Matt from CMCR with Mel and Yong
Since the inaugural event in 2010, the Battle of Barista Championship (BOBC), created by Lighthouse Coffee, has been a key milestone in the landscape of Malaysian coffee competition.
Set amongst the beautiful beaches and colonial buildings of Penang, the BOBC allows competitors to gain invaluable experience in the lead up to the Malaysian Barista Championship (MBC), which is usually held towards the beginning of the year, whilst also providing an irresistible excuse to visit such a beautiful part of the world.
Penang’s specialty coffee scene is moving fast; taking a short stroll down one of the bustling, narrow streets of Georgetown, it’s easy to see how much potential the city has to become a regional destination for quality coffee, with such amazing architecture paired with a tropical climate and a never-ending supply of holiday makers and day-trippers. Already established are a number of coffee vendors like Constant Gardener Coffee and Spacebar Coffee, who are pushing their competitors and the market to keep pace with the other coffee hotspots in Malaysia, like Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Johor Bahru.
Regional competitions like the BOBC aim to bring specialty coffee out of Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital, to promote and cultivate collaboration between coffee professionals and the greater development of the industry in Malaysia – as well as some healthy competition. This year’s BOBC consisted of three separate competitions; the Battle of Barista event, based on the World Barista Championship rules; a Cup Tasters Championship; and, the newest event, the Team Latte Art Challenge, modeled on the World Richest Barista competition held earlier this year in Brisbane, Australia.
Out of the 20 participants competing in the BOBC, Common Man Coffee Roasters was fortunate enough to have two fantastic baristas using CMCR beans, with first-timer Yong from Departure Lounge, using the Tiga Raja single origin to highlight to substantial progress that Sumatran coffee production has made towards producing quality, specialty grade coffee. While Mel from Wanderlust, used the exceptional Lima Putri natural, also from the Tiga Raja mill, showcasing this fantastic example of the future of North Sumatran coffee production.
The first day of the competition had all 20 competitors in the action, with many a nervous tamp scrutinized by the three hovering technical judges and some creative signature beverages served up to the four sensory judges sitting in front of each participant. At the end of the first day, the competition was cut to just five remaining baristas, with Mel and Yong both making it through to the final round. As a competitor, the second day is all about how you handle pressure. The winner being the barista that makes the least number of mistakes while keeping their cool during the vital calibrating phase before the routine and during the execution of each round of beverages.
When the dust settled, Common Man Coffee Roasters had the pleasure of supplying a 3rd and 5th place finish, with Mel finishing amongst the medals, and Yong starting his competitive career off with a strong finish in the finalist group. Both Mel and Yong did CMCR and Tiga Raja Mill proud, heralding the new era in Sumatran coffee and introducing Malaysia to the notion that amazing coffee is now just next-door.
The Battle of Barista Championship in Penang, the café scene in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, and the quality of baristas coming from Johor Bahru are all clear indications that the Malaysian Specialty Coffee Industry is in good health and has some exciting years of growth and development ahead of it.