Addison Dale of Pure Café Company in Christchurch has won the 2015 New Zealand Barista Championship, which was held between 21st–22nd of March in conjunction with Caffeination 2015, the biggest coffee event happening annually in Wellington, New Zealand. Unlike some larger nations, New Zealand does not have regional heats for its national barista competition. So all 23 competitors from across the country made their way to the capital city to battle in the first heat on March 21st. Semi-finalists and finalists then had an intense battle on Sunday the 22nd. Mr. Dale will now be representing New Zealand at the World Barista Championship 2015 to be held in Seattle.
Addison Dale is no stranger in the competition circuit—having advanced to the finals at the last two NZBC events in 2013 and 2014. His winning routine this year was fast paced with loads of useful information referring directly back to the score sheet, a trend that top baristas use to encourage higher scores from the judges. Dale did so, however, without being robotic and showed a great deal of passion throughout his routine.
At the beginning of his 15 minutes, Mr. Dale advised the judges that he would be moving quickly and provided each one with an information card to follow along with. He then swiftly explained that the whole routine would be divided into three sections: introduction (cappuccino), body (espresso), and conclusion (signature drink). The coffee he chose was a wet-processed Red Caturra from El Recuerdo, Colombia, grown by Carlos Gaumanga, and roasted by Flight Coffee. He explained in his routine that the roast profile of the coffee helped impact its flavor and taste and brought balance to the cup.
In his routine, Addison Dale explained fluently and clearly his depth of knowledge for this particular coffee. From how the generic history of the cherry influenced the acidity, to how the region of Colombia where it was grown affected the sweetness, to how picking and processing affected tactile qualities, and even to how the elevation it was grown at affected sugar development. During the cappuccino course, Dale called out flavor notes of gingerbread and malt biscuit followed by an explanation on why the coffee has such sweetness. For espressos—served with a set of instructions to the judges for how and when to evaluate the drink—he offered flavor notes of pink grapefruit, cocoa, and sugar cane.
For his signature drink, Addison Dale sought to redefine the experience the judges just had with the espressos and cappuccinos by adding his own influence—specifically, a set of ingredients meant to highlight the acidity already found in the El Recuerdo. To do so he needed four ingredients: espresso, chilled water, sugar cane syrup infused with lemon zest, and cocoa syrup. He finished the beverage by adding carbonation and asked the judges to immediately evaluate with a series of specific sips.
Addison Dale’s script in this routine was thorough and delivered with clarity and precision. He moved quickly with natural confidence but allowed enough time for the judges to evaluate drinks in-between each course. He also emphasized the balance of his coffee as well as its provenance—anchoring flavor notes, like sweetness and acidity, with the practices at origin that resulted in these tastes. Watching Addison Dale compete (and competing alongside him, as I have in previous years), it’s evident that there’s great passion for coffee and competition flowing through his veins. I can only imagine how far he could go from here!
Photos courtesy of Michael CY Park, used with permission.