BARISTA CHAMPION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
Colonna & Smalls
Let me begin by saying that I wish my science teachers in school had been like Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood. Much of his performance hinges on some pretty impressive academic research into water science and composition. He uses colorful illustrations of calcium, magnesium, and the water buffer personified to show the judges how too much or too little of each component can negatively effect the coffee flavor profile. He actually brewed 3 coffees—each with extreme levels of each of the three components—for the judges to taste to understand how the various compositions change the coffee in the cup.
He even dons a lab coat and goggles for the effort—it adds whimsy to the heavy subject matter. He pulls all these elements together to create a a perfectly balanced routine, one that is academic and content-rich, but also charming and thoroughly enjoyable.
Maxwell was great when he made it to the finals of the WBC in 2012, but he’s a whole new competitor here. The UK is among the three most challenging countries in which to win a national competition, so the fact that Maxwell beat former UK champion John Gordon, as well as frequent high finisher Estelle Bright, to take top honors this year, gets him bonus points from the get go.
Maxwell tells us that he roasted the coffee for this competition—a Nicaraguan—in a variety of profiles, so that he could determine which to use depending on the water he would find here in Rimini. He says the water here has a high buffer, but he was easily able to select one of his roasts to work perfectly with that blend.
Maxwell’s presentation is truly a crowd-pleaser. I hear plenty of chatter around me from spectators musing about what the service would be like at Colonna & Smalls, the coffeehouse in Bath, England, that Maxwell owns and operates with his wife, Lesley.
His signature drink is fun and interactive, involving spritzes and beakers, truly marrying the art and organic element of coffee with the scientific component he’s worked so hard to incorporate. It works—it’s truly enjoyable. Fantastic work, Maxwell!