It’s all happening at Veneziano. The team is still celebrating a triple win at the 2012 Victorian Barista Championships and a public cupping room is almost finished at its Abbotsford roasting plant and café.
Co-owner Craig Dickson says a retail showroom is set to open in Adelaide next month and he’s working on increasing the company’s direct-trade relationships.
“The business started nine years ago,” he says “and it’s grown at 25 to 30 per cent each year.”
Veneziano has had barista champions before, including 2008 World Barista runner-up David Makin and Australia’s 2009 latte art champion Erin Sampson, but Dickson is pretty happy with this year’s team effort.
Craig Simon, the company’s production manager, took out both the barista and the cupping (tasting) titles, while barista Jen Marks won the latte art title with her signature art “snowflake” design consisting of five rosettas.
It was a frantic couple of weeks for barista, coffee roaster and jazz drummer Craig Simon. He notched up a double win at the Victorian Barista Championships and made the finals of the National Jazz Competition held at Wangaratta.
Simon, who qualified earlier this year as one of Australia’s few Q graders (a coffee assessor licensed by the California-based Coffee Quality Institute), has been competing in barista competitions for the past three years and says he’s had an uncanny knack for coming fourth.
He began working at Veneziano 4½ years ago, after a stint at high-volume Albert Park café Dundas and Faussett.
“Being a barista can be physically demanding. It’s a tough gig and lots of people end up with wrist and elbow problems,” he says. Training for competitions is demanding, too.
“The first time I competed, I came in two hours early every morning; it took me four weeks until I could make two handles (portafilters) exactly the same, but you’ve got to get it right.
“You can stand behind a coffee machine on any given day in a café and make thousands of coffees, but you only make 12 in a competition.”
The First Pour
22 Bond Street, Abbotsford
Phone \ 9421 5585
Barista \ Craig Simon
Coffee \ Veneziano
Barista’s choice Double ristretto flat white
Open \ Monday to Friday 7am-4pm; Saturday 9am-1pm
The retro ’70s wallpaper and the lurid yellow espresso machine have gone – thanks to a flashy four-month-old renovation – replaced by subtle black and grey tones, a teal feature wall and a matte-finish timber counter holding pastries. There’s still a La Marzocco espresso machine, now covered in funky graffiti that’s reflected in the staff T-shirts and cartoon images on the rear wall. Bags of roasted beans on metal shelves are accompanied by tasting notes and details of provenance but there’s nothing to tell you what’s in the espresso machine – make sure you ask.