Edinburgh barista set for UK coffee competition

Cat o'Shea of Artisan Roast. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Cat o'Shea of Artisan Roast. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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COFFEE queen Catherine O’Shea is full of beans – ahead of the finals of a search for the world’s best barista.

The 24-year-old is Scotland’s only representative at a prestigious competition to find a top coffee maker.

She roasted competition from more than 120 other coffee makers to reach the final 20 of the UK’s Barista Championships in London.

Now Catherine is hoping to find the perfect blend to steam through tomorrow’s event to reach the world championships in Melbourne next month.

She gave up her university degree to follow her passion of coffee, and is now a manager at Artisan Roast in Broughton Street.

Tomorrow, the pressure will be on as she will have just 15 minutes to prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos and four speciality coffees, in order to impress the judges.

She said: “It’s all about how it goes on the day, being able to produce a perfect shot when there’s the pressure of a live audience, and being confident in the coffee itself. I’m really chuffed to be representing Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland. I’ll be up against cafe owners in London,
operations managers and green bean hunters, so it’s all the big professionals. I feel a bit out of my depth, but I’ll do my best and hopefully that’ll be good enough.”

Catherine has worked at the bustling cafe for 18 months after falling in love with its speciality beans.

The Barista Championships, considered the toughest contest in the coffee world, will also test her coffee knowledge, presentation, preparation and all round barista ability as part of the weekend coffee festival.

She has spent months in training and has a secret weapon – a Rwandan coffee bean which tastes of dark cherry, nectarine and jasmine.

The barista, which is the Italian word for bartender, described her perfect shot of espresso: “It can’t be bitter and it can’t be sour. It’s about the way you extract the shots, how you set up your grinder and when to stop your shot at the perfect time. You only get a few milliseconds to get the perfect shot.”

Artisan owner Gustavo Pardo, who set up the business five years ago, said: “She’s a very passionate girl and I’m sure she’s in with a great chance.”

Full of beans

THE UKs love affair with coffee is booming, with twice as many people visiting a coffee shop every day now, compared with 2009.

Being a “barista”, or simply a bartender in Italy, has become a fashionable occupation as more people turn their backs on pubs in favour of the sober alternative.

Originally dubbed “penny universities”, coffee houses were a popular place to meet and read newsletters in 1660s Britain.Their resurgence is expected to continue with the market forecast to grow by 25 per cent in the next five years.