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Coffee Hit First Time Competitor Wins MadCap Victorian Grand Barista Championship

Eighteen-year-old coffee ‘newcomer’ Andrew Page, from Coffee Hit cafe in Hawthorn, won his first ever coffee competition held last Tuesday and Wednesday at Westfield Shopping Centre, Fountain Gate; the MadCap Victorian Grand Barista Championship (VGBC).

Andrew, who has only been working as a barista for 12 months, whilst completing Year 12 at high school, literally walked in off the street and asked Coffee Hit owner and manager Troy Bereau if he had a job for him “making coffee”.

“He told me he had experience making coffee ‘at home‘ including roasting and sensing his passion I thought why not, let’s try him out”, says Troy, adding, “it’s a decision I’m happy to say that has certainly paid off!”

In fact, it was Troy who encouraged Andrew to compete in the first place, recognising his dedication and personality suited for competition.

Although he had less than a week to prepare, Andrew did everything he could to to help himself in a very short timeframe. He drew inspiration from visits to Axil and Proud Mary and was fortunate enough to get some coaching from Veneziano’s Erin Sampson, herself a previous Danes champion, who put him through some last minute, fast-paced competition training.

“I was also fortunate enough to sneak in some training with Erin, to get a handle on my presentation technique”, says Andrew.

According to Andrew, his coffee selection rested heavily on, “relying on the tasting notes and trusting the roaster!”

“Erin was fantastic,” says Andrew, “because I didn’t have much time she helped me select some coffee to try out and I liked the results so I ended up using it in the competition.”

In his final coffee selection, Andrew used Veneziano’s Bond Street seasonal blend in the espresso and milk based beverages, of which he was required to produce four of each, and an Ethiopian Sidamo single origin in a French press for his selected alternative brewing method.

It just so happens, that his coffee was roasted under the watchful eye of current Victorian Barista and Cup Tasting Champion, Craig Simon, who as Veneziano’s production manager oversees the roasting.

As the Victorian winner, Andrew receives sponsorship entry to the national Danes Grand Barista Championship to be held in Sydney in July.

“The competition was so much fun, I really enjoyed myself”, says Andrew, who didn’t experience any nerves during his presentation, “in fact, I actually enjoy presenting coffee to the public and thankfully I’ve had a bit of practice with public performances, which also helped”, he adds.

Andrew is a member of a choir and also has performed guitar solos at various venues.

Andrew is now competition psyched and is hoping to encourage a Coffee Hit entry in the Coffee Chain Challenge at Sydney’s Cafe Biz in March.

“I think the competition has really ignited in me a desire to learn everything I can about coffee, it’s amazing, but there is so much to learn”, say Andrew.

Despite commencing an engineering degree in product design this year, Andrew plans to keep himself in the coffee loop buy continuing to work at Coffee Hit in Hawthorn.

Also, he plans to use his VGBC winner’s cheque of $2,000 towards starting his own coffee cart business.