Coffee ain’t just coffee for Canberra’s Hugh Kelly, who placed fifth at the World Barista Championships in Seoul, South Korea at the weekend.
With a focus on research and development, the head of training and work in Quality Control at ONA Coffee pushed the boundaries throughout the competition, using different dosing and extraction techniques to achieve different flavours for the judges.
A highlight of his performance was the use of the “milk cloud” machine, which instead of heating and texturing milk through steam, uses induction-like technology to heat the milk while it is spun at a high speed, removing air bubbles and creating a unique texture.
In the final he competed against champions from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Hong Kong, with Briton Dale Harris taking the world crown.
A nine-year veteran of the industry and back-to-back Australian champion in 2016 and 2017, Mr Kelly trained under ONA managing director and 2015 world champion barista Sasa Sestic, whom he thanked for being an amazing mentor and giving him the opportunity to prepare for the championships without restrictions. He also thanked the team at ONA for supporting him.
He told the world championship organisers that the future of coffee was all about taste and flavour.
“I see systems allowing us to control coffee taste to a much higher and more consistent level. This is going to change the role of the barista to having a greater emphasis on palate development and communication,” Mr Kelly said.
He wants to share what he has learned at ONA Coffee and the rest of the industry with people in different markets.
His ONA colleagues congratulated him on social media after the final. “We are so proud of you, Hugh!!”