I really like) and is preparing her espsresso
Judith from Clements Royal Ave has started
She became a barista as she had been waitressing and wanted a new challenge and always enjoyed the smell, taste and artform of coffee.

Judges have been announced, updates to names when I get them

Jeremy Regan – Head Judge

Denise Hall – Sensory Judges

Joanne – Technical Judges