We sat down with Hugh Kelly from ONA Coffee moments before being titled the Australian Barista Champion for the second year in a row.
Looking around here at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, there are so many new ideas and innovations in the coffee industry, how is that important to what you do day to day?
An important part of my presentation this year was that there is all of this crazy innovation and there is heaps of interesting stuff that is happening within the coffee industry but it’s hard to connect that with customers, like if I start talking to my Mum about particle distribution or keeping my coffee degassed for the right CO2 percentage she is just going to look at me blankly and 99.9% of customers are going to do that as well.
I guess all of this innovation and effort is to make it easier and more consistent to produce delicious tasting coffee. Making it simple and easy is what the goal is and having people actually able to subscribe to the idea of specialty coffee. Innovation is leading to the ability to replicate a perfect cup every time and build trust with customers.
Do you ever see the innovations and inventions that are made for the Australian Coffee Championships, come into the cafes when you get home?
Yes, definitely. The EK43 grinder being used for espressos, that was popularised in competitions and we see that grinder a lot now in specialty coffee. Specific dosing tools that have been made for competitions are used in a lot of cafes now too. There is the Ona Coffee Distributer (O.C.D) which Sasa used when he won the World Barista Championships in 2015, we use that in all of our shops now to get the best consistency of our coffee between different baristas.
It was created basically to make coffee even in the basket before you tamp it, instead of using your hand you use this puck-shaped metal device that you spin on top of the coffee which makes everything even so your water flows through the coffee perfectly.
Are there any areas in the coffee industry that you would like to see more innovation?
Machinery needs to go a long way, we’ve gotten to a stage where the barista making coffee has progressed beyond where the machines are at. Having the ability to control all of your parameters and replicate stuff easily is something I would like to see a lot more of.
I also want to see a lot more understanding of bags, packaging and degassing of coffee so people understand when the right time to use it is, the why and how rather than guessing when the coffee is at its peak.
Processing at farms for consistency, so many coffees out there that could be extraordinary but they are ruined by something so simple as fermenting it for a little too long, but we starting to see innovative producers coming in and coming up with new techniques to control that, it would be grat to see that on a wider scale though.
Innovation is extremely important in the coffee industry. For a long time there hasn’t been complete control of all the variables involved at each stage from farm, roastery to café but were now starting to understand what these variables actually mean for us when the right knowledge and research is applied.
Are you passionate about innovation or know of someone who should be featured?
We would love to hear your story.
Dr Sarah Pearson, CEO of the CBR Innovation Network has announced an exciting partnership between the CBR Innovation Network and King & Wood Mallesons, PwC and Optus.
The partnership is based on a common vision to grow new industry and jobs by connecting innovative businesses, researchers and entrepreneurs; to promote their success and to accelerate innovation to build global competitiveness.
“If Australia is to grow its economy and secure jobs we need to help existing companies become more globally competitive, and new companies set up. Collaborating with large companies to help them become more innovative as well as connect them to start-ups and the research base is a crucial part of this, and we are particularly excited to be celebrating our new partnerships with KWM, PwC and Optus” said Dr. Sarah Pearson CEO, CBR Innovation Network.
The partnership has full support from the ACT Government “Canberra has many advantages that we must continue to harness if we are to grow our economy and create more jobs. We are working towards creating a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in our city, and it’s great that that these national corporations have recognised the potential of Canberra and are willing to invest in our innovation sector” said Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA.
Key features of the partnership will be mentoring, workshop and individual support from corporate partners to start-ups through their business, financial and legal expertise. It also includes collaboration on innovation programs and approaches to finding innovation solutions for corporates to help their growth, working with the whole innovation ecosystem; and to deliver innovation solutions to other clients and business support for the CBR Innovation Network in areas such as financial, legal and IT support.
“Innovation is one of King & Wood Mallesons top priorities and we know that collaboration is essential to successful innovation as much as embracing new ideas is. As a firm, we regularly run crowd sourcing ideations, hackathons, labs, coding boot camps and design thinking sprints, to promote internal collaboration to pro-actively solve pain points for our clients. We are delighted to formally partner with CBR Innovation Network, bringing big business together with academia, entrepreneurs and government to help accelerate innovation in Canberra,” said Michelle Mahoney, Executive Director of King & Wood Mallesons.
“PwC’s continuing sponsorship of the CBR Innovation Network is another demonstration of our commitment to the grassroots of Australia’s innovation ecosystem. We see investing in and supporting incubators such as this are an important part of the national ecosystem in term of the network effect around encouraging entrepreneurs to be bold and courageous, which will help avoid Australia being a net importer of ideas, products and services. Nowhere does this play out more than in some of the critical agendas we have around food trust, mental wealth and future cities. Incubators play an important role in supporting Australia’s future industry builders” said Alex Klat-Smith, Partner of PwC.
“Optus Business recently released our Smart Disruption report which identified the need for organisations to embrace a new mindset of collaboration and partnership. Creating an environment where learnings are freely shared will prepare businesses to more readily respond to changing customer needs and enable them to jointly build new business models. Our partnership with CBR Innovation Network creates the ideal platform for established organisations and start-ups to learn and grow from each other in Canberra,” said John Paitaridis, Managing Director of Optus Business.
It has been two years since the inception of the CBR Innovation Network, which has since developed a sophisticated innovation ecosystem in Canberra. Providing support to over 60 businesses and start-ups, attracting more than an estimated $24.5 million in investment and 20,000 visitors through the CBR Innovation Network.