The 2015 Polish Barista Championship has come and gone, hosted at Sweet Fair in the city of Katowice, Poland over the first weekend in March. Fourteen baristas total competed, from which six finalists were selected—small numbers by American or UK standards, but typical for national competitions in continental Europe. As all the participants demonstrated remarkable skill, the scores were level, with the exception of eventual champion Agnieszka Rojewska, who was far ahead of the rest.
Rojewska will now move on to represent Poland at the 2015 World Barista Championship, held April 9th–12th in Seattle, Washington. The coffee she has chosen is from Rwanda, roasted by Kofi Brand, a specialty coffee roastery based in Warsaw. Rojewska has been exploring the world of coffee for seven years, and has been participating in the Polish championships since the beginning of her adventure. Currently, she divides her time between co-owning Brisman Kawowy Bar in Poznań and studying at the University of Economics, also in Poznań. What topic is she dealing with in her Ph.D. thesis? Coffee, of course.
Let's learn more about Agnieszka Rojewska's winning routine, and check out some of the other top competitors from Poland.
First place: Agnieszka Rojewska, Brisman Kawowy Bar, Poznań
Résumé: 2014 Polish Latte Art Champion; 2nd place in the 2014 Polish Barista Championship. Coffee: Rwanda Kamiro, Nyamagabe region, washed process. Roasted by: Kofi Brand, Warsaw, Poland.
Agnieszka Rojewska started this winning performance with her signature drink, an extraction of strawberries, cherries, lychee, and lemongrass in a syphon. Next she cooled down the mixture with dry ice, and poured it into frozen glasses. It looked marvelous!
For the espresso course, her Rwandan coffee yielded flavors of strawberries, cherries, fresh lychee, and marzipan, with a floral bouquet and green tea notes in the aroma. Raisins and nuts were the major flavors in her cappuccinos, for which the milk was frothed at a very low temperature to achieve creamy consistency.
And how's this for an attention grabber: Rojewska's customized wooden table mat, made by Royes Engineering.
Second place: Iza Otręba, Golden Fruit, Pszczyna.
Résumé: 5th place in the 2014 Polish Barista Championship. Coffee: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. Roasted by: Coffee Proficiency in Kraków.
Iza Otręba's routine had an interesting presentation, centered around coffea flowers, a blooming part of the coffee plant not typically enjoyed by coffee drinkers. She brewed some of these flowers (imported from Puerto Rico) just as you might brew tea, mixed with a 36-hour infusion syrup made from the flowers beforehand. This mixture was then combined with espresso to create her signature drink.
Elsewhere in the routine, Otręba's cappuccino was depicted as being extremely creamy, resembling a strawberry yogurt cake, due to the fact that she used a 4% milk.
Third place: Michał Knap Dam, Cafe: Green Caffè Nero, Warsaw.
Résumé: 2nd place in the 2010 Polish Barista Championship; 3rd place in the 2014 Polish Barista Championship. Coffee: El Salvador, Finca La Ilusion Natural Bourbon. Roasted by: Has Bean.
Another top finisher from Warsaw, and the only competitor in the top six to use a coffee roasted outside of Poland. In his espresso, Michał Knap Dam's coffee had flavors of strawberries and liquorice; perhaps owing to the natural processing, this espresso was billed as being rounded and full-bodied, and yet still clean.
Knap Dam described his cappuccinos as a strawberry milkshake with a buttery finish. These notes were echoed in his signature drink, which included strawberries, passionfruit, and molasses sugar.
Michał Jaworski, Kofeina 2.0, Opole.
Résumé: 2nd place in the 2014 Polish Coffee in Good Spirits competition; 3rd place in the 2013 Polish Coffee in Good Spirits competition; 1st place in Latte Art at Polish Pro-Infuzja Barista Challenge. Coffee: Colombia Huila Finca Tamana, washed process. Roasted by: Kofi Brand.
Michał Jaworski's signature drink was a combination of rosemary, juniper, and fresh orange juice, all gas-infused in a syphon. The cappuccino recipe included pasteurized, micro-filtered milk steamed at a low temperature, tasting of panna cotta with traces of almonds and oranges in the background. His espresso had a velvety body, with a sweet flavor of oranges and apples. The aftertaste was dominated by rosemary, with a long finish.
Absolutely beautiful stage settings in this routine!
Łukasz Tychoniec (aka Ambrozy), Brisman Kawowy Bar, Poznań.
Coffee: Costa Rica Finca Las Lajas, grown in volcanic soil, honey and natural processes. Roasted by: Coffee Proficiency.
Łukasz Tychoniec's espressos were astonishingly sweet and fruity, with a balanced acidity and aroma of plums. Still, it was the cappuccino that was his biggest surprise. Instead of using a steam wand, he brought warm milk in a vacuum flask and frothed it with a French press. As a result, the consistency of the milk was exceptionally creamy. Combining this technique with AeroPress coffee could be a great solution for the resourceful at-home barista!
The signature drink Tychoniec presented was based on a cascara extract from the same plantation as the coffee he used in the previous recipes. Tychoniec then added two types of honey to increase the sweetness and to add some floral flavor to the drink, along with green cardamom to make it more herbal and refreshing.
Sławek Saran, Forum, Warsaw.
Résumé: 6th place in the 2014 Polish Barista Championship; 1st place in the 2008 Polish Barista Championship. Coffee: three different types from Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Roasted By: CoffeeLab.
Sławek Saran's ‘Tonic Espresso’ signature drink was a kind of coffee soda, made by Saran with Kenyan coffee and a complex sparkling soda made with cinchona bark, cane sugar, lime peel, and water with increased magnesium content. The resulting beverage was rather acidic, with a red currant sweetness and wine-like aftertaste. A complex and intriguing drink!
Karolina Kosno is a coffee professional based in Warsaw, employed by Coffee Desk. This is her first feature for Sprudge.com.