Champion barista Erin Sampson heads up Veneziano’s barista training school

Veneziano’s barista training school will now be managed by veteran competition barista, Erin Sampson. Erin’s current role at Veneziano Coffee involves client liaison, barista training and development of clients’ barista teams, nurturing new barista competition talent, helping to create new coffee blends, exploring other ways of brewing coffee and introducing these to the café environment, as well as keeping on top of industry trends. Just back from maternity leave, Erin is excited to share her skills with others.

These coffee training courses will be run by ‘Barista Champions’ as Erin also engages the talent of Craig Simon and other qualified trainers for some of the course syllabi, to be conducted in the purpose built training facility at the First Pour in Bond Street, Abbotsford. Coffee training is also designed to be offered at First Pours Brisbane and Adelaide, to satisfy the needs of the coffee public and enthusiasts covering everyone from the complete novice, to home barista to the experienced barista wanting to move into the competition arena.

Barista coffee training courses available include: basic barista, advanced barista, latte art, competition preparation and home barista. Training for wholesale customers is tailored to suit their needs.

Home barista courses show you how to get the most out of your home coffee machine; regardless of the brand you can produce a good coffee. Bring your machine in with you or you’re welcome to use ours. Classes limited to six participants and you’ll receive lots of hands-on practice to maximise learning potential.

Check out the barista training courses in Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Adelaide here.


Erin Sampson: Is this Australia’s most awarded female barista?

Since starting her coffee career in 2006, Erin Sampson has been on an upward trajectory in this small but fast-evolving industry known as specialty coffee, having successfully represented Victoria and Australia in numerous barista and latte art competitions.

Before all of this, Erin had a strong case of the travel bug and spent four years travelling Europe and New Zealand. Like most people who’ve traveled extensively, Erin loves to jump on a plane and explore the world and her barista skills have given her the perfect way to combine her two great loves.

Upon returning to the ‘real’ world Erin couldn’t decide what she wanted to do, and not yet knowing what her real strengths were, she opted for hospitality and started working in a café. This was her first introduction to the art of coffee making, and now with a number of years experience behind her, Erin says, “…looking back, my first experience was not great!”

Erin’s next job happened to be with a Veneziano customer, Coffee HQ, which meant being trained by Veneziano’s baristas. It was through this exposure to Veneziano and their commitment to providing customers with a quality coffee experience, that Erin very quickly became addicted to the whole specialty coffee industry, igniting a desire to learn all she could.

The next important milestone in Erin’s career happened in 2007. This was her first ever participation in a barista competition, which just so happened to be the AASCA Victorian heats, in which she placed second – and only to David Makin (who went on to represent Australia in the World competition). She hasn’t stopped competing since.

It was not long after this she opened her own café, Primary, in Parkville, Melbourne. The long hours involved in running her own business meant she had to take a step back from competing in the barista competitions, which is how she discovered latte art. This newer form of competition highlights the barista’s skill in producing free pour art on the top of the cup.

This was a timely discovery of her artistic talents. Erin spent weeks practicing just one pattern to perfect it! She has done very well for herself in the latte art category, culminating in her becoming the Australian Latte Art Champion and then going on to third place in the world championships in 2009.

Erin Sampson, experienced competition barista, Latte Art Champion, head trainer at Veneziano Coffee RoastersFrom her early days as a casual barista at Flinders Street Station to her current role as customer relations manager at Veneziano Coffee, a Melbourne coffee roaster, Erin has been fortunate enough to be riding the third wave of coffee and taking every opportunity it has offered.

Not only has Erin been competing in many of the barista competitions and doing very well, she has also found that it enables her to travel and explore the world at the same time. Winning the Australian Latte Art championship in 2009 meant she won a trip to Germany to compete as Australia’s representative in the world competition.

As Erin says, “I have been fortunate that my boss (Craig Dickson at Veneziano Coffee) and I have the same philosophy on coffee; the more you know, the better you will be. This view is shared throughout the company with everyone being offered the chance to compete in competitions, participate in industry development and training as well as the opportunity to travel to countries of coffee origin.”

Erin is certainly the poster girl for this point of view. During her relatively short time in the industry, Erin has travelled extensively for both professional development and as part of winning Australian barista competitions. To date Erin has been to see the coffee scene in countries as diverse as Japan for the 2007 World Barista Championship and Germany in 2009 representing Australia in the World Latte Art Championship.

In 2010 Veneziano Coffee Roasters flew Erin to London to watch the World Barista Championship as a part of her preparation for 2011 and she was able to explore emerging coffee trends at the trade show held at the same time. Erin was impressed by the growth of the competition and the emergence of filter coffees in a competition that until now has focused on espresso coffee.

As Erin says, “From fairly humble beginnings 11 years ago, the WBC now has over 50 countries entering every year. The competition just goes from strength to strength and that can only be good for specialty coffee all over the world.”

Erin saw a great deal of filter coffee at the trade show and she used a filter coffee in her presentation to highlight the difference brewing methods can make to the coffee in the cup.

Early in 2011, partly due to her second placing in the Australian Barista Championship, Erin flew to Bogota, Colombia to the World Barista Championship and visited coffee plantations whilst there. Erin also visited the Hartmann’s coffee plantation, to see the coffee she used in the 2010 competition growing on the tree. She was lucky enough to sample the year’s crop and got a head start on choosing her coffees for 2011 round of barista competitions.

Erin’s current role at Veneziano Coffee involves client liaison, training and development of clients’ barista teams, nurturing new barista competition talent, helping to create new coffee blends, exploring other ways of brewing coffee and introducing these to the café environment, as well as keeping on top of industry trends.

As Erin says, “The Veneziano client must be able to offer what more sophisticated customers have been demanding; more information about the coffee they are drinking. And this goes beyond the so-called Fairtrade and organic coffees.

“I am now asked a lot of questions that just wouldn’t have been heard of even two years ago, such as; where is my coffee from? What harvesting and processing methods were used? How old were the green beans before they were roasted? Does the farmer earn a decent wage for the product he sells? Are the farming practices sustainable?

“And, whilst there are still people who just want to drink a great cup of coffee, now we are finding that there are customers are on the cusp of wanting to know what the different coffee growing regions can bring to the flavour we find in the cup”, continuing, “It is exciting to be part of an industry experiencing this amazing amount of growth with coffee drinkers taking it to a whole new level of interest, and I am so happy to be part of it.”


Erin’s Coffee accomplishments to date:

2nd –2007 AASCA Barista Championship (Victoria
2nd –2007 AASCA Australian Barista Championship Open Heats

1st –2008 AASCA Vic Latte Art Championship

1st –2009 AASCA Latte Art Championship (Victoria)
1st –2009 AASCA Australian Latte Art Championship
3rd –World Latte Art Championship (Germany)

1st –Danes Grand Barista Championship (Victoria)
3rd – Danes Grand Barista Championship (Australia)

2nd –2010 AASCA Barista Championship (Victoria)
2nd –2010 AASCA Australian Barista Championship