Matt Hellyer, of Evolution Cafe in Ballina, has won the areas inaugural Gun Barista competition. Matt has the right to challenge other gun baristas for a shot at the state titles.
Matt Hellyer, of Evolution Cafe in Ballina, has won the areas inaugural Gun Barista competition. Matt has the right to challenge other gun baristas for a shot at the state titles.

Gun baristas duel for award

THE BARISTAS of the Northern Rivers went head-to-head yesterday in the inaugural Gun Barista competition at Ballina.

Matt Hellyer from Evolution Cafe in Ballina took out first prize which now gives him the right to challenge any other Gun Barista in the state, and if successful, move on to the state and national titles.

Baristas travelled from Byron Bay, Lismore, Alstonville and Ballina cafes to compete.

About forty onlookers/addicts turned up to sample the brews and pick up tips from Australian coffee guru, Rob Forsyth, who is responsible for the Gun Barista concept.

Mr Forsyth has run the Australian Speciality Coffee Association and been a past World Barista Champion.

He now concentrates on the Gun Barista competition in Australia and furthering the culture of great coffee across the country.

The competition was streamed live on the internet – where it had already scored nearly 11,000 views by yesterday afternoon, and can be replayed at www.ustream.tv

As host, Mark Bullivant, explained the competition was developed to replicate the realistic fast-paced working conditions most baristas operate in on a daily basis – making speed as important as flavour and presentation.

The entrants have to make 14 different types of coffees in as little as five to eight minutes.

“Rob goes through all the rules and regulations as well as giving plenty of tutorials from his extensive hands-on experience,” Mr Bullivant said.

“Really it’s more fun than serious so newbie’s can still throw themselves in there without too much pressure.”

A unique aspect of the competition is the contestants judge each other which, according to Mr Bullivant, develops the barista’s own ability to rate coffee.

“I’ve been in the coffee business for 35 years and these days I grow and roast coffee, specialising in boutique, speciality coffees,” he said.

“We have a coffee lovers’ get-together here each Monday night and everyone is welcome.

“It’s an information and skill sharing night.”

With the Northern Rivers now boasting the most coffee plantations in Australia, and arguably some of the best cafes, it is no wonder the title is taking off.

Co-organiser Nick Muller, a barista from II Postino in Alstonville, was still buzzing yesterday afternoon.

“We’ll continue on and make it an annual event from here, or maybe even more than once a year,” he said.

“We also want to form a barista’s guild for those who want to further their skills.”



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