David Teguh Kurniawan wins Vitasoy Northern Region Barista Championship

David Teguh Kurniawan has won his first barista competition and is now the 2022 Vitasoy Northern Region Barista Champion.

The Brisbane café owner went all the way on his first attempt, claiming glory and is now a worthy contender at this year’s National Barista Championship.

“I still can’t believe I did it,” David says. “After I had finished my routine, I got the feeling that I had done everything wrong, but I knew I had the support of a lot of people who had helped me get through it.”

Marco Mak placed runner up in the competition, which took place from 23 to 24 April at Archer Specialty Coffee in Chermside, Queensland.

David credits mentors such as Ona Coffee’s Hany Ezzat who encouraged David to enter the competition in the first place, and Fabian Fritz who trained and supplied him with equipment, care and coffee.

“Hany really pushed me to enter. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, but he believed I could do it,” David says. “The coffee I used from Ona Coffee had been put aside for Fabian who pulled out when he became a new dad, so I had the coffee ready to go, I just needed to execute a routine.”

That was easier said than done, with David contracting COVID during his competition preparation, forcing him to isolate at home and battle fatigue, with only a domestic espresso machine to practice on.

“Initially I regretted entering the competition, but then I realised I could make the most of the situation, and I had a professional grinder brought to my home to use with my Breville espresso machine,” David says.

His persistence paid off. At the Northern Region Championship, David presented the judges with a routine that highlighted his love for the coffee industry and his desire to introduce the potential of espresso coffee to new audiences.

For his espressos, David used a Diamond profile coffee that had undergone carbonic macerated washed process from the Konga region of Ethiopia. The coffee sourced from Ona Coffee had been fermented for five days to help retain the natural flavours of the varietal.

“I loved this coffee before I competed with it. When I first tried it, it was mind blowing,” David says. “In the cup it starts off with peach, mandarin and honey notes with a camomile-tea finish. It has tartaric acid like white grape, and is a very delicate coffee,” David says.

For his milk-based coffees, David used a Kenyan coffee from Maguta Coffee Estate, paired with Riverina Fresh, the official Milk Partner of the competition.

“What’s special about this coffee, is that it contains non-Saccharomyces yeast for fermentation. Usually with Kenyan coffees you can get an umami flavour which isn’t great for milk-based coffees, but with this one, the fermentation removes the bitterness and the result is a more flavourful and clean cup,” David says.

“When I went to the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in 2014, I remember tasting this coffee with a strong strawberry flavour. It opened my eyes to a world of flavours I never knew existed. So, for my routine, I wanted to share the same idea with the judges, and have them enjoy a milk-based coffee that tasted almost like a fruity milkshake. I want to open people’s minds to flavour possibilities, even with milk-based coffees.”

The key with this milk-based espresso, David says, was to have it start familiar in the cup, with notes of milk chocolate, then as it cools, it develops into flavours like strawberry milk with white chocolate.

For his signature beverage, David championed his espresso coffee, with the idea to help make espresso more approachable to customers.

“Most people in Queensland still don’t drink espresso yet, but I wanted to show the judges that with my signature drink, it could be a great way to transition them into appreciating espresso coffee,” he says.

To his espresso coffee, David combined three key fruits that were high in acidity: fermented black plum for viscosity, red plum which he sous vided for three hours, and papaya, which was meant to be frozen but by the time David used it on stage, had transitioned into a papaya puree to his disappointment.

“My goal was to show how flavour and aroma can be perceived. People assess a drink first on texture and mouthfeel. If they enjoy it, they take a second sip, and that’s what I hope that would do with my signature drink,” he says.

The end result was a creamy concoction that resembled the texture of camomile tea, using only natural fruit juices. It had notes of creamy pineapple, grilled pineapple, and apricot.

Exhausted from a big weekend of competition, there was no rest for the wicked with David back to work on Anzac Day managing his three Brisbane venues: Cups and Wells, Cups on Melbourne, and Cups on Wellington.

“There’s lots to improve on to get to the next step, but I’m already looking forward to nationals,” he says.

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