Singapore National Barista Championships 2011 Day 1 Highlights

I wrote a first draft of a post I extremely liked until the wee hours of this morning, but I felt I was straying from the subject heading too much, therefore, although I feel it should justly be the highlight of this entire event, I shall address it last instead.

For those heading out to Singapore National Barista Championships, running alongside Tea & Coffee World Cup Asia today and tomorrow, you can skip the lengthy one hour wait I had to endure just by bringing along your business card, which will substitute as your name tag. I, unfortunately am a lowly barista trainer and wouldn’t warrant a card at my hotel. And for those who are signing up for classes like roasting or cupping, please queue up in the SPECIAL EVENTS queue. I queued in the VISITORS queue and was told to re-queue after queuing for an hour. Are you kidding?

The number one highlight of this entire event will be mentioned in the next post after this one. I’ve only watched 3 performances yesterday, the remaining time spent trolling the numerous booths. The first was last year’s Champion from Oriole Cafe, Keith Loh. Keith was using single origin Kenyan Gethumbwini, which is also one of my favourite and first roasts, also a favourite of jimseven who utilised it and won World Barista Championship 2007. Winey, blackcurrants, I can just taste it. I have a video of Keith’s performance which I will edit later tonight. I had the privilege of tasting the alpha stage of his signature drink during this past Chinese New Year in February. His signature drink is named Gethumbwini Sunrise. Keith’s main goal here is to redefine the taste of espresso by removing the undissolved solids in the cup and replacing these with his own custom oils/fragrances. He achieves this by filtering out the “undesired” parts of the espresso with Hario v60’s and then adding chilled water (looks like 2:1) and finally spraying some lemon oils into the cup and rubbing the oils onto the rim of the cup.

Speaking of jimseven, this signature drink reminds me of jimseven’s first video blog, which caused somewhat of an outrage in espressodom. It led me to 2 experiments, which you can read about in the following links.

Espresso sans Crema Test

Americano sans Crema Test

For the balls (sorry, for lack of better words) Keith has, he truly deserves the brand spanking new machine (the actual number one highlight of SNBC 2011). He’s gone and redefined espresso as we know it. Take out the defining blackcurrants in Gethumbwini, add in the lemons. It should renamed Getlemonbwini. An extremely risky effort, which I’ve been telling him since February, but I really hope he wins this year and gets to take this performance to a world stage. Unnerving, mind-blowing.

The 2nd performance I watched was Suhaida from Marina Mandarin Hotel. She used a blend of Costa Rica SHB and Sumatra Mandheling, and her signature was supposed to use a reduction of honey and figs, but her equipment broke down, and she quickly changed her signature on the fly to a pourover over honey and figs. She’s inspired me to enter into the race next year. During her interview with Victor Mah, the president of Singapore Coffee Association, Suhaida mentioned that the state of hotel coffee is improving. I’m definitely heading to Marina Mandarin for a sip. Her colleagues were extremely supportive, ranging from the GM to the F&B Directors and the staff.

The 3rd performance looked to be another contender for the Final 6. Ryan Tan from Papa Palheta. He’s a Singaporean working in one of the cafes in Australia. His signature was a reduction of fruits and nuts?? But it was his performance that was eye-catching. He had attention to every detail and was cleaning up as he went along. Impeccable! It was a pleasure watching him perform his routine.

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