Thomas Hutchins of Code Black Coffee crowned 2023 Australian Brewers Cup Champion

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Thomas Hutchins is the 2023 Australian Brewers Cup Champion.

The Head Trainer at Code Black Coffee in Melbourne won his first Australian Specialty Coffee Association title on 12 May at The Industrique in Coburg, Victoria.

Devin Loong of Ona Coffee was runner-up, and David Train of Ally Coffee placed third, beating a tight field of competitors.

An actor and musician by night, Thomas moved from Queensland to Melbourne six years ago while touring with ‘The Hamlet Apocalypse’ at Theatre Works. He has always been drawn to the city’s famous arts and coffee scene.

“I started working in coffee to fund my creative practice and since moving to Melbourne, it has become my daytime career and passion,” Thomas tells BeanScene.

“I love sharing my knowledge with others. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some wonderful teachers and trainers in my career who have paved the way for me and encouraged me to compete. They inspire me a lot. To share the stage with these competitors was such an honour. To hear my name called [the winner], is just bewildering.

“I think my years of performance experience definitely helped me this week. I feel comfortable reciting a script on stage. Maybe for the first time, my strange career is starting to make sense.”

Thomas’s performance concept was flavour memories, in which he aimed to connect with the judges on a more personal level, and talk about flavour a little differently.

“I wanted to break down a lot of walls between the consumer, the barista, and flavour communication. My presentation includes personal memories that are triggered when I taste this coffee, such as the first time I was in a lolly shop as a kid, and my aunty Paula’s magical rose garden,” he says.

But pairing flavour memories is only possible with a killer coffee, Thomas says. He chose an anerobic natural Chiroso from Las Flores in Colombia thanks to producer Jhoan Vergara.

“I have never tasted coffee like this my entire life. It has insane confectionary sweetness, and aroma and flavour notes of passionfruit, tinned peaches, purple grapes, strawberries, and rose,” he says.

“Part of the challenge of brewing an anaerobically fermented coffee has been intimately tracking the aging process and controlling the intensity. While there was much trial and error, when this coffee peaks, and the stars align, it is one of the sweetest, and most wonderfully complex coffees ever.”

For his brew, Thomas used a metal Hario V60 and Hario drip assist with 20 grams of coarse coffee and 300 grams of custom made 145 parts per million water split evenly over four pours of 75 grams. The water temperature for the first three pours was 95°C, and 85°C for last pour for a sweet, long finish.

“I fell in love with the V60 brewer many years ago. It’s my favourite brewer. It’s the brewer I use at home. I wanted to use an affordable, familiar brewer to be consistent with my concept that focuses on inclusivity and accessibility,” Thomas says.

Helping him each step of the way was Code Black Operations Manager Archie Chiu, Head Roaster Allan Yeh, Senior Roaster Amber Cheng, and Coach Mark Jamieson.

“This victory is as much theirs as it is mine, without a doubt,” Thomas says.

“This was my first ever competition, and my goal was to participate and give it my best shot. Very quickly, I started to realise we had everything we needed to win. I have the best team, and they invested in me heavily. While I knew winning was possible, I still can’t believe we are taking the trophy home.”

Source: Bean Scene Mag

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