Coffee Break with Mike Wells

Fresh after winning the SA Barista Championship, First Pour’s Mike Wells explains the secrets to his award winning coffees.

Congratulations on winning the 2012 SA Barista Championship. Did you train (prepare) for the event? Thank you. A lot of training and preparation goes into every competition. Many hours were spent tasting and fine-tuning my blend to get it tasting amazing, picking the right roast profile as well as perfecting all the technical aspects to my routine. It is quite a lengthy process but I always learn a lot during the months leading up to a competition.

In the Championship you had to produce four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks. What was (were) your signature drink? I decided this year to use the signature drink as part of my routine as a way of deconstructing the flavours I found in my espresso so the judges had a greater understanding of what they tasted. I used flavours I found in my espresso to represent the tactile elements of my drink: honey for sweetness, cascara tea for bitterness, strawberry juice for acidity, cherry for the aroma and soda for mouth feel.

I made the honey, strawberry, cherry and cascara (dried coffee cherry) elements into a dissolvable jelly using a gelatine agent so they looked like berries that could be picked, they then dissolved into cascara tea, and were added to a soda stream to give it spritz. I then layered the espresso on top of this in a glass.

Can you describe some of the blends you offer at First Pour? At First Pour we offer five blends that range from the more body-driven darker roast through to lighter more acidic blends. We also offer a range of single origin coffees. Our customers can choose from eight different coffees and also choose from seven different brewing methods as well as espresso. In the lead up to competitions I also have versions of my competition blend available so I can get feedback from customers.

You will be competing in the National Barista Championship in March. Will you offer the same signature drink? Or will you prepare something new? I am unsure at the moment. For me each signature drink I create is specific to the coffee I use. I am planning to head overseas before the nationals and pick and process the coffee at origin, bring it home, roast it and present it in the competition. Until I have tasted the coffee I am using I won’t know what I will do for my signature drink. I like the concept I used this year so I may build on that with different flavours.

First Pour Adelaide 111 Melbourne St

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