There really was a lot going on at the 2014 Melbourne International Coffee Expo. In addition to covering major global coffee events like the World Latte Art Championships, World Coffee In Good Spirits Championships, and World Cup Tasters Championships, we also managed to peel off Twitter and photo coverage from the weekend's Australian national events: the Australian Brewers Cup and Australian Barista Championship. It was, as you might imagine, a whole situation.
We've got content in the works from the barista event–won by Craig Simon of Think Tank Coffee–but today let's take a closer look at Devin Loong of Auction Rooms in Melbourne, your 2014 Australian Brewers Cup Champion. Mr. Loong's big win earned him flights and nights in Rimini, Italy, where he'll represent the filter dreams of the nation of Australia at the 2014 World Brewers Cup.
We caught up with Devin Loong in the wake of his glory for a quick interview on the techniques and coffee he used, the recipe for his winning brew, and the future of brewed coffee in Australia. Photos for this feature are by Eileen Kenny, and include Mr. Loong's big winning moment at MICE, plus some shots of him enjoying the scene outside Auction Rooms on a lovely fall day.
Devin Loong, you've just won the Australian Brewers Cup! What are you going to do next?
Spend some time with my family, then start working on a new coffee, brew method and routine for the Worlds.
What coffee did you compete with at Brewers Cup? Please tell us a bit more about it.
I used a fully washed Geisha from Finca Manantiales Del Frontino in Valle del Cauca, Caicedonia, Colombia, produced by Colombia Mountain Coffee and roasted by Small Batch Roasting Co.
My brew method highlighted the delicate floral aromatics of bergamot and jasmine, that blossoms into a complex tropical fruit basket of sweet melons, canned lychees and dried paw paw with a dark honeycomb sweetness. The acidity of candied lemon-lime with a smooth clean finish and a hint of refined icing sugar.
I picked this coffee because its extraordinarily balanced and really reminded me of the first filter coffee I had which was also a Geisha about 3 years ago. That started me on my journey through specialty coffee.
What brewing method did you employ in your routine, and why?
Here's my recipe:
250 grams of water at 98 degrees.
Pour 50 grams of water, then bloom agitate.
At 30 seconds, fill Hario V60 to 250 grams of water.
Light stir and tap.
Finish extraction at 1.30.
What advice do you have for future Australian Brewers Cup competitors?
Start with the best coffee you can get your hands on then decide what you want to highlight most. Try every brew method imaginable until you find what you're looking for.
Where do you think the Brewers Cup in Australia will be at in 5 years? What does the Brewers Cup tell us about the state of filter coffee in Australia right now?
I think in 5 years the Brewers Cup in Australia will be of a higher caliber, as we continue to strive for even better brews in our industry and as great coffee becomes more accessible to everyone, the competition will be a lot tougher.
The Brewers Cup shows us the potential of growth for filter coffee in Australia, as more and more people appreciate coffee brewed so simply, just by adding hot water to truly showcase the delicate notes of coffee in its most raw form. I believe as the appreciation of filter coffee grows so will the popularity of the Brewers Cup in Australia. Hopefully one day we will sell as many filter coffee as espresso-based drinks.
What does it mean for you to represent Australia at the World Brewers Cup this year in Rimini, Italy?
It will mean the world to me (pun intended). It will be a great honour and a dream to bring home the cup.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank in print on Sprudge?
I would like to thank my team at Small Batch Roasting Co.–Andrew Kelly, Aaron Wood and our head roaster Allan Huang, and my fellow barista Michael Sinclair who challenged me at every turn. My wife Hennley Sah and my son Alexander Loong my smallest biggest fan, for always believing in me.
Congratulations, Devin Loong! And we'll see you at the 2014 World Brewers Cup Championship in Rimini, Italy.
Photos by Eileen P. Kenny for Sprudge.com.