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2021 Barista Championships

Zuri Blend was the coffee of choice for the 2021 Barista Championships held recently at our training facility in Fortitude Valley.

Over two Tuesday nights in May, the championship heats were run with 28 competitors quelling their nerves to make six coffees in eight minutes. Two short blacks, two cappuccinos and two mezzos were produced by each competitor for the panel of esteemed judges.

The judging panel consisted of the refined taste buds of:

Sensory Judges

  • Simon Brooks, Head of Coffee
  • Steve Olorenshaw, Head Roaster
  • Kado McKenna, Coffee Trainer
  • Frith La Vin, Coffee Educator

Technical Judges

  • Molly O’Rourke, Coffee Trainer
  • Emma Scott, Coffee Trainer

The sensory judges assess each coffee on consistency, flavour, balance and visual appeal. Judges are hidden away from the competitors and totally unaware who is making each coffee.

Lemon gelato and a fresh baguette loaf were used as palate cleansers between the many coffees consumed each night.

Technical judges watched each competitor closely, looking for correct dosing, grind adjustment dosage levels and the ability to multitask and leave behind a very clean machine!

The technical judges were also responsible for resetting the grind of the machine between each competitor, testing out their palate and the ability to find the perfect grind. Stress levels were high!


Staff from all stores were there in force to cheer on their colleagues, with Bowen Hills taking home the prize for the most enthusiastic cheer squad.

On the night of the finals the top six baristas arrived, aprons in hand ready for some fierce competition. Each had to prepare 12 coffees in 15 minutes for the judges. No mean feet with a strong field consisting of; Chloe Casswell from Fortitude Valley, Fergus Pascoe from George Street, Chris Wood from Eagle Farm, Nicole Paulsen from Coorparoo, Luna Rodrigues-Lucre from George Street and Freya Brunning from Paddington.

The top three baristas for 2021 won some amazing prizes which will go towards continuing their coffee education. First prize is a trip to the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, second prize a Breville pack consisting of our new Breville Bambino Plus and Breville Smart Grinder Pro and third prize an Alternative Brew Pack.

According to Frith La Vin (one of the judges) - ‘It was really tough gig picking a winner’

Our Founder Dean Merlo was on hand to award the prizes to the top three winners on the night:

First Prize - Chloe Caswell Fortitude Valley

Second Price – Freya Brunning, Paddington

Third Prize – Luna Rodriguez-Lucre

With only twenty points between the top three winners, it was a close competition right to the end.

A huge thank you to all competitors for entering the competition and congratulations to the winners.