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2017 NZ Barista Championships Routine

Words by: Nico Refiti

2017 NZ Barista Championships Routine 19th August, 2017, L’affare Roastery, Wellington, New Zealand Presented by our very own, Nico Refiti, Barista Trainer and Client Manager.

(Salutations to the mana and the dignity of our gathering. I salute you the judges and fellow competitors. Welcome. My name is Nico George Faagugutau Refiti. I present this to you in thankfulness.)

“Today I’d like to talk about ritualisation in offering of celebration which I believe will add to our coffee culture. Ritualisation, in the form of ceremony and ritual, brings a shared understanding, experience and enjoyment of being together with others and is a useful tool to add reverence and respect to the coffee’s we choose to serve in this manner.

I’ll be incorporating a series of rituals throughout my routine today, each with a specific purpose and meaning.

Typically, rituals are passed down by tradition and culture and it’s difficult to just create meaningful rituals out of thin air, so I’ll be repurposing some existing rituals to suit my needs. For instance, I’ve chosen a beautiful flower arrangement for your table today in a kava bowl that was gifted to me by my father. In many cultures a flower arrangement is a symbol of a sacrificial offering as they have been cut from their roots and will soon die. The temporary nature of flowers reminds us of the ephemerality of the present and alerts us to the importance of treasuring the moments we share together. Understanding and sharing the intentional choice of something as simple as a flower arrangement gives greater meaning to the flower, to the service and additional respect to the coffee I will be serving today.

On a more technical side I’ve chosen to only grind beans that have been frozen in dry ice. The lower temperature of the beans causes them to shatter more upon grinding, leading to a more uniform particle distribution and decreased particle size. These two features in tandem, result in higher, more even extractions and more deliciousness in the cup!

For your espresso I’m serving a Washed Burundi. Flavours of pink grapefruit and raspberry tea. Initially syrupy in the mouth followed by juiciness. Medium high acidity and sweetness, with a crisp and mouth watering finish.

Borrowing from the kava ceremony of the Pacific, I’d like to incorporate the ritual of libation and offering in the kava ceremony as I serve you your espresso. I’ll present each cup in turn and when you’re ready to receive your cup, I’d like you to clap your hands once as a sign of respect. Then I’d like you to take the cup from me in your hands, complete your visual assessment and then wait until instructed before tasting.

Typically in a Samoan ‘ava ceremony, one must clap with cupped hands making a hollow sound. However, due to the nature of this service and the clipboards you’re holding I’m suggesting that you hold the board close to your chest with one hand and perform a clap palm to back of the hand.

Le Ikawa Muninya. Le Ikawa Muninya. Le Ikawa Muninya. Le Ikawa Muninya.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the big sweeping motion I’ve been making as I served your espresso. This is another ritual that is used in the Samoan ‘ava ceremony. A big sweep with the right hand is the correct etiquette when serving Ali’i Pa’ia, a high chief or other person of respect such as the Judges today. For a Tulafale, an orator or perhaps our MC’s today, I would serve with a backhand motion and then other subtler movements as we progress down the hierarchy. These motions again do not affect the flavour of the coffee but add beauty, intention and meaning to the service.

Please go ahead and taste now.

The coffee that I’m serving today was grown on a small hill in Burundi named Muninya. It has been hand picked and carried on foot to the Long Miles Bukeye Washing Station.

The washing station is owned by the Carlson’s, an expat American family who have settled in Burundi with the goal of producing exceptional coffee and relationships. To them, this coffee is more than just a beverage. It’s a story of the farmers who they must persuade to carry their coffee on foot to the washing station, instead of having the government trucks pick the beans up directly from the farm. It’s the struggle of running the washing station’s generators all night to process the cherries. The entire country is currently going through an extended fuel shortage and to make it through this year’s harvest, they drove weekly to neighbouring countries to bring back petrol.

It’s the seven months the Carlson family had to flee their home in Burundi due to the the coup d’état attempt that had bullets flying through the village in which their children attend the local school.

I believe that ceremonial ritualisation can transform this simple beverage into an artistic cultural experience and gives coffee the additional reverence and respect it deserves.

Next, I’ll be serving your milk beverage. For these I’ll be using the Muninya Hill coffee again but this time it has been naturally processed. The milk I’m using today is an un-pasteurised milk from a local farm in Taranaki – Beach Rd Milk Company. This milk is particularly seasonal, and due to the time of year is particularly creamy, rich and sweet.

In your milk beverage you will get flavours of Black Cherry, Roasted Almonds and Cadbury Roses Turkish Delight.

For my signature beverage I’ve chosen to pair the naturally processed Muninya Hill espresso with Koko Samoa. This Koko Samoa comes from my family’s village of Fasito’outa in Upolu and is cocoa beans that have been pan roasted, pulverised and brewed. I’m using 10ml of it today to give a beautiful base cocoa with a little bit of smoke and texture, as I’ve left in some of the cocoa fines. These base notes are highlighted by the bright acidity and black cherry of the espresso and all melded together with Raspberry Six Barrel Soda. I’m going to get you to complete the assembly of the drink by simply pouring the the Koko Samoa and espresso mixture into the flute as soon as we complete the final ritual. The carbonation of the soda with the particles in the espresso should cause it to foam up and create a beautiful creamy texture.

In a Samoan ‘ava ceremony, the guests are expected to perform a ritual of libation – to ceremonially pour out a bit of the liquid before drinking as an offering to god. I love this gesture as it adds to the art of coffee, particularly when we remove the religious aspect. So what I’d like to ask today is that you think of someone who’s not present here today. Someone that you wish you could share this experience with. Then together, let us perform the libation with our loved ones in mind.

Fa’afetai, Fa’afetai Lava. Soifua i le manuia.”