Congratulations are in order for Ben Morrow of St. Ali in Melbourne, Australia, the winner of the 2016 Coffee Masters tournament at the London Coffee Festival.
Pitted against an august field of competitors from around the world, Morrow and his cohorts battled through a variety of disciplines, from signature drink creation to cupping challenges, busy cafe simulations to simple brewing presentations to a live latte art smackdown. Morrow drew Yuko Inoue of Timberyard Coffee in the final round, and as the competition reached its fever pitch, either competitor could have gone home with the title. But in the end, Morrow prevailed, claiming his second Coffee Masters championship title, a cash prize of £5000 (around $7100 US), and a trip to Italy with espresso machine sponsors Faema.
Multi-disciplinary and quick-paced, the Coffee Masters tournament benefits from a distinguished panel of judges, which as this year’s event included Ralf Rüller of The Barn Berlin, Anne Lunnell of Koppi, Andrew Tolley of Taylor St. Baristas, and 2012 World Barista Champion Raul Rodas. Coffee Masters was MC’d by 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies, Vic Frankowski, and Sprudge co-founder Jordan Michelman.
This competition, created by Allegra Events and DunneFrankowski, benefitted from a remarkable field of sponsors, including Faema, Brita, Acaia, Mork Chocolate, Mahlkonig, Bonavita, Alpro, and more. All of the coffee roasted at the Coffee Masters was supplied courtesy of Caravan Coffee Roasters—dubbed “The Niners” series, the provenance of these coffees were kept secret until the final day of the tournament, before the big reveal on Sunday afternoon. Read more about these Niners coffees here via Caravan.
With the dust settled following his big win, we sat down digitally with Ben Morrow to talk about his experience at the 2016 Coffee Masters.
So you’ve won the Coffee Masters…again, this time in London. Describe your emotions in the moment of triumph!
Ben Morrow: I was elated! I just came off the back of competing in the world latte art championship in Shanghai. I never would have thought I would make top 6 there and take this too. So, yeah it was, I think, the best win I’ve ever taken.
No man can claim victory alone—whom would you like to thank for this win?
My lovely girlfriend who supports me through all this. The St. Ali family and Sensory Lab group, who support me all the way through these comps I compete in, and who are also the best team and people who could I hope to have helping me.
Please tell us about your signature drink: what are its ingredients, recipes, and name? What inspired it? How does it taste?
The drink is called Fluidum Vitale, which I took from the book Perfume. The idea was to try and create a drink that transports the guest to the plantation itself. I was using the Colombian company La Esperenza La Granja‘s coffee, both the Cerro Azul and Buenos Aieres which are absolutely stunning with notes of honey, tea and peaches.
I soaked a peach in an espresso and honey solution first, which I used as a vessel to carry notes of the espresso into the glass. I then brewed the Cerro Azul as a Hario V60 and added it to the glasses. Lastly, one of the things that makes the Cerro Azul plantation so beautiful is a late evening coastal fog that rolls in every evening (it also helps with the maturation of their coffee). So I made my own fog out of a seaweed brew and dry ice. And that sat in the glass cold on top.
So what you have in the end is this cool mist that smells like the sea, as if you were there in the evening. You blow away the mist and get an intense aroma of peach and honey. In the cup it was round, sweet, peach and tea coffee.
What do you plan to do with your 5000 pound purse? [Laughs] Well, I have plans to move to Europe with my lovely partner. So tickets have been bought. Aaaaaand wine…lots of wine.❤️❤️❤️
Will you be back again to compete at another edition of the Masters?
Maaaybe if they hold it in Australia. But for now I think I’m going to take a little break from it.
A huge congratulations from all of us at Sprudge, Ben!
Sprudge.com is a proud media partner of the Coffee Masters Tournament, which will return again at the 2016 New York Coffee Festival this fall. Stay tuned to Sprudge for entry information, and explore more in our Coffee Masters archives.
All photos courtesy by Gary Handley, courtesy Coffee Masters & Allegra Events.