Tagged "Coffee Competition"

A Comp with Seoul...

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

Last month a few of the CMCR team packed their suitcases, jumped on the first flight to Seoul and headed over to the Café Show 2017 to find out what’s brewing in the Specialty Coffee world, as well as cheer on our national coffee heroes in the World AeroPress and World Barista Champs. Here’s a little run down of their top five and some words from both the Singapore and Malaysia AeroPress National Champs, on their experiences of competition on the national stage.

Number 5 – Coffee & Café Culture in Seoul/South Korea

The coffee culture, expectations and drinking habits in Seoul, and if we can be so bold, South Korea in general are quite different from Singapore, and perhaps from the rest of the world. Whilst corporate giants may have received a warm welcome, it’s the design-forward specialty coffee roasters that are really making the noise here.

Of all the cafes we visited on this trip our favourites followed the roastery, bakery, bar and retail space model – bringing a unique yet homely vibe to our drinking experience. Our faves where – Fritz, Mr Holms, Momos Café, Coffee Loves Him, Centre Coffee and Onions.We may also have eaten our body weigh in pastries…every day, been hitting the treadmill pretty hard since we got back to make up for this trip!

 Number 4 – Korean Food

Ok so not strictly coffee related but we couldn’t talk about our trip without mentioning the food!! Street food is a big part of Korean life – how sad would life be without an Eomuk Fish Cake stick? Or a steaming pot of topoki? And no trip to Korea would be complete without a plate of Korean Fried Chicken washed down with HITE. We could go on but it would make you too hungry…



Number 3 – New Gear & Beans

There was a great turn out to this year’s expo, with many local and international brands putting on such a good show with exciting booths and the launch of new products.

***Coffee geek moment alert*** we got to touch the Nuova Simonelli Mythos 2, La Marzocco LEVA machine (those levers!), the BKON Craft brewer and what really got us going, the Giesen W140A Roaster. This bad boy is able to roast 140kgs per batch – what a whopper! It was also a great to see Specialty Coffee in action with so many producers and farmers from different regions here to promote their green beans.










One of our particular favourites was the Panama booth where we met one of the Lamastus Family who produced our delicious El Burro and Luito Geisha beans. Get some before it’s all gone, we’re nearly down to the last bag. 

Number 2 – World Barista Champs

One of the main highlights of the expo was the World Barista Championships. Over 60 National Barista champs from around the world battled it out, pouring their way to the coveted title. After a nail biting competition, Dale Harris of Hasbean Coffee, UK was crowned king.

It was a great atmosphere and the guys from Ediya Coffee put on a great show, as did the MCs who made the event thrilling and full of excitement. It wasn’t Singapore’s year unfortunately, but there is always next! 

Number 1 – World AeroPress Champs

Two words…FREE BEER! But really, it was amazing to see the nations come together over coffee – as cliché as that sounds! It was a tight battle, with our local talents Hui Zhen Tan (Malaysian Champ) and Jerald Teng (Singapore Champ) putting up a good fight, but ultimately it was the Brits’ night with a wildcard entry for Paulina Miczka who pressed her way to gold. Loved the jumper Paulina!

And, that’s our wrap-up. We brought back many memories, widened stomachs and suitcases stuffed full amazing coffee which we’ll be drinking for weeks – Seoul you did a great job!

We’ll leave the last words to the two AreoPress Champs we took on the road with us, as they tell us what their biggest learning was from the whole experience:

Hui Zhen Tan: If there's one thing to take away from the experience, it is definitely that success does not come without hard work. I wished that I had practiced more before the competition! However, I can say with confidence that this competition is one of the best things that's ever happened in 2017. I’m a relatively inexperienced barista but I was encouraged to take the leap of faith and take part in the Nationals for Malaysia; it has made me realise that you should believe in yourself and don't be afraid to do things out of your comfort zone :D  

Jerald Teng: The biggest learning I’ve taken away from this experience is to see how I’ve grown as a coffee maker, it’s a real eye opening for me.

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Singapore AeroPress Championships 2017

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

What a weekend!

This year we we decided we wanted something bigger and better for the Singapore AeroPress Champs so we took it to Singapore Coffee Festival 2017.

Singapore AeroPress Champion 2017

Thirty-six contestants battled it out over nine rounds but only one could be the winner.

Singapore AeroPress Championships 2017

It was great to see so many home brewers stepping up this year with Jia Hao Koh making it through to the final along with Christian Alvarez of Jimmy Monkey and Jerald Teng of Nook & Cranny.

Singapore AeroPress Championships 2017

Our judges panel of coffee legends comprised of Marian Aguila of Cata Coffee, Terrance Tan of Santino Coffee Specialist, Siraj Salim of Dutch Colony Coffee Company, who also happens to the reigning Singapore AeroPress Champ, and head judge, Lisa Matthews of Leo & Lisa's Organic Coffee Farm.

Singapore AeroPress Champion 2017

It was a tense moment when it came down to the final three with each judge taking careful sips of the coffees before making their final decision but in the end each judge choosing had their favourite, leaving it down to the head judge, Lisa Matthews, to make the final decision, and the winner was.....

Singapore AeroPress Champion 2017

Jerald Teng of Nook& Cranny! Congratulations again!

Singapore AeroPress Champion 2017

Our home brewer finalist, Jia Hao Koh, took second whilst Christian Alvarez of Jimmy Monkey walked away with bronze. Can't wait to hear what happens at the World Championships in Seoul later this year!

Thanks again to the Singapore Coffee Festival team, SPH, our sponsors Marco, Acaia & AeroPress who all made this event possible!

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5 Reasons to Compete in a Barista Competition

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

With the Singapore National Championships just around the corner and our sponsorship of the Malaysian Brewers Cup last month, we thought it is the perfect time to reflect on why baristas, and enthusiasts, step up to compete in barista competitions.

Good luck to everyone competing next week especially Chin Woon Chan, Joshua Liew, Marissa Low, Nijo Neo and Lucky Salvador representing CMCR!

Lucky Salvador Competing in the Singapore Brewers Cup 2016

Lucky Salvador (our very own head trainer) competing in the Singapore Brewers Cup 2016.

This neat article from Patrik Karlsson and the folk at Perfect Daily Grind outlines some great perspectives on why you should take to the stage. Yes, it can be daunting, but there are many benefits to be had — none of which require you to take out 1st place. Check out the Singapore Coffee Association for the latest round up of championship and remember, whatever the outcome, the competitions are a bunch of fun with many opportunities to learn, meet other coffee obsessives and fuel up the inspiration tank!

5 Reasons to Compete in a Barista Competition

Four years ago, I knew nothing about coffee. Three years and eleven months ago, I took part in my first Barista Championship.

It all began with a barista in Four Barrel on Valencia Street, San Francisco. It was a sunny, chilly winter morning and, once again that week, I was queuing up to order a coffee. When I reached the counter, the barista mistook me for a fellow barista and asked, “Are you going to compete?”

Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about — but when he realised that, the barista was keen to tell me all about it, including the fact that amateurs could compete.

Soon afterwards, I got in touch with Matts W. Johnson, owner and founder of da Matteo in Gothenburg and, coincidentally, someone I had already been working with. All of a sudden, I found myself borrowing da Matteo’s lab early in the mornings before going to the office and late in the evenings after work. A Linnea classic, a Mazzer Robur, the Vallgatan espresso blend, and myself spent a lot of sweaty hours together. I went through all the mistakes you usually go through, like not knowing how the grinder worked, pressing the wrong buttons on the espresso machine, and sending milk all over the place. And then I competed.

Was I foolish? No. Naive? Maybe. Was it the right decision? Absolutely. And you should do it too.

Here’s why:

5 Reasons to Compete

  1. An Opportunity to Learn: Your coffee-making skills are going to be evaluated by several experts, who will give you structured feedback — how could you not learn?
  2. Branding, Branding, Branding: Even if you don’t have a brand yet, this will be the perfect opportunity to begin developing one.
  3. Networking: It’s a chance to gain an invaluable network of ambitious professionals.
  4. The Challenge: You will push yourself past the basics and challenge yourself to improve.
  5. Innovation: The constant striving to improve will see you create new concepts, new recipes, and maybe even new methods.

Does Winning Matter?

You’ll notice that not one of our five points mentioned winning, and that was for a reason. It may be a competition, but winning shouldn’t be the only goal — or even the most important one.

As with most people, I fail a lot more than I win, but that’s okay. For me, it’s been a way to benchmark myself with the industry leaders, network, and show the more experienced people in the industry that I have ambition and ideas. Competitions are about surrounding yourself with people whose grand ambitions and depth of knowledge will help you develop (just as much as all that practising does).

Of course, that’s not to say winning isn’t good — especially for businesses. There is, of course, something to be said for those organisations with competing individuals on their teams. St Ali & Sensory labDrop Coffee and Intelligentsia are all great examples of companies that have benefited a lot, not only from competing, but from having consistently placed really well over the years. This leads them to not only attract customers, but also the best baristas.

Then there are the winners of World Barista Championships who have, over the years, gone on to found some of the leading and most important companies in the industry. Take Tim Wendelboe and Coffee Collective. Competitions can be a start of something truly relevant and rewarding; they can also be a great way to build and strengthen a brand.

Yet even for the amateurs, without a brand or expertise, competitions are one of those things where you have very little to lose but everything to win. And who knows where it may take you?

Written by Patrik Rolf Karlsson, Head of Roastery at Five Elephant, Berlin and edited by T. Newton

This article was originally published on the Perfect Daily Grind website: Patrik Karlsson: 5 Reasons to Compete in a Barista Competition

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Singapore Aeropress Championships 2016

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

March saw Common Man Coffee Roasters host the Singapore Aeropress Championships 2016 with 27 home-brewers and baristas competing for an all expenses paid trip to represent Singapore in the Aeropress Finals in Dublin, Ireland.

The judges of the competition were Adrian Dart (5 Senses Coffee, Australia), Lucky Salvador (CMCR), Bronwen Serna (The New Black, Singapore) and Lee Jia Min (Nylon, Singapore). 

The evening kicked off with the competitors feverishly prepping the beans, throwing out defective ones as only perfect ones would make the cut. As Judge Bronwen commented, ‘Picking out the defective beans is what could make or break this competition, we’ll definitely be able to taste the difference’.

Whilst the inter-competition games such as Headpress and Blindpress (names pending patent...) debuted onto the coffee competition scene (sure to be seen again in the not too distant future), most competitors decided to play it straight.


‘I’ve decided to keep it real - this competition is all about the coffee and simplicity. You don’t need to get too fancy with it’ said Nabihan, a competitor and barista from Royz Et Vous Cafe.

At the end of the night, Siraj Salim from Dutch Colony was crowned the grand champion. Being overwhelmed by emotion, the champion broke into tears and shared a hug with his girlfriend; a truly touching moment for all to see.

‘I joined this competition because it’s a lot of fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but I’m totally speechless about my win! It was so unexpected; I can’t wait to go to the World Championships!’ said Siraj.

We look forward to following Siraj’s progress at the World Championships on the 23rd June 2016. Good luck and happy pressing Siraj!!

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This year's BOBC augurs a bright future for Malaysian Specialty Coffee

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

BOBC2015Matt 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.

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