There were four, then there were two. Then there was just one. That one is Agnieszka Rojewska, a freelance competitor from Poland, the 2018 Coffee Masters champion at the London Coffee Festival.
On paper, Rojewska was supposed to win. She’s a four time national latte art champion, has won national barista championships more times than I can count, and was a finalist at last year’s New York Coffee Masters. This was hers to win. On paper. (She may have even been the not-so-quiet pick of the Sprudge team.) But things never play out like they are supposed to. Rojewska had a self-described “rough” first round, placing her in the middle of the top eight cutoff at the end of the first day with a second, larger day still left to compete. But Rojewska held on to the sixth place spot, earning her way to the next round. And after that, it all went according to plan.
Rojewska first had to square off against Network Cafe’s Daniel Horbat in the semi-final round. She got off to a fast start by correctly reordering four out of six coffee cups—the highest score put down all weekend in the discipline—before putting up eight of 10 drinks in the Order round, one less than Horbat. But Rojewsak ultimately prevailed and made it into the Finals round to face Rob Clarijs of Dasawe Coffee Roasters and Beanspire.
In the Finals, Rojewska fell behind early to Clarijs after he successfully named the origins of two coffees on the cupping table to her zero. But with the Latte Art round—Rojewska’s best discipline going by her résumé—shortly to follow, she was still very much in it. And indeed, after taking a two to one victory in Latte Art, it call came down to the Signature Beverage round.
Rojewska’s winning drink was a take on a gin and tonic, using gin (of course), a tonic syrup—consisting of the zests of a lime, orang, and grapefruit, brown sugar, quinine aromatics, and cold water—and 150ml pour-over of her Ugandan coffee from the Mzungu Project and roasted by Gardelli Specialty Coffees, carbonated and then bottled. Judges would then pop open the bottle with their Palace Guard bottle openers, pour enjoy the provided glass, and enjoy.
Then came what may arguably the hardest part: the waiting. Rojewska and Clarijs had to sweat it out for some 30 minutes before the announcement was made. But once the name of the £5,000 prize check was revealed, there could be no mistaking that the winner was Agnieszka Rojewska.
It will thrilling to see Rojewska, a barista that we have personally seen on a World stage compete multiple times across a variety of events never to cross that ultimate finish line, finally hoist a much hard fought and well-deserve trophy over her head. On paper it was hers to win. But now it’s on carboard. A big check-sized piece, with “Agnieszka Rojewska” and “£5,000” written on it.
Sprudge Media Network’s coverage of the 2018 London Coffee Festival is supported by Cafe Imports, Acaia, Assembly Coffee, Oatly UK, Faema, and Loveramics.
Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network. All photos by Zac Cadwalader for Sprudge.
Much more coverage of the 2018 Coffee Masters tournament from London Coffee Festival is available at Sprudge Live.