Build Up to SCASA Nationals: Barista Championship Finalists tell us about their prep

Friday, 27 January, 2023

The SCASA National Coffee Competitions will be happening in Johannesburg on 11 February 2023 and will bring together competitors from all over the country to try claim the titles. The Barista Championship competitors let us in on how their prep is going. Safe to safe everyone is super excited!!!

Caption for image above from left to right: Obakeng "Tiny" Tshabalala, Stevo Kuhn, Esther Bouwer, Fanie Botes, Trevor Fitz, JP Badenhorst - with sponsors Andre Muntingh (Ultimate Water) and Alessandro Morrico (Morrico Imports)

Tiny Tshabalala of TriBeCa Coffee has participated in the competitions in a supporting role for many years, either helping other competitors or being calibration barista, now it is Tiny's time to shine on the big stage. 

"Really excited to experience Finals again it has been too long, and it's even more exciting because I'm in the finals for the first time. . The prep is still in its messy parts, but that's what makes it so much fun that once comp day comes, it's going to feel like we've made a diamond out of the rough. Hope everyone's prep is going well!!"

Stevo Kuhn of Urban Brew Barista Academy is a seasoned competitor and in fact represented South Africa in Milan in 2021 as Winston deferred his place until last year in Melbourne. Not only is he competing but he has two other team members to support.

"I would say that I’ve had a slightly slower start to comp prep than usual. However, in my down time I’ve really been able to dig deep and ensure that I truly believe in what I say and do at competition, but also that I am in a good mental space with myself.

Our academy is buzzing with excitement and preparation for competition as Tumi and Retha are also prepping for their cup tasters sets. Fun times, educational times. 

Look forward to seeing everyone in Johannesburg!"

Esther Bouwer of Toro Coffee is representing the super coffee passionate town of Potchefstroom.

"It’s going well and steady!! Everyday we get closer to the competition my excitement is definitely growing and I’m expectant to see how everything comes together!"

Fanie Botes of Bluebird Coffee Roastery is laying it all on the line. One might call the individuals of Bluebird a little obsessive about coffee (and they would acknowledge and take this as a compliment!), so we're sure we can expect a detailed and fabulous set.

“In the lead up to nationals, the Bluebird team is excited. Our coffees are tasting great and the presentation is coming together nicely. We’ve found that when we prepare for barista competitions, we are in a state of constant learning and growing. Always open to new ideas and new innovations. I have had the privilege of engaging and learning from some incredibly knowledgeable professionals who are at the top of their game. This has allowed us to explore new ideas and open our minds to things we had never considered before. 
We are excited to share what we’ve learnt and we’re excited to share what we’ve been tasting.”

Trevor Fitz of Beethoven Coffee Company is no stranger to the stage, having come very close to winning the whole damn thing previously. 

"Comp prep is challenging as always! But we having a ton of fun experimenting to find the best combinations. So far it’s going well, we have found a few things that seem to be working. Just hoping to keep improving as we carry on! As always we keep adding and tweaking till the last day. Super excited for Finals Day!"

JP Badenhorst of Culture Coffee is a first timer in the Finals and is so excited to be part of this competitive coffee community.

"The year has started with a blast. Prep for National Finals is going good so far. I think it feels a lot more “stressful” as it’s so soon in the year. And there are so many aspects of what goes in to a set for National Finals, and the most important one being the coffee, it was quite a challenge to source and secure good coffee, but I think it’s all part of the whole journey. Lots of hard work and focus for 15min hey hahaha

If we love and focus on the journey, destinations will always become part of it, and this has been a great journey of learning, experimenting and growing so far. Looking forward to the now and what’s ahead."

Come cheer on the Finals Competitors on 11 February 2023 at Father Coffee, Johannesburg

Ed's note: It is a big commitment to put your hand up for these competitions and is a very expensive and time consuming endeavour. Winston Thomas recently contributed to an international industry article that unpacks the struggles of actually being crowned Champion.

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