Excitement was in the air at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) as management embarked on a quest to find the best coffee brewer in the whole of the centre.
The inaugural GCCEC Best Barista competition was seeking someone who knew their crema from their bloom and their hopper from their doser. No insta-coffee wannabes were going to make the grade here.
Eleven hopefuls – including eventual winner Max Nicolic – were put to the test and set the task of creating an espresso, a cappuccino and a latte for four different judges who had a range of milk requirements that included full cream, skim, soy and almond.
They were judges from GCCEC who enjoy the odd Cup of Joe or two and know what they like – not necessarily why they like it. All that is, except Rod Kennedy who has the enviable title of Gold Coast Area Manager for market leading coffee bean company Vittoria Food & Beverage.
Rod knows the coffee journey from bean to cup inside out and he knows why a good coffee is a good coffee.
He said the standard and number of participants who entered the competition was a great show of enthusiastic and passionate GCCEC Baristas.
Rod was particularly impressed with English-born Max Nicolic who beat out 10 other hopefuls for the title of the inaugural GCCEC Best Barista.
“Max showed great pride a professionalism – he brought his own apron to look the part to deliver quality coffee,” he said.
“He spent time setting up, cleaning and organising his station in accordance with venue food and beverage standards.
“He also had great technique and procedure to deliver the products required in assessment.
“Overall, he demonstrated a strong understanding of the quality required – technique, service and confidence.”
Max honed his caffeine creating skills managing a café in south-east England and moved to Australia two years ago. He takes great pride in making coffee and said there IS a secret to making a good cuppa.
“It’s more methodical than just making coffee,” he said.
“The key thing about being a Barista is having the coffee beans as pure as possible. The production and process is what makes a good coffee. It’s the art behind it.”
Max’s now has the honour of wearing the inaugural GCCEC Best Barista badge and sharing his award-winning coffee with GCCEC delegates and visitors.