Over the weekend, twelve incredible baristas performed in the 2016 UKBC Semi-Finals at the London Coffee Festival. The top six competed in an emotional and intense final round, and in the end? Only one could be crowned champion and sent off to compete on the world stage in Dublin, Ireland. And that person was Dan Fellows of Origin Coffee.
Dan Fellows of Origin Coffee performed a truly fantastical fifteen minutes of barista craftitude, pulling the clean sweep by winning Best Espresso, Best Milk Beverage, and Best Signature before being crowned the inevitable champ.
Using the Nekisse, a meticulously processed natural coffee grown between 1700 and 2000MASL in Ethiopia by Ninety Plus, Fellows brought a lot of fruit-forward vibrance to the stage. 12 days off roast, the heirloom varietal coffee had a medium-high clean sweetness, medium acidity reminiscent of blood orange, and a medium-low cacao bitterness that had notes of fresh strawberries, 60% dark chocolate truffle, a lingering tropical finish of passionfruit.
These flavors moved into strawberries and cream, milk chocolate truffle, and caramel as part of Fellows’ exactingly prepared 4:1 ratio milk beverage, made with 45°C milk. “I think it’s really important we approach our milk courses with the same precision and quality [as espresso],” Fellows told the judges.
For his signature beverage, Fellows capitalized on the tropical flavors inherent in the Nekisse. A brew of cacao, passion fruit, and freeze-dried strawberries was served with chilled espresso, caramel molasses, and cream, and finished off with the smoke of a passion fruit tea to enhance the aromatics.
Here are the top three from today’s event:
1. Dan Fellows – Origin Coffee
2. Dale Harris – Has Bean
3. Claire Wallace – Brew Lab
As we live-blogged, live-tweeted, Facebooked, and even Instagrammed this terrific program, we wondered to ourselves “who will it be?” During the finals, everyone performed with flawless grace and impeccable wonderment, with nary an overtime, spill, re-pull, drop, or slip-on-a-banana-peel-whoopsy-holding-their-tray-of-signature-drink-components in the bunch. The champion? Well, it could have been any one of these finalists.
But in the world of barista competitions, it really comes down to those crucial half-points what with those smallest of demitasse dripperies docked by the eagle eyes of the tech judges, or a flavor descriptor of apricot when it really should have been braised and caramelized pineapple notated by the sensory judges.
This was a tight race, and while Dan Fellows took home the prize and will be competing on the world stage in June, we wish everyone could’ve taken home the novelty sized tamper trophy. These finalists gave it their all, and it was truly a gift to witness. Well done, UKBC!
Zac Cadwalader and Zachary Carlsen contributed to this reporting.
Heaps more UK Barista Championship coverage is available on our sister site, SprudgeLive.com