WBC Finalist #6: Matt Perger of Australia

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Hometown boy Matt Perger has drawn the crowds today, for sure. It seems like half of Melbourne is here at the World Barista Championship finals. In fact, I just got up to stretch my legs, and out in the lobby are mobs of people cued up to get a seat in here!

Matt has turned absolutely everything about the barista competition format on its ear here—he’s developed a new tamping method, which he calls “nutating,” wherein he circles the tamper around, pushing the grounds together to keep the water from pushing through the grounds very quickly. He also is using perhaps the strangest grinder ever to appear at the WBC: a batch grinder, rather than an espresso grinder.

All 1,200 seats in the WBC area are filled, and there are gobs of people outside waiting to get in to see local boy Matt Perger.

All 1,200 seats in the WBC area are filled, and there are gobs of people outside waiting to get in to see local boy Matt Perger.

He’s using a red bourbon from Colombia, fully washed. He also worked very closely with a local dairy farmer adjusting the diet of the cows who would create the milk Matt would use in competition. He tells the judges today that the milk ghe’s using on stage is from a cow named Blossom.

It’s pretty crazy here: I don’t know if Ive ever been in as intense a WBC environment as this: Melbourne is a hugely coffee-centric city, Australia as a whole has one of the most progressive coffee cultures in the world, if not the most progressive. And Matt is the Australian barista champion, competing in the final round of the World Barista Championship. The level of excitement in this room is staggering.

For a 25-year-old, Matt has confidence in spades.

For a 25-year-old, Matt has confidence in spades.

Matt was in the finals of the WBC once before, in Bogota in 2011. Truly though, I would assume being surrounded by so many locals cheering you on to represent the host country.

Matt is doing something totally bizarre for his signature drink: he’s pulling long shots — he calls them coffee shots. So his signature drink doesn’t even use any other ingredients besides espresso. He’s using 3 different varietals of coffee from Colombia, all of which have been pulled long. He then pulls shots of his red bourbon, and adds the long shots to the espresso. He tells the judges they will taste tart cherry cola, subtle raisin sweetness, among other flavors.

Matt Perger has been in the WBC finals once before: in 2011 in Bogota.

Matt Perger has been in the WBC finals once before: in 2011 in Bogota.

Matt calls this his dream signature drink, and the judges have loved it thus far. Matt’s got the audience on the edges of their seats. He’s shown very well this weekend—very well done, Matt!

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.