UKBC Finals Breakdown

Our friend, Glenn Watson, is a terrific writer and coffee photographer. He gave me all the lowdown on how the magical London Coffee Festival ”where the UKBC as well as Brewers Cup, Cup Tasters, Latte Art, and a host of other comps took place last weekend ”went. Check the June/July issue of Barista Magazine for Glenn’s extended coverage. His stunning photography looks eons better in print than it does online! But we knew you’d want the skinny on each of the finalists in the UKBC sooner than later, and Glenn provided it in spades ¦

(Be sure to scroll all the way through to see Glenn’s photos from around the entire Festival!)

#1. Joe Meagher

The first barista to compete was Joe Meagher from Flat Caps Coffee in Newcastle. Joe looked cool and collected whilst preparing his beverages, using a distinctive Devereux tamper and taking the judges on a journey through the tastes and aromas of the espresso before delivering the signature drink in a dainty margarita glass.

#2. John Gordon

Former double UK Barista Champion (2010/2011) John Gordon from Square Mile Coffee Roasters in London took the judges back to their childhoods to discover the sweet and bitter attributes of the coffee whilst providing them with a full sensory experience. John used a mixing deck and Sennheiser wireless headphones to provide the Sensory and Head Judges with classical music whilst he was making his coffee. The audience was played 3 alternative tracks chosen by John. The final sensory experience came from a smoking chamber filled with an aromatic that complemented his signature drink espresso, filling the glass the ingredients were mixed into, then drawn through the glass pipe.

Aroma chambers, test tubes and a mixing deck - all part of John Gordon's 2013 UK Barista Championships Semifinal routine
Aroma chambers, test tubes and a mixing deck – all part of John Gordon’s 2013 UK Barista Championships Semifinal routine

#3. Don Altizo

The only Contract Caterer to have made it through the heats, Don Altizo from Baxter Storey, drew breaths and then wild applause from the audience when they saw his latte art “ a person “ on the top of his cappuccino. Don first drew a ˜toilet man’, as the Sensory Judges affectionately refer to this design, during the 2010 UK Barista Championships. Don was using a specially commissioned coffee roasted by Greg Costello from Workhouse Coffee.

#4. Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood

2012 UK Barista Champion, Bath based Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (6th placed in the World Barista Championships in Vienna) took to the stage and the noise notched up a gear. There was a lot of support in the room for Maxwell. Earlier in the week another Colonna and Smalls barista Jason Gonzalez had won the UK Cup Tasters competition and Peter Grosvenor-Attridge (2012 UK Latte Art Champion) had also competed in the 2013 UKBC semifinal. Maxwell presented the judges with Blackberry’s processed two different ways, showing how taste is affected (similar in many ways to the effects of coffee processing methods). Maxwell also embraced the use of scales, first weighing the ground coffee then switching to smaller scales to weigh espresso volume.

Maxwell's espresso in his 2013 UKBC Semifinal round
Maxwell’s espresso in his 2013 UKBC Semifinal round

 #5. Chee Wong

Chee Wong (Taylor St Baristas) explored umami (pleasant savoury taste) flavours in espresso as his signature drink creation, using mushroom consommé injected into his espresso with a syringe. Following his confident performance Chee was crowned the Union Hand-Roasted Best Newcomer and will be travelling to a producing country with Union Hand-Roasted Coffee founders Steven Macatonia and Jeremy Torz. James Bailey (now at Workshop Coffee in London), the 2012 winner of this award, has recently returned from Rwanda and is already planning his next trip to origin.

#6. Estelle Bright

The final performance of the day was from the leading female barista in the UK – Estelle Bright (Caravan). Using a natural process (Ethiopian Yirgacheffe) Dumerso, Estelle’s signature drink accentuated the strawberry flavors. Imagine melting Neapolitan ice cream in a strawberry milkshake and you’ll get pretty close to the amazing smell and taste of this drink. Estelle’s espresso was judged best in the final, hitting all the taste descriptors given to the judges.

Estelle Bright from Caravan. 3rd Place 2013 UK Barista Championships.
Estelle Bright from Caravan. 3rd Place 2013 UK Barista Championships.

After the first regional heat Andrew Tucker, Managing Director of Sanremo UK (Official Machine sponsor of the UK Barista Championships) predicted that this may be the most competitive UKBC yet. He was proved right with the Top 20 cutoff at 475 points. Speaking just prior to the finals announcement Andrew said œThe entire Sanremo UK team have been so inspired by all of the 90+ competitors in the regional heats that Sanremo UK is delighted to confirm that we will be continuing to sponsor the UK Barista Championships in 2014 .

Andrew is one of our star comperes and we’d like to tip our hat in gratitude to both Andrew from Sanremo UK and to Jeremy Torz from Union Hand-Roasted for their dedication to the role throughout the 2013 competition season.

Jeremy Torz co-founder of Union Hand-Roasted was full of praise for the 9 newcomers (out of the 20 semifinalists) who had progressed through the heats and was particularly impressed that a contract caterer was represented in the final for the first time. Andrew said œWe’ve reached a tipping point where well-made hand-crafted coffee is being served in more and more locations away from the high-street and 14 of the semifinalists finalists were from outside of London . He went on to say œThere was a noticeably higher standard this year and this is a reflection on previous competitors who are now not only competing themselves but mentoring others to help raise the standard not only in the competition but in their local markets also .

In 2013 a record number of baristas used the K30 grinder from UK Coffee Events grinder sponsor Mahlkönig. This kept Ed Gooding busy throughout the year transporting grinders around the country and running between the practice room and main stage at each venue, fine-tuning and cleaning grinders between each competitor.

The 2013 UK Barista Championships Results (with scores) are;

Score Barista
644 John Gordon
627 Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood
610.5 Estelle Bright
602.5 Joe Meagher
548 Chee Wong
524.5 Don Altizo


John will be heading to Melbourne (Australia) to represent the UK for the third time at MICE (23-26 May 2013).



Glenn Watson is a coffee photographer ( based in London (UK), and travels the world in search of good coffee. Glenn is a coffee consultant for 5M Coffee, and is a Technical Judge for the UK Barista Championship. For the past two years he has held the role of UK Media and Communications director for the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). His work has been recently featured in Asian Geographic Magazine (Coffee & Tea edition), and on the SCAE UK website, and in various trade magazines. Glenn is available for commissions and can be contacted

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Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.