Battle of the Baristas

Top Coffee Craftsmen compete in the Mzansi Food & Drink Show’s Barista Battle Royale Challenge – A Tribute to Coffee Craftsmanship

by Tia
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Africa introduced coffee to the world, so it’s hardly surprising that South Africa boasts some of the finest baristas on the continent as well as a thriving coffee culture.

Next month several of the country’s top coffee craftsmen and artisans will be participating in the Barista Battle Royale Challenge – A Tribute to Coffee Craftsmanship at the not-to-be-missed Mzansi Food & Drink Show, happening over the long weekend of 15 to 17 June at the Kyalami International Convention Centre.

Quincy_Hlongwane

The three-day show will incorporate two previous independently held events – the Coffee & Chocolate Expo (which includes this debut Barista Battle Royale Challenge) and the Fire & Feast Meat Festival – as well as three new additions: the Fine Food & Wine Show, the Bar & Good Spirits Showcase and the Mzansi Food Market.

The man behind the Barista Battle Royale Challenge – A Tribute to Coffee Craftsmanship, is Quincy Hlongwane, who was happy to share some of his extensive knowledge.

How did you became involved in the wonderful world of coffee?

I have over 15 years of diverse experience in the hospitality industry. My journey began humbly as a waiter and bartender, but over time I advanced to become a food and beverage mentor at the University of Johannesburg. Throughout my career, coffee emerged as one of the most enigmatic beverages I encountered, captivating me with its intricate science and evolving nature. My fascination with coffee led me to the competitive arena of Barista Championships and I became one of the prominent technical judges at both regional and national levels; a role that allowed me to immerse myself in the highest standards of coffee excellence. My involvement with the Specialty Coffee Association of Southern Africa (SCASA) was instrumental in this journey, providing me with invaluable experience and exposure to world-class coffee. Currently, as one of senior managers at the University of Johannesburg’s (School of Tourism & Hospitality) commercial unit (TheKerzner@UJ), my passion for coffee continues to thrive. I find satisfaction in sharing my knowledge and experience with students and colleagues and anyone lucky enough to savour a coffee crafted by me. My dedication to coffee extends beyond professional duties, embodying a lifelong passion that I am lucky enough to pass onto others.

Tell us about the Barista Battle Royale Challenge – A Tribute to Coffee Craftsmanship.

This challenge will be the first of its kind. It is a platform where former champions and legends will get to unite in teams to demonstrate their expertise in the art of coffee crafting. It promises to be a celebration of skill, innovation and passion for the perfect cup. The programme will consist of three member teams going head-to-head, each with different roles in the production of espresso, milk and signature beverages, while showcasing their creativity and ingenuity. Two sensory judges will be selected from the audience to evaluate the taste, aroma and presentation of beverages. One technical judge, esteemed for his or her expertise in coffee craftsmanship, will assess the technical execution, precision and innovation of each team’s creations. Guest speakers will have slots throughout the three day duration of the challenge.

What advice would you give competitors?

Be yourself.

Have South Africans done well in international competitions?

We’ve had South African baristas representing us well on the world stage and I strongly believe that one day the title will be brought home from the global barista championships, which are governed by World Coffee Events (WCE). Let’s not forget Phuti Mmotla who won the Global Starbucks title in 2022.

We took advantage of Hlongwane’s passion to include two recipes of which coffee is a key ingredient.

Coffee Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
  • ½ cup strong espresso
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a square 22cm x 22cm baking pan with baking paper and set aside. In a non-stick pan, brown the butter over medium heat for 10-12 minutes. When the bottom of the pan has brown bits of butter solid and it starts to smell nutty, scrape it into a separate bowl. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl of browned butter and stir to melt completely. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla together on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the melted butter and chocolate and mix. Gently fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the pan cool completely on a wire rack then cut into squares.

Tiramisu

Layered chocolate tiramisu cake with mascarpone cream generated by artificial intelligence

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 230g mascarpone cheese 
  • 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups cold espresso
  • 3 tablespoons coffee flavoured liqueur such as Kahlua (optional)
  • 200g Boudoir Biscuits (i.e. finger biscuits)
  • Cocoa powder
Method

Add whipping cream to a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with handheld mixer, then slowly add sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Add mascarpone cheese and fold in until combined. Set aside. Add coffee and liqueur to a shallow bowl. Dip the finger biscuits in the coffee (don’t soak them- just quickly dip them on both sides to get them wet) and lay them in a single layer on the bottom of a 22cm x 22cm dish or pan. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the top. Add another layer of dipped biscuits, then spread remaining mascarpone over the top. Dust cocoa powder generously over the top using a fine mesh sieve. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours or up to overnight before serving.

The Mzansi Food & Drink Show is the brainchild of RX Africa, the company behind some of the country’s premiere events including Decorex JHB, Comic Con Africa, Africa Travel Week and FAME Week Africa.

Tickets for the show can be booked via Howler.co.za

For more information on the show, visit:

https://www.mzansifoodanddrink.com

The Mzansi Food & Drink Show

·     Kyalami International Convention Centre
·     Saturday, 15 June, from 09h00 to 18h00
·     Sunday, 16 June (Father’s Day) from 09h00 to 18h00
·     Monday, 17 June (Youth Day) from 09h00 to 17h00

Social media links

·     Tik Tok:         @mzansifoodanddrink
·     Twitter:         @MzansiFoodDrink
·     Facebook:      @themzansifoodanddrinkshow / @coffeeandchocolateexpo
·     Instagram:     @mzansifoodanddrink / @coffeeandchocolateexpo

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