Jade Jennings, Victoria’s reigning Barista Champion

Victoria’s 2016 Barista Champion, Jade Jennings holds onto the title after the Southern Region Barista Championship over the weekend.

The Australian Specialty Coffee Association hosted the regional coffee competitions at Maillard Atelier in Coburg North which saw 11 Barista competitors from Victoria and Tasmania battle it out for the title of the Southern Region Barista Champion.

2016’s top three competitors took out the top three places once again this year. In second and third place was Matthew Lewin and Anthony Douglas respectively, from Axil Coffee Roasters. Veneziano Coffee Roasters’ very own Training & Development Manager, Jade Jennings took home first place.

Jade’s routine was all about showcasing Rwandan coffee and demonstrating the incredible progress they’ve made in the past twenty years.

After placing second in the National Championships at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, 17 – 19th March 2016, Jade travelled to Rwanda where she met Epiphanie Mukashyaka of BUF café, and sourced her winning coffee. On this trip she also met brothers Gadz and Karthick from Maruho and was inspired by their journey and the things they were doing to elevate specialty coffee in Rwanda.

Just as Maruho finished it’s first season of production, Gadz and Karthick sought permission from the coffee board to produce the first ever legal naturally processed coffee from Rwanda. Initially they were shut down but they persisted and were granted approval. Jade’s milk course showcased this Natural Rwandan Kilimbi. It was the first time the judges had ever tasted a naturally processed coffee from Rwanda. Jade’s Kilimbi tasted like a strawberry sundae.

Her signature course was somewhat of a science experiment with dry ice to capture the cascara fruit aroma, fruit infusions and a coil condenser to chill her espresso to enhance the body. The concept was an amalgamation of both the traditional washed and the innovative natural as a celebration of the exciting times ahead for Rwandan coffee.

Jade thanks the incredible team behind her for her success, including former UK Barista Champion John Gordon, former WBC champion Pete Licata, Holly Bastin and the crew at Veneziano Coffee Roasters.

Lex Clayman, barista at Brunswick St Alimentari competed for his first time alongside Jade at the weekend and placed in the top 6.

In the Brewers Cup, Veneziano Business Development Manager, Jamie Thomson placed 4th in what was the most popular event of the weekend. There were 13 competitors in total from Veneziano, Small Batch, Maker, Dukes, Proud Mary and Maillard Atelier.

The premise of Jamie’s routine was making filter coffee accessible to the regular consumer. He believes we should be focusing on fresh crop and sustainably grown coffee. He used a coffee that is currently available on Veneziano’s website, and from a farm that their green bean buyers recently travelled to. The Colombia El Vergel is an approachable coffee for the general coffee drinker, but has a great nuance and flavour for the more seasoned drinker.

Veneziano customer Aaron Dongsu Shin, Short Black Café, took home first place in his first ever Southern Region Latte Art Championship.

Veneziano’s Jason Millar, Gareth Maddock and Jade Jennings also competed in the Cup Tasters Championship and Jack Allisey judged

The winning competitors from all states will be competing in the National Championships held at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in Melbourne March 30 – April 1, 2017 at the Melbourne Showgrounds. The winners in the respective competitions will go onto to represent Australia in the world championships.

Jade and Jamie’s competition coffees are available for purchase from Veneziano for a limited time:

Rwanda Kilimbi

Rwanda Muduha

Colombia El Vergel