DISCOUNT on Q Arabica Combo Course, Exam and Retakes May 13 2019

SCASA members receive a R1000 discount on the upcoming Q Arabica Combo Course, 22-27 July.
This six day training and exam to be held at Sevenoaks Lab in Randburg, South Africa, by certified Q-grader instructor, Mbula Musau. The first three days are dedicated to intensive training and the last three are reserved for taking the exams.

There will also be re-take exams for students who are already on the journey to becoming certified Q-Graders.

Cost: R32,000 per student and caters for training, exams, classroom materials, lunch, coffee breaks, administration and CQI fees.

Exam re-takers cost: R3,600 per student

Class Commences at 08:30 AM and finishes at 05:00 PM

Contact for more information.

Limited space available!

But, let's examine more. What role does Q-Graders play in the coffee industry (as outlined by Mbula Musua)

The Q Grading System is an internationally recognized protocol for evaluating coffee quality. Developed by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), the program implements industry-recognized standards for quality, both cup and grade, and is a highly effective method for identifying coffees that sell for premiums in the marketplace. The standards, developed by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), define specialty coffee as having a minimum cup score of 80 points out of a possible 100 and no primary defects. These include green coffee defects that have a big negative impact on the cup quality as well as roasted defects (quakers).

One of the goals of the CQI Q Grader Program is to create a skilled and credible body of specialty coffee cuppers to consistently and accurately assess coffee quality, both cup and grade. Those coffees that meet the minimum requirements of a Q Coffee receive a Q certificate that can travel with the coffee as it is sold through the channel, verifying the quality for subsequent buyers and allowing end-users to know where the coffee originated. Regardless of the quality, a technical report is issued so the farmer will receive feedback that can be used for future quality improvements.   This allows the seller to maximize his sale price, better identify customer targets, and offer a differentiated set of coffees. The seller also has a tangible measure of quality with which to identify the most appropriate markets and buyers.

The process of generating Q Certificates and Technical reports for coffee samples involves working with certified Q Graders. These are cuppers who are trained and certified by CQI to identify quality levels of coffee lots and classify them into non-exportable and exportable lots. The exportable coffee lots are further classified into specialty and non-specialty, based on cup quality, green bean quality and roasted bean quality. Specialty coffees potentially fetch price premiums. The process involves identifying attributes of basic flavors, detection of defects, awarding points objectively and understanding how to describe the cup profile of a coffee. In addition to identification and analysis of coffee qualities, Q Graders are trained to speak the common language of coffee with buyers by using SCA standards, and to be in calibration with like-trained Q Grader buyers.

The Q Grading Services requires 3 Licensed Q Graders to evaluate the Green and Roasted Samples and log defects onto a standardized form, evaluate the Cup using the standardized SCA form and protocols through a process known as “cupping” and finally document and deliver reports and results to CQI’s In Country Partner.

The ability to grade a coffee accurately assists the supply chain through providing feedback to the farmer to identify where quality improvements could be made and advising management about lot separation and/or blending which leads to higher average prices.

The biggest advantage the Q Grading System provides is the ability to identify quality coffees and to make that quality known throughout the value chain. This is where one of the main values of cupper training lies; by utilizing skilled cuppers, a producer has a better chance of identifying these coffees. By training cuppers at the farm and mill level, quality coffees can be identified before they are blended. Instead of earning flat rates for cherries, a producer will have the knowledge to know which coffees should be tendered to the C-market and which coffees may be held back for Q Grading. It does not stop there, at each link in the chain, there is an opportunity to use quality as a tool to achieve greater value, because of a deeper understanding of coffee from farm to cup.

The other key role a Licensed Q Grader plays is supporting the Q Grading System, ensuring that integrity is maintained and it continues as value-added service for buyers.

A licensed Q Grader also contributes significantly to market linkages. Because the Q is an internationally recognized and respected standard, there is growing demand from buyers for Q Coffees. The Q Grading System provides an opportunity to reach new customers who are seeking higher value differentiated coffees. While there are some customers who may want commodity coffees at commodity prices, more and more coffee roasters are seeking differentiated coffees and are willing to pay significant premiums for those coffees.

The supply of Specialty Grades is likely to be insufficient to meet the demand in the coming days, judging by the growth of the specialty coffee sector and progression from the first, second and third waves of coffee around the world. The Q enables the identification of specialty lots that may have otherwise been blended into premium or commercial grades. Additionally, many premium grades can be brought into the specialty realm if there is constructive feedback on a regular basis from Q graders. Defect and taint can be eliminated, and the nuance that can fetch a greater differential can be fostered/created/explored as a real option for a farmer or mill.

There are currently around 5,560 Q Arabica graders and 223 Q Robusta Graders in the world. Majority of these are found in the consuming end of the value chain, the roasters, importers and wholesaler / retailers. Given the importance of realizing quality along the entire value chain, there is a need to increase the numbers at countries of coffee production, from farm level, processing and exporter level to ensure the goal of identifying and rewarding high quality coffees is achieved.

Utake Coffee Limited is the first SCA certified Premier Teaching Campus with a licensed Q Grader Instructor in Africa. Our vision is to impact the face of the coffee sector, one expert at a time. We specialize in Coffee Quality Training, Marketing, Research Consultancy and Development Management. We are based in Africa, and travel around the world delivering world class services and participating in strategic coffee sector development agenda for the region. We do this through collaborating with organizations and institutions around the world that work in related areas, including the Coffee Quality Institute, (CQI) - USA.

Counting Down to WOC Berlin with Latte Art Champion Christopher Abrahams May 13 2019

The World Latte Art Championship highlights artistic expression in a competition platform that challenges the barista in an on-demand performance.

For the preliminary round of the championship, baristas produce a single creative latte pattern at the Art Bar, then move to the WLAC stage to create two identical free-pour lattes and two identical designer lattes (which allow etching and decoration). Scores from the Art Bar and Stage are combined, and the top 12 qualify for the semi-final round, where competitors make two matching sets of different free-pour latte patterns, and one matching set of free-pour macchiatos. The top six semi-finals competitors qualify for the final round, where competitors make two different matching sets of free-pour latte patterns, and one matching set of designer lattes. The top-scoring competitor in the final round is declared the World Latte Art Champion.

Baristas are judged based on visual attributes, creativity, identical patterns in the pairs, contrast in patterns, and overall performance.

(Christopher Abrahams with SCASA chairman, Bernard Muneri)

Thabang Klainbaas Maluleka and Christopher Abrahams (both from Ciro Full Service Beverage Co.) will be representing South Africa in the World Cup Tasters Championship and the World Latte Art Championship respectively, happening 6-8 June in Berlin.

The 2019 Berlin World Coffee Championships will also feature South Africa's Christopher Abrahams, competing in the Latte Art World Championship, more on Christopher's preparations to follow.

Both Christopher and Thabang's disciplines start on Thursday 6 June between 09:30 and 16:30 with LIVE streaming covered by World Coffee Events (more updates on their sets to follow).

We sat down with national Latte Art champion Christopher Abrahams to hear how his preparations were going for worlds.

How has your preparations been going for Berlin thus far? And is it different to how you prepared for Nationals?
My preparation hasn’t being going as great as I’d like it to, but things are looking positive. I’m definitely preparing more than I did for Nationals. Currently, I’m practicing for 2 hours a day and I’ll be doing 4 hours a day from this week onwards. I have also been quite fortunate, having a huge amount of support from Ciro Beverage Solutions! It truly is a privilege! I am truly grateful and would like to say thank you to Lani Snyman, Paul Hanlon, Darragh Brown and a special thank you to Johan Gobbelaar, who has kept me motivated to strive for excellence!

When do you leave and what creature comforts will you be taking with you to Germany?
I leave with the Ciro team on the 3rd of June. I find a lot of comfort through prayer and a certain genre of music. It allows me to relax and forget about any hint of stress and pressure that I may be experiencing.

What extra magic can we expect from Christopher Abrahams at the World Latte Art Championship? Have you been doing extra or different training?
I must be honest, I cannot say that I’ll be doing anything spectacular on the world stage. There are very few occasions where a competitor feels like they’ll be doing something truly amazing on stage. Spending months doing the same routine, may become a bit monotonous at times. Although, as time passes, a few small things arise, which allow us to improve every little detail. This usually generates a bit of comfort, causing one to realise that he or she is becoming just a few steps closer and closer to perfection. I will, however, say that my performance should be a lot better and that I will be giving it my all in hope of success! I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on a few dragging techniques. It’s not an easy thing to perfect, especially when the design is details. The dragging technique is usually applied to get the design to look as realistic as possible, without the use of etching tool. So, it requires endless hours of practice, while continuously working with different milk brands. I am really excited to see what the outcome is going to be and my main objective is to have a good time on stage, while achieving what I’ve practiced.

Who are you looking forward to seeing and meeting in Berlin?
I’m really looking forward to seeing a few of my friends who competed with me the previous year in Brazil. It is always good to catch up and to continue learning from each other.

What are you looking forward to pouring at Worlds? Or which part of the Championships (routine) are you looking forward to the most?
I’m really looking forward to every moment that I’ll have to pour latte art. The free pour designs are always tricky, so perfecting them on the day of my performance, would be amazing! It is such a fun and exciting experience, pouring latte art. There is the opening line that helps one get momentum, followed by the “first pour”. Your heart rate slowly begins to drop and the anxiety begins to subside. Once you’ve passed this period, everything usually flows and most of the time, in my case… I tend to forget about the entire performance, until the moment I raise my hand and say “time!”

Tell us a bit more about your coaches or mentors, who are they and what have they been helping you with?
I don’t have any coaches at this point. I have been receiving some guidance from Alhenrico Thomas and Byron Keet (previous SA Latte Art Champions), which has been great! I’ve also received a few tips from the previous Dutch latte art champion, Anouk, which is amazing! Allowing me to see things from a global perspective. Other than that, I have no actual couch. I prefer working on my own, and feel that I’ve been more successful doing so, with the little bit of advice from others. The support and advice from my wife, Shannon Millar Abrahams, has been phenomenal! She is my toughest critic, but seems to be quite accurate with her judgement and continues to be my biggest fan.

You’ve competed at Worlds before, how is it different this time round?
I’ve been putting more effort into this year’s preparation, so I’m feeling a lot more confident. I am not too focussed on placing at a specific ranking, but I’m purely focussed on perfecting what I plan to do on stage. I hope to build on that and will see where it gets me in the future.

As you know anything can happen on the day, but what would you do if you won the World Latte Art Championship?
Hahahaha I must be honest, it is a bit “Far Fetched”, but would be great! J It would be an honour….I cannot actually tell you what I’d do for sure, but it be a great opportunity to travel and teach people about latte art. Winning a world latter art championship would be amazing, but I know that I’m not ready to reach that point yet. I believe that it would take me at least another 3-5 years to get to that level.

The best advice received thus far going into a competition of this magnitude?
The best advice, is always to love what you do, live it, eat it, sleep, believe in it and the rest will follow. I feel that the minute you’re competing or doing anything else for that matter, on a more competitive level, we, as humans, tend to generate unnecessary pressure on ourselves, often forgetting the importance of passion and purpose. There will always be a certain goal or objective, but once, we’re able to forget about expectation, things usually fall into place.

The best of luck Christopher, South Africa is behind you! Any message you would like to give to your supporters?
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who will be supporting me. It really means a lot to me. There are so many latte artists, who are blessed with amazing creative talents in South Africa, and I am privileged to have the opportunity of not only representing South Africa, but also representing them! Therefore, I will be doing the very best that I can to make you all proud as South Africans within the Coffee industry!

Photos: The Coffee Magazine

Counting Down to WOC Berlin with Cup Tasting Champion Thabang Maluleka May 10 2019

This year’s World of Coffee is also the venue for the prestigious World Coffee Events: the 2019 Championships for World Latte Art, World Coffee In Good Spirits, World Cup Tasters and the Cezve/Ibrik Championship. South Africa's Thabang Maluleka (from Ciro Full Service Beverage Co.) who surprised at February's National Coffee Championships in Balito, will be representing South Africa 6-8 June in Berlin.

(Thabang Maluleka with SCASA Chairman, Bernard Muneri)

The World Cup Tasters Championship awards the professional coffee cupper who demonstrates speed, skill, and accuracy in distinguishing the taste differences in specialty coffees.

Coffees of the world have many distinct taste characteristics and in this competition format the objective is for the cupper to discriminate between the different coffees. Three cups are placed in a triangle, with 2 cups being identical coffees and one cup being a different coffee. Using skills of smell, taste, attention and experience, the cupper will identify the odd cup in the triangle as quickly as they can. A total of 8 triangles are placed in each round. The top 8 competitors with the most correct answers and the fastest time proceed to the next Semi-Finals round. Then the top 4 will compete again in the Finals round to determine the next World Cup Tasters Champion.

The 2019 Berlin World Coffee Championships will also feature South Africa's Christopher Abrahams, competing in the Latte Art World Championship, more on Christopher's preparations to follow.

Both Christopher and Thabang's disciplines start on Thursday 6 June between 09:30 and 16:30 with LIVE streaming covered by World Coffee Events (more updates on their sets to follow).  

SCASA sat down with Thabang to hear how things were going for the World Championships.

How has your preparations been going for Berlin thus far? And is it different to how you prepared for Nationals?
I am not necessarily doing anything different, the difference is the frequency of my cupping and the amount of cups that I taste. My strategy has always been to try and get the slightest difference in any cup, this can be the same sample of coffee at different temperatures, the same origin/blend roasted with long roast compared to short roast, different origins, different blends, same origin/blend with different water to coffee ratio. I am privileged that I have a scientific background so anything that I think can affect taste I do an experience to test my scientific hypothesis.

(Thabang Maluleka competing at Nationals in February 2019)

How has your life changed since Nationals in February?
One thing for sure is the pressure imposed on me by my supporters especially those that are not in the coffee industry. Most of them think it’s just an easy thing since I have done it before but a lot don’t know what goes into cupping, just like athletes anything from geographical area to nerves can affect your palate. I’m not really complaining I’m enjoying the attention. The respect that I get from people who are in the industry on the other hand is overwhelming, I have received a lot of social media invites and inboxes from coffee fanatics.

When do you leave and what creature comforts will you be taking with you to Germany?
I’m leaving on the 3rd of June. I’ll be going with my mates Christopher Abrahams the latte artist and Tim Krynauw the judge so this should distract me from over thinking.

What extra magic can we expect from Thabang Maluleka at the World Cup Tasters Championship? Have you been doing extra or different training
LOL, there’s really no magic that can be performed when cupping, for me at least. The goal is still the same, get all cups in the shortest possible time. I am not doing anything extra except that I’m guarding my palate the same way people would guard money. If it were possible I would put my palate safe elsewhere until the due date.

Who are you looking forward to seeing and meeting in Berlin?
I don’t have any particular person that I am looking forward to seeing, I am looking forward to the experience at the world stage. I am mostly looking forward to meeting other cup tasters and possibly starting friendships. I consider myself a student of coffee so I need all the knowledge I can get.

Tell us a bit more about your coaches or mentors, who are they and what have they been helping you with?
My mentor at work is Gitika Diah who is the factory coffee master. Gitika is the first person who introduced me to coffee as she was my manager at the time. Every chance we get we do cupping me and her and compare notes, she’s always bringing different origins and blends for us to taste. My other mentor and coach is Johnson Sehoro (I call him Bra-Tshwaro). Bra-Tshwaro owns his own coffee business, this is the man who introduced me to coffee competitions to start with, and at the time he used to come to my work place and motivated me to try this competition. Besides him being a great coffee professional he is a great role model, he is one person that I call when my nerves are getting out of hand, when I aim low he always reminds me the sky is the limit and that’s what he has been doing to help me prepare, he is more of my mental coach over anything. There are however a lot of people from National Brands Ltd and Ciro Full service beverage co. who are continuously motivating me to do better every time.

What are the top 3 abilities a cup taster must have?
Attention to detail and a good memory. Be able to shut the world out and live in your head for those 8 minutes (calmness). The most important one for me is to be dismissive or time will make a decision for you, this works for all aspects of my life.

As you know anything can happen on the day, but what would you do if you won the World Cup Tasters Championship?
Most probably faint, I hope they have medical assistance nearby. Anything I will do at that point will be involuntary.

The best advice received thus far going into a competition of this magnitude?
Remain calm and breathe from both Lani Snyman and Bra-Tshwaro.

(Thabang Maluleka, 2019 Cup Tasting champion with a four time national champion, Donovan McLagan)

The best of luck Thabang, South Africa is behind you! Any message you would like to give to your supporters?
Firstly thank you to everyone who believed and still believe in me, for everyone who is a cup taster or wants to be a cup taster, I’d say aspire to be better than you were a second ago.

Photos: The Coffee Magazine

EXCLUSIVE: Harry Mole shares his WBC2019 experience May 03 2019

SCASA's 2019 National Barista Champion, Harry Mole, is back in the country after a much needed break, traveling the good ol' USA and competing at the World Barista Championships in Boston last month. Harry took some time to share his WBC experience with us.

Sasa Sestic (WBC Champion 2015) with Harry Mole and his coach John Evans

The World Barista Championship is such an amazing event, tell us more about your first impressions and your overall experience just being there?
It's so well organized and each of the competitors is attended to with opportunities to engage with each other and the organizers. Straight away I was surprised by the amount of competitors and size of the event; it's so great to share that space with legends. 

You mentioned you would like to develop your palate more going forward. What strategy will you be putting in place to achieve this?
Eating a lot more haha... I'll be working with more sensory kits and looking into training at available courses that focus on triangulation of flavours.
Sounds like a good plan! 

Having been at the WBC now, what elements do you think we can implement back here in South Africa?
I think focus needs to be directed at any questions regarding rules at orientation with competitors. Having a head judge present to guide individuals and set boundaries from the beginning of each competition is paramount.

Tell us a bit more about the Teams Competition? You we’re part of Team Espresso along with competitors from USA, Poland, Azerbaijan and Switzerland. What was that experience like? 
It was great! It's a good opportunity to make friends and learn from other competitors. We made a menu, smashed out some amazing coffees together and got the t-shirt. I served the best decaf I've ever tasted, it was processed with sugar cane... Right!?
Interesting alright.


Did you follow any of the other competitors’ sets? Whose did you enjoy? What stood out for you or what did you find interesting?
I did and wow, it's so inspiring seeing other creative outlets from around the world. My favourite was Dove Chen from New Zealand who used a double lactic fermentation Panama Geisha from Finca Nuguo. He used Skittles in his set to make judges taste the rainbow with flavours similar to his coffee, so cool…
Wow, you had us at double lactic fermentation. 

Boston, a great city for this type of competition. What about the city, sights, experiences, etc. did you enjoy?
It was really cold, but I had the opportunity to watch the Red Sox at Fenway Park, so great! We walked through Harvard University and rode around on bicycles, everyone in Boston is very friendly and the food is awesome. I could navigate the Freedom Trial in town from a game I played called Fallout, I was very happy!

What souvenirs did you bring back?
I got a new Brewista temperature control kettle for my home and Pop Tarts! Also Dr Pepper is my new favourite!

How will you remember WBC2019? A tattoo perhaps?
Yup! I got a small baseball bat tattoo at Boston Seapoint…
Memorable indeed.

What’s next for Harry Mole?
I'm going to take sometime to build on what I've learnt at WBC. There's a larger creative process I want to work on and coffee I would like to focus on for future competitions. I'll continue teaching and running our wholesale at TriBeCa Coffee; I'll also hopefully get to travel the country and inspire future competitors. 

Thanks for making us proud back in South Africa Harry and for representing. Do you have a message for your fans?
Thank you so much for the support and opportunity to represent our beautiful country. We are not far off in terms of speciality coffee here in SA, many competitors are surprised at our caliber and perseverance. I look forward to sharing my experiences and having a cup of coffee with you all. Stay warm, Winter is coming ;-) 
Thanks Harry, looking forward to it. 

Photos: Harry Mole & John Evans

SA's coffee community on Harry Mole's preliminary WBC set April 12 2019

South Africa's 2019 National Barista Champion, Harry Mole, undoubtedly put in a tremendous effort in his first ever World Barista Championship outing on 11 April. Always calm and cool, like we've come to experience a Harry Mole performance, his preliminary set featured a Tanzanian Peaberry coffee from the Kibo region and a signature drink that tastes like a cola tonic coffee cocktail with a spray of a homemade rose hydrofloral. Simply, Wow! It sure was a proud moment to see our champion on stage but we also wanted to know what the fellow coffee community thought of Harry's set.

Ishan Natalie - SA National Champion 2009, 2010 and 2015 and mentor to Harry Mole
It was a proud moment to see Harry on the world stage. I watched him blossom from a green bean learning to roast, to bringing him into our TriBeCa 'inner barista circle' at the office (haha). I have watched his passion and skill explode over many years into one of South Africa's most inspirational coffee human beings. His humility and kind nature is rare in the industry and it showed throughout his Boston trip and set. He handled himself with great humility, passion and peace, for his coffee and what he does. Harry was Harry on stage and did everything that he believes in and makes him comfortable. His coffee extractions and beverage builds looked really good and he told me his coffee was tasting amazing. It is unfortunate that he went a bit overtime and now we wait in anticipation. No matter the result, we as a South African coffee community, family and friends are extremely proud of what he achieved at his first every WBC; and I know that he is very proud of himself as well. Watch Ishan Natalie's competitive mindset 

Lani Snyman - Customer Service Executive at Ciro Full Service Beverage Company and former SCASA chair person
Harry Mole has an exceptional skill to understand coffee and serve great taste and extraction with confidence and commitment, solid every time. His perseverance and continuity in pursuing excellence in his profession will ensure that he lacks nothing when moving along in South Africa to achieve greatness in coffee. His set in Boston proved no different. He offered the best he could under tremendous pressure as a first–timer at WBC. I am proud to have Harry represent our country, he flew our flag with pride. Thank you and well done Harry!

Winston Thomas - SA 
National Champion 2017 & 2018
Harry Mole's set was really good, the night he won comp [the National Barista Championship] I told him he should stick to his guns and just be Harry and have fun and I feel like that's exactly what he did on stage. The Harry I saw on the WBC stage is the Harry I know and the video you guys posted of me [Winston Thomas' competitive mindset] was saying that the challenge is to be the same person on stage as that you are off stage. He did go over time, but it's perfectly fine, I experienced the same thing. He stuck to his guns and finished is conclusion even though he was going over time. [I] Didn't taste his coffee before he left, so I'm not sure what that was like, but the performance was really good and [a] solid start, little bit rushed in the end, but I think he'd done South Africa proud and I think he was an amazing ambassador, and I hope that he continues to be throughout the next stage, whether he does make semi-finals or not.

Bernard Muneri - SCASA chair person
As SCASA Board of Directors, we could not be more prouder of Harry Mole’s performance on the world's stage. We appreciate the effort, time, input and support from all the South African coffee family to our current champ. We stand UNITED with Passion for Coffee and we urge Harry to bring back the learnings and experience gained from being at the World Barista Championship and plough it back into our baristas in the interest of growing the coffee industry. Thank you Harry for rubbing shoulders against the best in the world and standing your own ground with such a polished performance. SCASA is proud of you and your team. Best of luck and regardless of the final rankings, we stand super proud of our champion. All the best to all the competitors more especially our fellow African competitors and may the best Barista win!

Christopher Abrahams - SA National Latte Art Champion 2018 & 2019
I thought Harry Mole did an exceptional job on the world's stage! He was so calm and comfortable throughout his performance. It was a delight watching his performance and it seemed clear that he put lots of hard work into it. Great effort Harry! I'm sure you did very well! So proud! 

Khulekani Mpala - Gauteng Regional Champion 2016
It was a good, clean set. I believe he said everything he hoped to say on the world stage!

Dieter Liebenberg - KwaZulu-Natal Regional Champion 2018
Great performance by Harry, was fantastic to see how he took another step up and remained so calm throughout. Definitely a set to be proud of. Congrats.

Raymond Roesstorff - Eastern Cape Regional Champion 2018
Even though I don't know Harry very well, I felt a sense of pride and fraternity watching him on the world stage and couldn't help cheering loudly as I watched from home. Every flavour mentioned, every extraction, every description he hits, I gave a loud clap and "YES!" His setup looked amazing, his routine was smooth, I just wish he didn't go over time by so much. You need every point you can get against the top baristas in the world. I wish Harry the best of luck and the Nation is holding thumbs that he makes it to the next round.

Stevo Kühn - Central Regional Runner Up 2018
Just watched Harry’s set on stream... After seeing Harry’s set in practice runs prior to Nationals and seeing the WBC set I am amazed at how well he managed to stay himself during the set. What you see is what you get! Gentle when talking, but fast at work. Well done on a solid set & representing SA well Harry, John and team.

Rodney Swartz - SA National Latte Art Runner Up 2019
Harry Mole what a great set, clean an performance was on top of the World you did fantastic brother...Make us proud seeing your performance at Nationals was inspiring...continue as the humble person you are...

Kgune Dlamini - KwaZulu-Natal Regional Third Place 2018 and SA National Top Six 2019
I think he was solid. Harry the usual suspect, always calm yet solidly precise. I think he made all of us proud. Definitely represented South Africa swell.

Gerald Pietersen - 
Eastern Cape Regional Top Six 2018
Watching Harry's performance made me realize, and again for I love with the sensation coffee provides. His smooth and seamless approach was really amazing and so inspiring. I loved how he delivered a seamless set that was based on excellence, precision and so entertaining. His flavour notes, aroma and mouthfeel descriptors makes one feel part of the 4D journey. It was an honor to be part of this showcase. Well done to Harry, you truly made us proudly South African.

Sibahle Ngqiva - Eastern Cape Regional Top Six 2018
I think Harry delivered a very clean and detailed presentation, I was basically taken on a journey. I especially loved the story he shared about Trevor the farmer, and how he incorporated his expedition into his set. He handled the pressure really well and I believe that we were well represented as a country.

Want to rewatch Harry Mole's 2019 WBC preliminary set?
1. Visit Boston WCC
2. Click on channel WBC2
3. On the video screen top right click the 'Event Posts' icon which will dropdown to more clips
4. Click and load the latest/top clip
5. Hit play and scrub the play bar to timecode 1:46:52

Also. Read the blow by blow execution of Harry Mole's preliminary set with exclusive photos as documented by The Coffee Magazine

Photos: Screen Grabs

Meet SCASA Board Member, Chris Rootman April 08 2019

Meet Chris RootmanNational Sales Manager at VDP Distributors and one of our newly elected board members. Chris, an ever forward and out-of-the-box thinker, with an astute sense of our industry, believes passion along with knowledge and hard work are key qualities to have if you want to rise to the top.

How did you end up working in the coffee industry?
As a student in the early 90’s I did some shifts as a waiter at an Italian restaurant in Pretoria. The owner was an absolute espresso junkie who taught me some of the intricacies of grinder settings, basic extraction and the difference between what he called a nipple cappuccino and an Italian cappuccino. I fell in love with the rhythms and steps and have since then, always surrounded myself with coffee, in all my career paths. Many people have taken me under their wing since then and I am privileged to have had some great mentors. I chose coffee as a career and hard work as a method to ensure I learn something new about the industry every day.

What excites you about the coffee industry?
The constant change and evolution. I remember leaving a previous job because I felt that I was stagnating. In our amazing industry, there is something new being discovered and implemented every single day, and no matter how much you think you know, the information growth is almost infinite. Our industry is made up of so many different specialities, and each one is different and exciting. 

Has South Africa’s coffee industry grown? Are we on par with the rest of the world?
I think we have seen phenomenal growth. If you look at the statistics released by Insight Survey’s latest South African Coffee Landscape Report, our consumption has grown by an average of 13,3% per year, since 2015. That consumption growth means that the whole supply chain and employment opportunities are expanding. I believe it is important to look at what is happening in industries across the globe, but that we should not measure ourselves against that. We have a very unique country with unique tastes, but more importantly, unique challenges and we should strive every single day to measure ourselves against ourselves. Are we better than yesterday? Did we do everything we can to grow/import/roast or buy a better coffee? Are we training people to make the best coffee possible? Most importantly, are we contributing to our industry and constantly doing our utmost to make it the best it can be?

As a SCASA BoD member what you like to see more of in the future (in the industry)?
I would like to see certified training standards that are regulated by an organisation, potentially SCASA. I would hope that the training becomes more accessible, more affordable and more practical, allowing for faster workplace integration. Lani Snyman has already done incredible work for SCASA and as someone who comes from a training background, I can only say that her work has inspired me. This facet of our industry has the ability to create employment and all of us should actively contribute to help our communities grow and create sustainable jobs.

What skills in your opinion should a barista or coffee professional have to be considered good?
Knowledge partnered with hard work is a recipe for success in any industry.

What can coffee shops do to create more awareness for specialty coffee
Educate. It all starts with the owners and managers. If they are interested and passionate, they will transfer that knowledge to the baristas, who will, in turn, educate the consumers. 

Any memorable SCASA coffee event moments you would like to share with us?
I have run a couple of competitions in the last few years and it is quite difficult singling out one specific moment. Those who are at these competitions will tell you that it is intensely emotional and stressful. Every single competitor goes through the same emotions and through this they form the most amazing friendships and camaraderie. We are all working for different businesses from Monday to Friday and are all fighting for our portions of the coffee market, but when the competition starts, everyone becomes part of this amazing community. I have worked in other industries and this characteristic is beautifully unique to our industry. I have made wonderful friends through these events and the sense of community is substantial and unique.

What is currently your favourite coffee, how are you brewing it, and why?
I am absolutely in love with a black honey processed bean from Nicaragua. Light roast prepared in my Chemex.

What’s your advice or motivation to current and/or aspiring coffee professionals out there?
Work hard, surround yourself with good mentors and become part of the coffee community.

SCASA Eastern Cape Region Coffee Competitions 2019 - ENTRIES OPEN April 03 2019

ENTRIES NOW OPEN for SCASA's 2019 Eastern Cape Region Coffee Competitions taking place 4-6 October at Father's House, Port Elizabeth (30 Paterson Road).

Download the Coffee Competition Entry Form HERE 

Judges who would like to apply can do so HERE
Judges training will be Friday 4 October 2019, Venue TBC.

Meet SCASA Vice Chairman, Alessandro Morrico April 02 2019

Meet Alessandro Morrico, the quintessential coffee connoisseur. Alessandro is a Director at Morrico Specialist Coffee Supplies, the Vice Chairman of SCASA, the National Head Judge and holds a SCAA diploma, amongst many other things. Alessandro knows coffee and its mechanics very well and has been a pillar in our industry for quite some time as he embodies coffee’s la dolce vita...

How did you end up working in the coffee industry?
When I was five, I had my first latte macchiato and later at 13 when I began making espressi in my father’s restaurant in Rosebank. By 18 I was training, becoming a qualified technician in an Italian firm for the espresso industry.

What excites you about the coffee industry?
The constant research and methods used particularly in development and farming and the processing of the beans, as well as the research and technology used in the search for the optimum extraction and consistency.

Has South Africa’s coffee industry grown? Are we on par with the rest of the world?
Has grown tons literally, but not on par with globe yet. Watch this space!

As a SCASA BoD member what you like to see more of in the future (in the industry)?
Camaraderie amongst members and more respect. Less politics and more fun, cause that's what coffee should be about. Higher standards and commitment, leading to better quality in more cafes.

What skills in your opinion should a barista or coffee professional have to be considered good?
Someone who refers to themselves as a “barista” ought to be very good at making coffee amongst other things. Any one missing skill on the list and the individual is NOT a barista, perhaps wanting training or becoming but NOT YET a barista. This term, on this side of the world has been abused. 

What can coffee shops do to create more awareness for specialty coffee?
Serve delicious coffee consistently, irrespective of where it came from and who roast it.

Any memorable SCASA coffee event moments you would like to share with us?
Any event, from the first to the last event, they're all memorable – it’s a party of enthusiastic coffee individuals supporting each other for the sake of spreading quality, appreciation, method and education – you gotta love it!

What is currently your favourite coffee, how are you brewing it, and why?
I love the richness of the central Americans as espresso and the exquisite complex aromas and flavours of recent Indian and Asian naturals on a cupping table. Why? It's the two extremes of roasted coffee. First step you cup it, then sell it, grind it and put it through an espresso machine for the rest of the world to drink. 

What’s your advice or motivation to current and/or aspiring coffee professionals out there?
If you love it and respect it, don’t stop! Do it right always, and success is only a matter of time.

Photos: Facebook/MorricoSA / Charina Bartlett (HeSheDigital)

Counting Down To Boston WCC 2019 April 01 2019

Today, 1 April 2019, marks 10 days to the start of the World Coffee Championships (WCC) at the Specialty Coffee Expo at Boston’s Convention and Exhibition Center. From 11-14 April the best of the world’s baristas and brewers will be going head to head to determine who will wear the coveted title of the World’s Best. South Africa’s champion Harry Mole, from TriBeCa Coffee, amazed us at SCASA’s Nationals in February and will be giving his all when he represents South Africa along with another estimated 100 international competitors for four days of fierce competition. The World Coffee Championships are annual events that are the culmination of local and regional events, hosted by over sixty sanctioned National Bodies globally.
Competitors in the World Barista Championship prepare four espressos, four milk drinks, and four original signature drinks to exacting standards in 15 minutes. While progressing through the main championship, competitors simultaneously participate in the WBC Teams Competition - rewarding group support and collaboration. Our Harry has been pooled along with competitors from USA, Switzerland, Poland, Iceland and Azerbaijan to form Team Espresso.
Fans will be able to follow Harry’s performance at WCC via LIVE stream HERE. His preliminary set will be on Thursday 11 April at 17:58 (SA Time).

SCASA sat down with him one final time before he departs for the United States.  
You’re (almost) in the final stretch now, with days left before the World Barista Championship, how is preparations going for Boston?
It's been such a great experience with all the support from our coffee community and from our team at TriBeCa Coffee! Alessandro from Morrico Imports has graciously loaned me the beautiful Black Eagle; The Ultimate Water team has installed a sponsored water filtration system to ensure we have the correct water specifications for WBC. My TriBeCa team (John, Matt and Tiny) as well as Ishan Natalie, have been watching my practice sets, mentoring, coaching and helping with invaluable feedback and my Director, Martin Fitzgerald, has been absolutely amazing – building a WBC setup and helping with new set pieces and financial support for the trip and equipment needed.

You're leaving on the 5th of April, have you decided what creature comforts will you be taking with you to the States?
Yes, we’ll be flying on April 5th, arriving a few days earlier to acclimatize and prepare signature ingredients and test the various milks available in the Boston area. I’m a sucker for Sour Jelly Tots, so that’s totally in my backpack at all times haha…

What extra magic can we expect from Harry Mole at the World Coffee Championship? Have you been working on a new set, reengineering an old one, or is it a surprise?
Surprisingly my nationals coffee was tasting amazing when compared to a few great options we got in; so I’m working on a similar setup but introducing a few new elements to the signature drink as well as new set pieces and crockery! John Evans from Asmara Coffee is playing with the various roasting options so we can serve the best possible coffee depending on the climate in Boston.

Have you thought about who are you looking forward to seeing and meeting in Boston?
The other WBC competitors! Would love to connect and make new coffee friendships; also looking forward to meeting the team from Black & White Coffee (Lem Butler and Kyle Ramage) and the team from Counter Culture who has opened up a practice session for me in their training space.

Tell us a bit more about your coaches and what have they been helping you with?
John Evans is my coach and roaster who will support and travel along with me to WBC. Matthew Carter assisted with sourcing our coffee; as well as Ishan Natalie who’s been giving me great advice and feedback. They are all phenomenal friendships contributing to many factors and with invaluable support and feedback – also listening to me set after set and not getting bored haha…

As you know anything can happen on the day, but what would you do if you won the World Barista Championship?
First thing I would do is high five John Evans has hard as humanly possible, bring home that fancy trophy and have a solid braai...

The best advice received thus far going into a competition of this magnitude?
Beside the coffee, setups, logistics and choices to make on stage; probably the best advice I have received is to be who I am and stick with my gut.

The best of luck Harry, South Africa is behind you! Any message you would like to give to your supporters?
I am so grateful for everyone’s support and input, keep being the beautiful people you are, bettering coffee and connections we share. Also get yourselves a small gas burner to drink coffee in the morning with these weird power vibes happening... 😊

Bühler - Innovations For A Better World March 25 2019

Bühler, SCASA’s new Bronze Competition Sponsor, offers a range of innovative coffee processing solutions. From the intake, like cleaning and sorting, to roasting and grinding. However, it is the roasting process and its system, that determines the coffee flavour and the physical properties of the beans. One such roasting system is Bühler's RoastMaster20, where you control the roasting process precisely so that you achieve the desired quality – batch by batch.

Download Bühler's full RoastMaster20 brochure HERE
Download Bühler's Innovative Coffee Processing brochure HERE

It is a long way from green beans to a delightful cup of coffee. The RoastMaster20 empowers you all the way in creating optimized roasting pro les for superb flavor generation. Let yourself be inspired to new coffee horizons.

The RoastMaster20 by Bühler offers exactly what start-up businesses and small-scale industrial operations require to produce top-quality coffee. The capacity ranges up to 70 kg of green beans per hour. Hot air is the best choice to ensure a uniform roast. All hot air passes through the rotating drum and transfers its heat directly to the beans in a homogeneous way. This hot air pathway ensures a high proportion of convective heat transfer rather than to heat the drum from below. No matter at which stage of the process, the variable drum speed and the sophisticated interior design of the roasting chamber deliver an optimal bean distribution and an efficient interaction of the beans with the air. Silverskins are separated in the cyclone. The compact drum roaster is equipped with separate heating and cooling fans which allow to roast and cool at the same time. An innovative and easy-to-use PLC control system ensures quality consistency during production but also leaves room for manual intervention to steer the processing when necessary.

State-of-the-art technology and a PLC control system offer user-friendly and flexible coffee roasting. A wide variety of green coffee characteristics and blends can be processed to high-class coffee products.

RoastMasterTM20. Process flexibility for your flavor signature.
Each coffee variety is unique by nature and requires individual roasting conditions to transform the full intrinsic flavor potential into great flavor. The RoastMasterTM20 is equipped with a fully variable burner for flexible energy input. The frequency converter on the main fan allows for variable speed and optimized air-to-bean-ratio during the different stages of the process. Regardless wether you prefer traditional or non-conventional pro les, the sophisticated multistep process control software inspires pro le roasting for best flavor generation.

Data management and next generation connectivity
The future-safe concept includes an easy-to-use PLC control system with integrated touch panel, recipe management, online trend monitoring, batch report creation and safety features. Moreover the easy data export via USB port, online data trans- fer to external third party process monitoring software and remote HMI visualization and process control ensure quality consistency during production.

Download Bühler's full RoastMaster20 brochure HERE
Download Bühler's Innovative Coffee Processing brochure HERE

Meet SCASA Board Member, George Bertolis March 25 2019

Meet George Bertolis, SCASA board member and Director of CoffeeQuip in Johannesburg; a premier support partner for all speciality coffee needs. George has over 20 years valuable experience in the coffee industry with an allround understanding of what specialty coffee entails, not only as a business expert, but as a competition judge and consumer too.


How did you end up working in the coffee industry?
I tried it out through a family recommendation in the year 2000 and haven’t looked back since.

What excites you about the coffee industry?
The fast evolving technology and methods of preparing coffee. The continual evolution of the flavour profiles in every cup.

Has South Africa’s coffee industry grown? Are we on par with the rest of the world?
It has definitely grown. We are on par with most countries however, our specialty consumption and awareness needs to grow.

George Bertolis (centre) with fellow SCASA judges and board members Alessandro Morrico (left)
and Bernard Muneri (right)

As a SCASA BoD member what you like to see more of in the future (in the industry)?
A closer calibration between our local baristas and roasters, to bring a WCE event to South Africa.

What skills in your opinion should a barista or coffee professional have to be considered good?
Simply to be able to prepare a perfect cup of coffee. Understand the background of how that cup has come to light.

What can coffee shops do to create more awareness for specialty coffee
Employ and educate their baristas.

George Bertolis with fellow judges during the 2019 SCASA National Coffee Competitions

Any memorable SCASA coffee event moments you would like to share with us?
I’ve loved and been moved by all of them. This I what has kept me involved since 2006.

What is currently your favourite coffee, how are you brewing it, and why?
I really enjoy the Sidamo. I drink it as filter coffee. The blueberry flavour notes are awesome!

What’s your advice or motivation to current and/or aspiring coffee professionals out there?
Let’s all work together to further grow the coffee industry and competing baristas in our country. Let’s do more work to grow our grassroots coffee professionals.

Photos: Facebook

Meet SCASA Board Member, Neil Maree March 18 2019

Meet Neil Maree, new SCASA board member and Owner and Design Engineer at Genio Roasters in Johannesburg. Neil has built Africa's first coffee roasting equipment supplier from scratch and currently has six, fifteen and thirty kilogram coffee roasters in over 14 countries.

How did you end up working in the coffee industry?
I competed in the 2009 Barista Championship and completed my engineering thesis in coffee roasting automation systems.  

What excites you about the coffee industry?
The growth potential for the SA industry is phenomenal. There is so much more to explore, innovate and build upon and SCASA is one of the best vehicles to drive that.

Neil Maree with roasting client, De Wet Beukes of Red Truck Roastery 

Has South Africa’s coffee industry grown? Are we on par with the rest of the world?
We are certainly not on par in terms of size, but I think we are very close to on par with regards to quality and understanding within the specialty industry. The industry keeps growing year on year and will continue to do so as long as passionate individuals and companies keeps doing what they are doing now.

As a SCASA BoD member what you like to see more of in the future (in the industry)?
We are developing so many new opportunities for the industry and even the public to engage with each other and with the outside coffee world. All of these opportunities will exponentially increase SA’s coffee quality and culture. The biggest thing that I want to see is workshops; roasting, brewing, barista jams. Anything that brings the community together to improve their skills through sharing and cooperation. But these are not just pipe-dreams; they are already happening and right now is an exciting time to be involved in specialty coffee in SA!

Neil Maree exhibiting Genio Roasters at Hostex in 2015

What skills in your opinion should a barista or coffee professional have to be considered good?
The ability to teach and inspire others. We have many professionals in SA who have treasure troves of knowledge and experience, but they keep it to themselves or they do not have the platforms to share this knowledge with others. That ability and drive to educate others is what makes a good barista become a legend! 

What can coffee shops do to create more awareness for specialty coffee?
Interact with the greater coffee community. Be part of events like SCASA’s various competitions, travel to expos and exhibits, or even just participate in some way with other passionate coffee people. Awareness can be done with social media, but that only goes so far. The goal is to turn awareness into participation through education.

Any memorable SCASA coffee event moments you would like to share with us?
I think the best is yet to come. We are very actively working on expanding the SCASA platforms to become more interactive. Watch out for 2019’s competitions; they are going to be incredible!

Neil Maree serving Genio roasted coffee at Hostex in 2018

What is currently your favourite coffee, how are you brewing it, and why?
I enjoy a Chemex served in a glass. I don’t like cups because you loose something when you cannot see the coffee’s colour itself. As for origin: any fresh, properly roasted coffee with a development of 18-22% is good in my books! I enjoy experience any coffee like this because then its true colours come out albeit good or bad. Not all coffees are great, but they each have a story to tell.

What’s your advice or motivation to current and/or aspiring coffee professionals out there?
Look at our current barista champion Harry Mole and cupping champion Thabang Maluleka. These are people who have been runners-up for years in coffee competitions. But that did not stop or dissuade them. Instead, they kept pushing and pushing, year after year until they won. These are incredible individuals who we can all learn from. People like them motivate others to keep pushing and to never give up.

Photos: Genio Roasters

SCASA Gauteng Region Coffee Competitions 2019 - ENTRIES OPEN March 14 2019

ENTRIES NOW OPEN for SCASA's 2019 Gauteng Region Coffee Competitions taking place 26-28 July at Coffee & Chocolate, Ticketpro Dome, Johannesburg.

Download the Coffee Competition Entry Form HERE

Judges who would like to apply can do so HERE
Judges training will be Thursday 25 July 2019, Venue TBC.

Learn more about at 2019's Coffee & Chocolate HERE

A Word From The Flavour Geniuses, DaVinci Gourmet March 14 2019

SCASA is overjoyed to have DaVinci Gourmet as our Platinum Competition Sponsor. What we love most is that DaVinci Gourmet understands that baristas and mixologists are real artists. Guided by this belief, they combine craft, science, and art to provide an amazing palette of flavours that empower drink makers to create their masterpieces. They follow a philosophy of co-creation crafting each new product and recipe with real Baristas and Mixologists, using sensory science to help create deeper connections with consumers. This is what they like to call 'Flavour Genius'. Thank you DaVinci Gourmet for partnering with SCASA and for sharing our United Passion For Coffee!

SCASA Central Region Coffee Competitions 2019 - ENTRIES OPEN March 12 2019

ENTRIES NOW OPEN for SCASA's 2019 Central Region Coffee Competitions taking place 31 May - 1 June at Coffee Extravaganza, Windmill Casino, Bloemfontein.

Download the Coffee Competition Entry Form HERE

Judges who would like to apply can do so HERE

Learn more about at 2019's Coffee Extravaganza HERE

Meet SCASA's New Chairman, Bernard Muneri March 11 2019

Meet Bernard Muneri, SCASA’s new chairperson. A person with an absolute passion for coffee and the industry; an always forward thinking individual who would like to see South Africa's specialty scene grow and reach new dimensions.

Bernard Muneri (SCASA's new chairman) with Harry Mole, SA's 2019 Barista Champion
(Photo: The Coffee Magazine)
How did you end up working in the coffee industry? 
It was a prerequisite for all TriBeCa Regional Managers over a decade ago. Before you become a Regional Manager for Woolworths Cafes, TriBeCa required one to be a Certified Barista. Ironically, l was certified by Ishan Natalie back in the days. The rest is history and so much learnt and still learning more about Speciality Coffee at the highest level.

What excites you about the coffee industry?
The industry is always evolving. Back in the day when we competed for example, it was more about performance focus than actual coffee flavours and sourcing the right beans. Nowadays, the focus is getting the best beans and doing justice to them on stage including achieving the best via better roasting techniques.

Has South Africa’s coffee industry grown? Are we on par with the rest of the world?
Very much so. Through SCASA Barista competitions every year, we have seen baristas taking part and thereafter opening their own café/roastery. Nothing makes me more happier than seeing baristas develop into entrepreneurs in their own way. There is room for improvement compared to the rest of the world, but through yearly participation of our National Champions, WCE Judges Training headed by Teija Lublinkhof and also learning from the rest of the world's trends, we will get there. Work in progress.

SCASA Board of Directors from Right to Left: Bernard Muneri, Alessandro Morrico, George Bertolis, 
Lani Snyman (outgoing chair person), 
George Karatzas, Neil Maree and Chris Rootman

As a SCASA Board of Directors (BoD) member, what you like to see more of in the future (in the industry)?
Would be pleased to see more competitors entering to upskill their knowledge, more sponsors supporting our non-profit organisation and even government assistance where possible in getting teams to go to “Worlds" and learn more. Those who did not win this time should keep grinding. If l'm not mistaken Harry Mole our current SA champion competed for plus minus five years until he won, so never give up.

SCASA Board of Directors Chairs from Right to Left: Bernard Muneri (Chair Person), Alessandro Morrico 
(Vice Chair Person)

What skills in your opinion should a barista or coffee professional have to be considered good?
To me “Your attitude determines your altitude” in this coffee game.

What can coffee shops do to create more awareness for specialty coffee
Getting more affiliated with SCASA facilitated events and training programs. In this way, the sky is the limit as it’s the right platform to understand speciality coffee in my opinion and learn from one another.

Any memorable SCASA coffee event moments you would like to share with us?
I think the 2010 Nationals in Gauteng. l coached the then South African Barista Champion Travis Scott and he won on his second attempt. We then went on to represent SA in Colombia at the World Barista Championship. Life changing experience. The rest of the events ever since then have always been memorable in their own way as the standard still rises with every competition.

What is currently your favourite coffee, how are you brewing it, and why?
Favourite coffee brewing in my house currently is Burundi Long Miles, mind blowing explosion of flavours. Roasted just to first crack. It's like a "money-in-the-bank" espresso. Enjoy it as a Cortado even better as the ratios are on point.

What’s your advice or motivation to current and/or aspiring coffee professionals out there?
I was once a Barista Trainer, moved to competitions and grew and now l'm part of SCASA BoD, being chairman is a cherry on top. So everyone who works hard and put in unconditional passion for the coffee industry will be recognised and rewarded accordingly. If you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life. The passion drives you.

Meet SA Latte Art Champion Christopher Abrahams February 28 2019

We caught up with Latte Art Champion, Christopher Abrahams, who've retained his title for 2019 at the recent National Coffee Competitions in Ballito (21-24 February). Christopher currently works for Ciro Beverage Solutions in Cape Town, a full service coffee company and says: "'s an amazing company to work for and allows me to view the coffee industry in SA on a larger scale." 

What were your first thoughts when you won?
I must admit, it was a relief! Waiting in suspense, isn’t the easiest thing to deal with after competing in a final, especially knowing that I was up against a tough competitor, a good friend, Rodney Swartz, who is an amazing latte artist. As a latte artist, one always thinks of all the mistakes, rather than everything that was done well during the performance. I knew that I made a fair share of mistakes and it was all I could think about, until the point when I was announced champion.

What was your strategy going into Nationals this year?
It is not always easy strategizing, regarding latte art. The biggest issue around this, is creativity. Unfortunately creativity doesn’t happen over night, so it takes quite a number of hours sketching, planning and attempting to achieve the concept. I found myself changing the concept a few times and eventually I thought of one that could work. My approach up to the competition was a lot different to how I would usually do things. I realised that it would be better to focus on my strengths and eliminate inconsistency.

Talk us though your sets, what did you pour in the Semi-Finals and Final?
My semi-final set was very similar to my final set. In the semi-final set I did a rose, as a free pour, a sea turtle as a free pour and a flaring swan as a macchiato. In the final set, I did a rose, as a free pour, a sea turtle, as a free pour and a tribal angel as a designer pour.

How does this win compare to previous wins?
This win meant the world to me! Unfortunately, I didn’t do so well at the World Latte Art Championship in Brazil. My goal was to ensure that I make it back to the World Latte Art Championship and do much better.
Do you have a support crew? Who are they and how do they help you to prepare?
At this point I don’t have a support crew. I am however supported quite a bit by my wife, who has become quite good at analysing latte art. I am also fortunate to be friends with the two previous SA latte art champions, who are amazing people and are always happy to help.

What approach will you be taking to World of Coffee Berlin, 6-8 June?
I feel that it’s always important to learn from your mistakes and improve. The objective is always to be better and unfortunately one can only improve until you’ve had the opportunity to make mistakes. My approach will be to ensure that I have a clean set.
What is the most difficult design to pour and why?
I believe that every latte artist experience their own challenges, when it comes to perfecting certain designs. Personally the most difficult design to pour, is the free pour butterfly. It is quite a difficult design to pour and is impressive to the eye.

What was the competition like in Brazil last year (2018) when you represented South Africa?
It was amazing! I was truly fortunate to meet quite a few of my latte art role models. On the other hand, I found the competition tough. I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I should’ve been and I found it difficult to adjust to the milk that was used for the competition. I was still humbled by the fact that I was able to finally compete on the world stage, amongst all the world’s greatest latte artists.
What would you like to see more happening on the Latte Art scene in South Africa?
I’d like to see more baristas competing in the latte art competitions. It’s always amazing to find new talent in the industry. I also feel that we need to do more latte art competitions, like latte art smackdowns, etc.

Your thoughts on South Africa's coffee and Latte Art scene, how far we’ve come?
I think the SA coffee scene has grown tremendously! We’ve still got a long way to go, but it seems clear that there is continuous growth. From a latte art perspective, we are still far off, probably a year or two behind, if not more. The important thing is that we are slowly progressing.
Your favourite coffee and favourite Latte Art design and why?
My favourite coffee has always been an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. I enjoy coffee with intense flavour and aroma. My favourite latte art design is the deer in the woods. I enjoy pouring it and usually looks quite realistic when it has been poured well.
Any inspiration or motivation you would like to share with other Latte Artists?
For all the latte artists out there, I encourage you all to love what you do and to strive for your goals. I remember the first time I competed in the regional latte art competition, it was definitely a day that I’d never forget. I was so excited to compete and the only goal I had, was to ensure that my set was perfect. Moments after my performance, I remember thinking of all my mistakes. I was truly disappointed in myself and I thought that maybe competing wasn’t really for me. After the results were given to us, I was given the news that I missed the final by 1.5 points. The judges found my performance quite good. It was a day never to forget! I was absolutely shocked that I actually stood a chance! It was that day that I decided that if I really wanted to reach the top, I would need to perfect every little aspect of the competition. It’s been approximately four years since that moment, bringing me to three national finals and two national titles. So I’d like to encourage all the latte artists out there, to follow your dreams, work as hard as possible, persevere and you will reach the top! It may only happen after a few years or even the following year, but the important thing is to keep working at improving your ability and strive to reach your full potential.
What’s next for Christopher Abrahams and what is on your bucket list?
I’ve still got a long way to go in order to reach my full potential. I’d therefore like to compete in latte art for another two years and hope that I’m able put South Africa on the map from a world perspective. Latte art takes years to perfect and the only way that one can be successful on a world level, is if you continue training and perfecting new techniques.
Christopher's Bucket List items:
1. I’d like to make the top 6 in the national barista championship one day
2. Reach the semi-finals in the world latte art championship
3. Become a world latte art judge

Thank you Christopher and the very best of luck representing South Africa again  at Berlin WCC's 'World Of Coffee' 6-8 June. Read more about the WCC's other main event heading to Berlin. 

Photos: The Coffee Magazine and Instagram/@the_caffeine_guy

New 2019 National Coffee Champions to compete in Boston and Berlin February 26 2019



What's next for our new South African coffee heroes you may ask? Barista Champion, Harry Mole from TriBeCa Coffee, will be heading to Boston USA, to compete at the World Coffee Championships' (WCC) 'Specialty Coffee Expo' 11-14 April. Read more about the World Coffee Championships heading to Boston.


Thabang Maluleka, the new 2019 Cup Tasters Champion and Christopher Abrahams, Latte Art Champion (both from Ciro), will be competing at Berlin WCC's 'World Of Coffee' 6-8 June. Read more about the WCC's other main event heading to Berlin. 

The best of luck with your preparations.

New SCASA Board of Directors Announced February 25 2019

SCASA Board of Directors from Right to Left: Bernard Muneri, Alessandro Morrico, George Bertolis,
Lani Snyman (outgoing chair person), 
George Karatzas, Neil Maree and Chris Rootman

It's a new dawn and era for the coffee industry in South Africa as we congratulate and introduce to you our new SCASA Board of Directors (BoD) announced at Nationals over the weekend. The new BoD members are: Bernard Muneri
 (Chair), Alessandro Morrico (Vice Chair), George Karatzas (Treasurer), George Bertolis, Neil Maree and Chris Rootman. Amanda A Pyne-James has been named as Secretariat.

A word of thanks again to outgoing chair person, Lani Snyman
, for her amazing contribution to our industry as well as to our trusted sponsors and partners for their support in building a United Passion for Coffee in South Africa.

Q Arabica Grader Course Postponed February 25 2019

The Q Arabica Grader Combo Course and Exam (originally scheduled for 4-9 March 2019) at Sevenoaks Trading in Randburg has tentatively been moved to July.

To find out more details about the course please email

Introducing the 2019 National CHAMPIONS February 24 2019

Introducing the 2019 National Champions as crowned during SCASA's National Coffee Competitions at Ballito's Lifestyle Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, 24 February 2019.

BARISTA CHAMPION Harry Mole (TriBeCa Coffee)

LATTE ART CHAMPION Christopher Abrahams (Ciro)

CUP TASTERS CHAMPION Thabang Maluleka (Ciro)

Barista Specialty Awards (as determined in Semi-Final Round)
Best Technical & Best Signature Drink: Khulekani Mpala (Wiesenhof)
Best Milk Beverage: Ishan Natalie (Starbucks SA)
Best Espresso: Neil Gouws (Origin Coffee Roasters)

Harry Mole (TriBeCa Coffee) 2019 National Barista Champion with SCASA chair person, Bernard Muneri

2019 Barista Placement
1. Harry Mole - TriBeCa Coffee
2. Trevor Fitz - Beethoven Coffee Company
3. Neil Gouws - Origin Coffee Roasters
4. Ishan Natalie - Starbucks SA
5. Khulekani Mpala - Wiesenhof
6. Kgune Dlamini - Lineage Coffee

Christopher Abrahams (Ciro) 2019 National Latte Art Champion with SCASA chair person, Bernard Muneri

2019 Latte Art Placement
1. Christopher Abrahams - Ciro
2. Rodney Swartz - Champs Musical Coffee Shop Productions

Thabang Maluleka (Ciro) 2019 Cup Tasters Champion with SCASA chair person, Bernard Muneri

2019 Cup Tasters Placement
1. Thabang Maluleka - Ciro
2. Donovan McLagan - Urban Espress Coffee Company

Nationals 2019 Day 4 (Finals) in Pictures

Harry Mole (TriBeCa Coffee)

Trevor Fitz (Beethoven Coffee Company)

Christopher Abrahams (Ciro)

Christopher Abrahams's Latte Art set at finals (Ciro)

Rodney Swartz (Champs Musical CSP)

Rodney Swartz's Latte Art set at Finals (Champs Musical CSP)

Thabang Maluleka (Ciro) and Donovan McLagan (Urban Espress)

Maxine Thiart (Routed Roasters) and Chad Whitby (Colombo Coffee)

Photos: The Coffee Magazine

Nationals 2019 Judges Announced February 23 2019

Judges announced for 
SCASA National's Coffee Competitions Finals Sunday, 24 February at Lifestyle Centre Ballito in KZN.
Head Judges: Teija Lublinkhof & Bernard Muneri
Visual: George Betolis & Dave Ballance
Technical: Quincy Hlongwane
Head Judge: Teija Lublinkhof
Sensory: Bernard Muneri, Alessandro Morrico, George Bertolis & Chad Aden Whitby
Shadow: Luke van der Merwe
Technical: Quincy Hlongwane & Tim Krynauw
THANK YOU to all our judges for their contribution and effort during this year's Nationals.

Photo: The Coffee Magazine

Nationals 2019 Day 3 in Pictures February 23 2019

A fantastic third day of SCASA's National Coffee Competitions that delivered nine scintillating sets and ultimately leading to the announcement of the top six baristas that will be competing for the National title; and a spot to represent South Africa in Boston, USA at the World Barista Championships (WBC). In order of appearance (on Sunday, 24 February) they are: Neil Gouws (Origin Coffee Roasters), Ishan Natalie (Starbucks South Africa), Trevor Fitz (Beethoven Coffee Company), Harry Mole (TriBeCa Coffee), Khulekani Mpala (Wiesenhof Coffee) and Kgune Dlamini (Lineage Coffee). Apart from the Barista Championships stating at 10:30, the National Coffee Competitions will also feature the Cup Tasters Competition (starting at 09:00) and the Latte Art Competition (starting at 09:30) at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre.

The 2019 Top 6 Barista Finalists - from LR: Harry Mole, Trevor Fitz, Ishan Natalie, Neil Gouws and Khulekani Mpala (Missing Kgune Dlamini)

The 2019 National Coffee Competitions Judges

Khulekani Mpala (Wiesenhof Coffee)

Khulekani Mpala (Wiesenhof Coffee)

Dieter Liebenberg (VDP Distributors)

Simnikiwe Mkhize (Rosetta Roastery)

Stevo Kühn (Urban Brew Coffee)

Ndumiso Ngcobo (The Talkhouse Cafe)

Bruce Manning (TriBeCa Coffee)

All barista sets will be LIVE streamed via the SCASA Facebook Page. Click HERE to download the latest National Coffee Competitions schedule. 

SCASA's Nationals will be taking place 21-24 February 2019 at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre in KwaZulu-Natal.

Photos: The Coffee Magazine/Melanie Winter

Nationals 2019 After Party Details February 23 2019

Join us at SCASA's official after party 24 February 2019! Come relax and unwind by the beach to celebrate our new SCASA National Coffee Champions.

Venue: Hops in Ballito (KZN), 14 Edward Place
Time: 19:00 until late
You will receive an armband at the door to access the tab.