BARISTA CHAMPION OF AUSTRALIA
Think Tank Coffee
The fourth finalist of the 2014 WBC, is Craig Simon of Australia, who I just had the pleasure of watching compete in his national championship a few weeks ago in Melbourne. Craig has been one of the country’s most formidable barista competitors for years; the folks back home expect a lot of him. He works for Veniziano (which produced former Australian champs David Makin and others), and Think Tank Coffee, and this year he trained with the power team of Holly Bastin and Pete Licata—that’s right, THAT Pete Licata.
Craig has a charming demeanor that’s a pleasure to watch. He jumps right into his performance, with an explanation of how closely he worked with the coffee farmer whose coffee he’s using, how he traveled there to oversee a hybrid processing method: leaving the cherry on for 16 hours after picking; pulping and fermenting for 12 hours; then rinsing. He says this contributes to the flavor profile, of which lime notes and a silky mouthfeel are two of the primary components.
Craig was the Barista Champion of Australia in 2012 in Vienna, but he didn’t advance to the semifinal round. Coming back for a second shot at the world title has been on Craig’s mind for quite a long time, and this year, he’s here to prove something big.
Well, so far he’s succeeding. For his signature drink, he’s offering the judges a choice of recipes. As he gets their decision, he creates their drinks individually, table side. The judges’ choice: the second option, which combines tea, honey, grapefruit, and lime, as a showcase for the washed process of the coffee.
He practically dances through this last portion of his performance, executing the sig drink beautifully. Perhaps it’s in part because he’s played a critical role in every element of his coffee’s journey, or maybe it’s just a great day for Craig—whatever the reason, his performance today was something spectacular.