Our 2023 Barista Battle once again saw some of Australia’s most skilled baristas taking part in our latte smackdown to find out who had the pouring prowess to secure a place in the Australian finals at MICE.
Six heats, six states, epic prizes and high stakes … and a whole lotta MILKLAB.
So, who won? And how did it happen? Let’s dive in.
Like any great battle, our one has rules. Each Barista Battle state heat comprises a series of knock-out rounds followed by a final showdown — all overseen by our expert judges — to crown the state champ. Prizes include return flights to Melbourne for the national Barista Battle finals at MICE, Mastercard gift cards and more.
Each heat is limited to 24 competitors who competed across rounds. Judges decide the winner of each battle using set criteria covering various aspects of skill and presentation, including:
Here are the ground rules that help us ensure a level playing field and lively competition throughout the battles:
And now for the maestros of milk, the steam team, the latte luminaries … here are your 2023 MILKLAB Barista Battle state winners!
Where? The Grounds of Alexandria, Sydney
Winner: Sabita Lama, Leaf Café (120/150 points)
2nd: Anamika Dangol, Leaf Café (117/150 points)
3rd: Jun Lee, The Grounds of the City (115.5/150 points)
Sabita Lama won our Sydney heat with an homage to Amy Zhang’s masterful design, a riff on the iconic ‘Lotso’ bear from Toy Story. Anamika Dangol placed second with a mermaid design, and Jun Lee grabbed third place, pouring a unicorn. A tight battle with the three finalists separated by less than five points!
Where? Roasting Warehouse, Airport West, Melbourne
Winner: Darcy Jones, Axil Coffee Roasters (122.5/150 points)
2nd: Ming Wan, Ona Coffee
3rd: Kael Zhao
Our Melbourne winner was Darcy Jones, who drew for his secret weapon — an octopus design — to clinch the final showdown. Ming Wan of Ona Coffee was runner up and Kael Zhao came third in what was another ultra-tight contest decided by just half a point!
Where? The Coffee Commune, Brisbane
Winner: Saki Wakamatsu, Double Shot, Noosa (132/150 points)
2nd: Jake (Yue) Huang, The Single Guys Coffee Co, Kenmore (125/150 points)
3rd: Jeffrey Zeng, Seeds & Soul Coffee, Spring Hill (117/150 points)
Our Brisbane winner was Saki Wakamatsu, winning the final round with a stunning unicorn with stars design. Second was Jake Huang from The Single Guys with a bear design, and in third place was Jeffrey Zeng, who poured a unicorn. Our MC on the night, Rai from The Coffee Commune, summed up a great evening: “What a fabulous night of industry leaders! World class baristas using the finest products in a beautiful space! Who wouldn't want to be here?”.
Where? Dimattina Coffee, Perth
Winner: Mohammed Ramadani (Rizky), Offshoot Coffee (123/150 points)
2nd: Chuyun Yao (Lucy), Game City Espresso (112/150 points)
3rd: Fletcher Markham, Felix & Co. (110/150 points)
More than 100 baristas and spectators packed the house to watch our Perth smackdown unfold — wow! Rizky Ramadani was the winner, taking out the final round with a bunny. Lucy Yao came in second with a zebra design, while Fletcher Markham took out third with a seahorse design. Dimattina’s Head Roaster, Paul Markou was our judge and explained, “It was an amazing night with a great turn out and an insanely close finals! It’s crazy how good baristas have gotten at latte art, especially with MILKLAB alternative milks.”
Where? Altura Coffee, Adelaide
Winner: Bishal Jang, Melobo Café (118/150 points)
2nd: Sokly Chheom, Hello Stranger Café (93/150 points)
3rd: Xiang Li, Corner Store Café (89/150 points)
Bishal Jang won the Adelaide heat with a beautiful Pegasus design, while Sokly Chheom took second with a swan. Xiang Li placed third with a seahorse design. Benny from Benny’s Beans reviews (@bennys__beans) was watching the action closely and said there was, “An amazing atmosphere and plenty of smiles [...] delicious food and drinks watching some of the top baristas in Adelaide battle it out for the top prize [...] the MILKLAB team made a great effort to keep everyone involved with a merch giveaway between each round.”
Where? East Row Specialty Coffee, Canberra
Winner: Vinh Dang, Fox and Bow
2nd: Molly Hay, The Cupping Room
3rd: Kevin Yearling, Espresso Rooms
A big thanks to all our roaster partners and good luck to our six finalists who are locked in for the Aussie final smackdown at MICE! We’re celebrating 10 years of this legendary event with our most immersive MICE x MILKLAB experience to date, so there’ll be party vibes and fresh coffee treats galore. Stay tuned for more news on that soon …
Be sure to join us at MICE from August 17–19 to celebrate all things coffee and find out who will be crowned the Barista Battle 2023 Australian champion.
MILKLAB is proud to partner with Euphoria Social for a second year in a row to celebrate diversity and champion ALL baristas in our community.