2015 UK Barista Championship Semi-Finals Recap

This is a recap of Semi-Finals action at the 2015 United Kingdom Barista Competition in Glasgow, Scotland, happening March 4th-5th, 2015.

All photos are by Sprudge co-founder Zachary Carlsen for Sprudge.com. Want to use these photos? Please email us! 

Information is compiled from the @SprudgeLive livetweet feed, as called by Sprudge co-founder Jordan Michelman.

SprudgeLive’s coverage of the 2015 United Kingdom Barista Championship is made possible by direct support from La Spaziale UK. All of SprudgeLive’s 2015 barista competition coverage is underwritten in partnership with Square and Urnex Brands

We’re proud to serve as official media partners of the SCAE UK


1. Catherine O’Shea, Artisan Roast, Edinburgh @weecoffeehen @artisanroast 

Our first competitor of the day here at is Catherine O’Shea, representing Artisan Roast in Edinburgh. We had a nice coffee or three yesterday at the location here in Glasgow. FWIW = best twitter handle of

. competes here at with a Costa Rican gesha coffee — first gesha of the day, I’ll take the over on it not being last. [EDITORS NOTE: I would have lost this bet.] Look for notes of “peach” out of the Costa Rica gesha coffee — Jersey cow milk in her capps leading to “lemon meringue, caramel, and toffee sweetness with a hint of persimmon”.


For sig drink starts her judges out with a Chemex of Costa Rica gesha made w/ water infused w/ peach & jasmine. Ms. O’Shea asks judges to combine her peach, jasmine & mandarin Chemex with espresso — “that’s my signature drink.” She calls time at 13:07.


2. James Wallace, Laboratorio Espresso, Glasgow @JamesCWallace1 @labespr

Our next competitor of the day here at is James Wallace of Laboratorio Espresso, an “Italian-inspired artisan espresso bar” right here in Glasgow—this is Mr. Wallace’s first year as a barista competitor. Mr. Wallace is serving a Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo “funky” natural red pacamara. Learn more about this coffee here.

Capps from taste like “red wine booziness, gomme sweetness, and fermented strawberries.” For the Nicaraguan espressos, “bakers chocolate, bitterness…mallic acid acidity like a green apple.” Mr. Wallace’s signature drink consists of espresso with AeroPress filter, cold brew, and strawberry sherbert. He calls time at 15:46.


3. Jana Slamova, Baxter Storey, London @JSlamova @baxter_storey

Jana Slamova is representing Baxter Storey—for those outside the UK, is this country’s “leading independent contract catering services provider.” Baxter Storey’s got a proud competition culture from their coffee division, including 2014 finalist Don Altizo.

I kind of really like it when people play loose, vibey latin music during barista competition routines. I’m feeling it.


“Lemon acidity, syrupy sweetness, gentle cocoa-like bitterness…black currant” in ‘s Kenyan espressos. Capp notes for are “almond rapsberry bakewell tart — a smooth and silky experience.” If like me you have never heard of a “bakewell tart” before, click this link—”a Derbyshire favorite!” obvs.

Sig drink for has a black currant jam, Vietnamese cocoa bean infusion, French almond extract spray, and espresso. She calls time at 14:56.


4. Joe Meagher, Flat Caps Coffee, Newcastle upon Tyne @flatcapjoe

This is Mr. Meagher’s 4th season competing in the UKBC. He’s placed in UKBC finals for the last 2 consecutive seasons. Mr. Meagher’s competing with coffees from Finca Escocia and La Illusion, both from El Slavador. “Milk chocolate, round, grapefruit acidity with a dark chocolate finish” in his espressos—comp espressos normally get served in batches of 4, but  is serving his judges 2 by 2, pulling shots through mesh filters.

Jersey herd milk for ‘s capps — “like you’re having a strawberry ice cream in a wafer cone, where it melts together”. Keen soundtrack here as LCD Soundsystem’s immortal “All My Friends” melts into “You Wish” by Nightmares On Wax.


Sig drink for takes Tonka bean and red alaea salt infused espresso, lime and goji berry tea mixed with cucumber soda. Learn more on the Tonka bean, or Dipteryx odorata, via Wikipedia (where knowledge is power). Joe Meagher Calls time at 14:54.


5. Dan Fellows, Origin Coffee, Cornwall @DanFellows1 @origincoffee

Mr. Fellows is another experienced UKBC competitor— is his 4th consecutive appearance at nationals—and he is competing here at with ‘s Costa Rica Coopedota Natural Tarrazu—learn more here. “chocolate truffle” flavors in ‘s capps. He’s serving them two at a time.


Elements of cocktail glassware throughout the set for including a gorgeous cut glass wine decanter. His signature drink is liquid cherry, Cascade hops & Bolivian cascara infusion, nitrous oxide espresso fizz. He calls time at 14:51.


6. Dale Harris, Has Bean, Midlands @acousticcoffee @hasbean 

This is ‘s 6th consecutive UKBC nationals appearance; hes twice placed 2nd, in 2014 & 2010, but never won. We asked about his fashion: “I work in coffee. I am wearing generic clothes available from a high street store.” We asked Mr. Harris if he had a secret weapon at and he directed us to this video.


Mr. Harris competes with ‘s Colombia Finca La Chorrera, a washed caturra from Huila. Learn more here. Mr. Harris has his judges turn a 180 with their backs to him. messing with service styles. His signature drink ahs 4 different boxes with distinct sets of ingredients—wildly complex stuff.

Those boxes contain ingredients like licorice infusion, apple syrup, mallic acid solution, and clove oil emulsion. He calls time at 15:04.


7. Jimmy Dimitrov, Boston Tea Party, United Kingdom @jimmydimitrov @btpcafes

Up next it’s Jimmy Dimitrov, representing Boston Tea Party, a chain of cafes throughout the UK. Mr. Dimitrov of is competing here with a Guatemala Antigua from producer Pedro Echeverría. “Cherry, green apple, custard cream, toasted oats, and English toffee” notes for Jimmy Dimitrov’s espressos.


Mr Dimitrov’s signature drinks combines Bolivian cascara brewed over ice, espresso, cane syrup & lime juice. He calls time at 15:23.

2015 UKBC William Pitts The Brew House Portlheven Cornwall 043

8. William Pitts, The Brew House Portlheven, Cornwall @origincoffee

We asked to tell us something unique about himself. “I used to be a chef and I’m really good at handstands.” This is his first year as a competitor.

Mr. Pitts competes here at with ‘s expression of Ethiopia Suke Quto— EK43 for espresso. Learn more about the coffee here. For capps is using the Mythos One grinder and milk from , home to our delightful new friend .

2015 UKBC William Pitts The Brew House Portlheven Cornwall 059

Sig drink for Mr Pitts: Suke Quto, peach syrup, kafir lime & lemongrass tea, grapefruit skin soaked in jasmine oil, flamed. This is a really classic first year competitor routine from —you can see him getting better as he performs. He calls time at 14:30.


9. Jesse Dodkins, Camper Coffee, Exeter @baristajesse @campercoffeeco

Jesse Dodkins is another first year competitor, using coffee from Ethiopia’s Yukro washing station, in the the Jimma district. Camper Coffee is a mobile cafe built out of a restored 1964 VW Splitscreen Container Van.

There’s a politics theme running through ‘s routine, complete with sig drink service on an old ballot box. Clever! “Standards in coffee are set in an indirect democratic process, through industry-wide debate”—to illustrate democracy has the judges “vote” for a highlight ingredient. A wee election on stage.


Hey Jesse Dodkins is cruising up there, this is a head turning routine from the first year competitor from Exeter.”Hey, you’ve elected apricot! Sorry for the guys who didn’t get what they wanted. That’s how democracy works.” Mr Dodkins calls time at 14:09.


10. Don Altizo, Baxter Storey, London @donaltizo @baxter_storey

Don Altizo is a two-time UKBC finalist for Baxter Storey, including in the 2014 competition. “lemon, ripe cherry, and dark chocolate” in ‘s espressos—he’s another of many competitors using the official grinder sponsor Mythos One.


“soft toffee fudge and white chocolate” in Mr Altizo’s cappuccinos. For his signature drink,  combines lemon juice, red cherry & sugar reduction, and espresso. He calls time at 14:32.


11. Will Sumner, Artisan Roast, Edinburgh @artisanroast 

Mr. Sumner’s espressos by here at taste like “tangerine and toffee, with a cacao bitterness.” Carefully dosed & weighed espressos—”I have a .2 gram margin for error.”


Cappuccinos for Will Sumner taste like “toffee, vanilla, and mandarin right at the end.” Sig drink for Mr. Sumner has “a smooth body, with heightened sweetness”—plums, acidity. He calls time at 15:47.


12. Nicola Peacock, The Perky Peacock, York @theperkypeacock

The Perky Peacock is absolutely undoubtedly our favorite cafe name at . Our partners at work with in York—part of their growing team of partners in the UK.

“Plum—super ripe plum—then flavors of cranberry, and chocolate sponge cake” in ‘s  espressos, using coffee from Nueva Lusta in Bolivia. The running theme here at is —good coffee is booming across the UK, including at in York.


We asked about her tunes: “it’s a little classical music…you can’t acidentally sing along to that!” Supremely chill routine—signature drink takes apricot syrup, cascara, and lavender petals, quick infused. The drink is called “The Lady Lavender Pomplemous” because of course it is. Nichola Peacock calls time at 14:58.


13. Wes Bond, Bean Loved, Skipton @wesbond @beanloved  

“I compare being a roaster to becoming a dad—it’s a guardian role.” —  of at  Mr. Bond’s competing with coffees from a wholesale roaster here in the UK. Learn more. We’ll see three distinct coffees here—up first it’s Costa Rica Las Lajas, in the Central Valley. The second coffee is a Perla Negra Natural, also from Costa Rica—”orange & lime zest.” The third coffee in this service is a Las Lajas Black Honey processed from Costa Rica.


Sig drink from : orange & lime syrup, “tea” made from orange blossom, kaffir lime, verbena, & chincona bark, chilled espresso. That combo—the tea, syrup & espresso—is chilled over an ice bath then poured over ice to create a soft dilution, complete with dry ice fuming and billowing. Wes Bond calls time at 14:53.


14. Paul Ross, Harris + Hoole, London @Paul_Ross_ @harrisandhoole

Mr. Ross is competing here at with a washed Ethiopian coffee roasted by and marked as “Yayu Wild Forest”. This is first UKBC nationals appearance, & first year as a barista – he’s been with just 8 months—he got to represent at regionals by winning the company’s hotly competitive “Hoolympics” in-house competition.


Hey a Dr. Aaron Davis and shout out here from —routine is about the benefits & challenges of wild coffee. Sig drink time for the young man from —Indian tonic water, Italian honey, jasmine tea & espresso. End result of that sig drink combo tastes like “orange and jasmine cream soda.” Mr Ross calls time at 15:01.


15. Estelle Bright, La Marzocco UK, London @estelle_coffee @lamarzocco

This is ‘s 5th UKBC appearance, and follows two consecutive second place finishes in 2013 and 2014. This routine is themed around social media, connectivity, and support systems. She’s serving a French Mission Kenya bourbon natural from producer Boyce Harris of Chania Estate, roasted by Sang Ho Park of Square Mile Coffee and sourced by Cafe Imports.


Sig drink: blackberry reduction in a hip flask, espresso & cocoa syrup, shaken over berries w/ a blueberry spritz — resulting drink is this luxurious beet red blueberry tinted berry red and brown — gorgeous! And now to complete this routine, Estelle Bright takes a selfie with her judges. “This is where you finish the journey with me.” She calls time at 14:45.

16. James “Westy” West, Union Hand Roasted, London @unionroasted

James “Westy” West has seriously wounded himself in a recent motorcycle accident and is competing at UKBC in a full leg cast. This is not something I’ve seen before in 5 years of calling these shows around the world.


“Orange, lime, cranberrry, and a tannin tea-like finish” in Westy’s espressos — cappuccinos taste like “vanilla, butter scotch, and a little bit of biscuit.”


This routine makes great use of AC/DC’s “Touch Too Much” from Highway To Hell. Song of the day, or song of the year, or best song ever in any barista competition? Y / Y / Y

Sig drink for James “” West takes espresso, cascara, AC/DC, Glencairn whisky glasses, a leg brace, and lime juice. Wounded or not, he calls time at 14:53.


17. Jessie May Peters, Gather & Gather, London @jessiemaypeters @gatherandgather

Jessie May Peters extolls the unappreciated virtues of fine coffees from Brazil, and she competes with coffee from Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF), naturally processed. This routine is themed around “The Virtuous Circle of Good Coffee” focusing on coffee’s power in social, economic and environmental spheres.


Sig drink for is visually layered. In our interview with her proposed potential names include “Density Complexity” or “Tiers for Fears”. It’s layered with kumquat & vanilla syrup, espresso middle, and a dark chocolate & maple syrup sabayon on top.

Jessie May Peters calls time at 15:40.


18. Kieron Carney, Baxter Storey, London @kpmcarney @baxter_storey

Kieron Carney is a first-time competitor at the UKBC — he’s part of team and based at the Royal Exchange Theater in Manchester.


Kieron Carney’s serving Brazil yellow bourbon cappuccinos — “it works really well in milk.” His capps have “”milk chocolate, all-butter fudge, and a hint of walnut”

Kieran Carney of and calls time at 15:36


19. Diana Johnston, Workshop Coffee, London @baristasaurus @workshopcoffee 

This is Diana Johnston’s second consecutive UKBC semi-finals appearance, and third year competing at the national level. She’s competiing here with a natural processed catuai coffee from Brazil, marked as “Alto Paranaiba.”

This routine from is built around her relationship with a regular. It’s about meeting & changing expectations…and serving hung over people accessible, interesting coffee.


Sig drink for takes hibiscus flower infusion, panela, espresso, and vanilla infused water spritz.

Diana Johnston of calls time at 14:51


20. Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, Colonna and Smalls, Bath @colonna_smalls 

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood is the sitting 2014 UKBC winner, defending his title. He’s a two-time winner and has twice advanced all the way to the World Barista Championship finals.

This routine makes direct references to the judges and score sheets throughout, “breaking the fourth wall.” Mr. Colonna-Dashwood competes with a coffee from Tolima, Colombia roasted by in London. It’s 100% caturra, with no Colombian government modified frankevarieties.

There’s a push and pull at the core of all this stuff, these competitions, and Maxwell hits it on the nose: “Espresso’s history is based on commodity coffee — but speciality coffee is based on cupping.”


Sig drink for Mr. Colonna-Dashwood contains pomegranate, grape skin, walnut, and cranberry infusions, brown sugar, and arrow root, served cool. He calls time at 15:04.