Two top Christchurch coffee-makers will go head to head with three other national finalists this week for a place in a trans-tasman barista competition final, to be held in Melbourne next month.
Samantha Bodman, from Bush Inn Muffin Break, and Evelyn Tait, from Northlands Muffin Break, have battled 35 other baristas from across New Zealand to make it to the final five, and now they both hope to travel to the Bean Alliance in Melbourne for the final.
The annual trans-tasman competition sees Muffin Break baristas from New Zealand and Australia compete in regional competitions, where they are judged on quality and excellence in coffee preparation service.
Ms Tait says you have to be willing to put in a lot of practice.
"You have to be passionate about making great coffee as well as being able to learn quickly."
During the regional competitions entrants were each given six minutes to prepare an espresso, cappuccino, latte and a signature coffee, all watched by expert judges.
But competitors were judged on more than just how their finished coffee looked and tasted. The judging criteria includes preparation of their machinery and workstation, the technical skills of a barista, the sensory evaluation of coffee and their knowledge of the popular brew.
In addition, their passion for customer service also contributed to their final score, which was determined by the judges. Master roaster and Foodco coffee guru Fred Vains will judge the semis and finals.
Ms Tait said her three key steps to making the perfect coffee were creating a good crema, stretching the milk properly to get the perfect amount of froth, and always wearing a smile."
"What I enjoy most about being a barista is making sure all my customers receive quality coffee, every time," she said.
Ms Bodman said she has been working one day a week at Muffin Break for six years and loves making a great cup of coffee for her customers.
"I love seeing the enjoyment they get from the cup of coffee - that's the highlight for me."
She said the most important part of making a good coffee is getting the grind right so the coffee extraction is perfect.
The semifinals are being held in the baristas' stores this week, with the New Zealand Muffin Break Barista Champion travelling to the Bean Alliance in Melbourne for the transtasman final.
The overall winner will receive an iPad, a coffee machine and grinder for home as well as a $1000 Visa Gift Card. The 2012 Champion will be invited to participate in the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (all expenses paid) to be held in May.