Road to the Brewer's Cup - Lisa-Laura Verhoest
Our very own Lisa-Laura won the UK Brewer's Championship this year and here she writes about her experience and talks about preparing for the World Brewer's Cup in November.
Doing something you love the most, and getting to take home the 1st place trophy is pretty awesome, I’m telling you. It’s been a journey - a good one!
I started working in the coffee industry in the winter of 2016, after giving up a live as an art gallery assistant. Three months after first setting foot behind an espresso machine, my boss at the time suggested I enter the UK Barista Championship. I asked “what, why?”, and he said “why the hell not?”. To this day I’m still not completely sure how I managed to deliver a full routine — I barely knew what I was talking about, let alone the fact that I could barely steam milk. But, that was the start of something — after that I got carried away.
When competition season came around in 2017, I decided to do it all over. Knowing what I had gained the previous year, I entered the UK Barista championship again, and entered the UK Brewers Cup too. Brewing was completely new to me at that point. Yet, I felt I had learnt so much from entering the UK Barista Championship the year before, that I could approach both competitions with a lot more ability and confidence this time around. So I thought I’d give it a go. I locked myself up in our training room, and made brew after brew. Unfortunately, I ended up being disqualified from the national finals for a technicality (note to self, always diligently read the rules), but learned an awful lot.
After the 2017 UK Brewers Cup I realised just how close filter coffee is to my heart and that it’s where my passion is; it just works for me, I understand it and I love everything about it. So much that I basically haven’t stopped brewing since. Whether it was making coffee for the office in the morning, or teaching brewing workshops on Saturdays.
Setting myself goals and doing the necessary work to achieve them, is what I need to feel alive. The goal for this year’s UK Brewers Cup was simple: know the rules inside out, build a strong(er) routine and find a coffee that truly represents what I love about coffee. Ace it.
I’m saying “I”, but competing is always a team effort. My colleagues Matt and Emily, coached me throughout. They kept me sane, were my second palate, put me back on track when I was drifting off. With the help of Simon, our head roaster, we decided on the coffee I was going to brew and present to the judges. I was also absolutely privileged to receive the Beyond the Bean bursary this year. The team behind Beyond The Bean has been supporting competing baristas for three years in a row now. Such a great initiative!
The World Brewers Cup Championship is coming up in November. Such a massive opportunity which I’m immensely excited about — not only do I get to go to Brazil but I also get to meet all the other national brewing champions from all over the world and talk to them about their experiences. Right now I’m focusing on closing the gap between the national finals and the world stage. I’m very ready to step up my performance and brewing for the worlds. It’s a different ball game. I’m good nervous. I’m excited. I can’t wait!
If you are looking for me in the meantime, I’ll be brewing.
LL's Recipe for the Kalita Wave
You will need 18.5 grams of delicious coffee ground like granulated sugar and 300ml of water (Waitrose Essential is my favourite)
- First pour 70ml of water for a 34 second bloom
- Three stirs at 24 seconds to agitate
- Second slowly and steadily pour the rest of the 300ml of water
- A brew time of 2 minutes 55 seconds.