Local barista aiming for stars

FORMER Coffs Coast coffee whiz Kirby Berlin is about to let off steam with the world's best.

Daughter of The Coffee Club Park Beach Plaza owners, the 21-year-old heads to Germany next month to compete in an international Coffee in Good Spirits Barista Competition after taking out the Australian award recently.

Now a manager at much-acclaimed The Maling Room in Melbourne's trendy eastern suburbs, Kirby's five-day trip to Cologne will be funded by the AustralAsian Speciality Coffee Association (AASCA), hosts of the local competition.

In the SCAE World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship the competitors are asked to make two identical Irish Coffees and two identical signature beverages to present to the judges. The beverages will be judged for taste, aroma and visual qualities.

Growing up in Coffs Harbour, Kirby's love of coffee-making started at a local Hole in One donut outlet in The Palms Centre, where, at age 15 her barista talents were spotted and she was headhunted to manage the local Gloria Jeans store.

“Mum and dad wanted to encourage my passion so they bought The Coffee Club franchise in Coffs Harbour, which they still own,” Kirby said.

“I've been in Melbourne for four years and since then I have become passionate about Direct Trade coffee. 'Fair Trade' coffee is a buzzword at the moment but the producers are really only getting about $1.20 a kilo. Under Direct Trade - retailers buying direct from the source - the producer gets around $6 a kilo. We buy our coffee from an Estate in Honduras.

“My next step is to invest in a roastery here at The Maling Room… and to win the Coffee in Good Spirits Comp in Germany, of course! And to think, it all started in a donut shop in Coffs!” Kirby said.

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