Last week, Keith Blackburn from Raphoe, represented Ireland in the ‘Coffee World Cup’ in Australia.
The World Brewers Cup Championships is extremely competitive and features baristas and coffee roasters from all over the world.
Keith works with New Kid Coffee, Letterkenny’s first commercial speciality coffee roaster. The Donegal barista and roaster was recently awarded the Irish Brewers Cup Champion 2022. He was then selected to represent Ireland in the prestigious world championship.
Coffee fanatics and experts from across the world gathered for the four-day event in Melbourne, Australia. Keith travelled to Australia with
Richard Finney, owner of New Kid Coffee Roasters and the Counter Deli, Letterkenny.
“It was funny, some countries had a full entourage and then there was just us two Irish lads in the corner,” he said.
“The competition was highly competitive, others had been doing this for years and we knew we were going to be the underdogs before we went. For a small business from Donegal it was massive. There were competitors with millions (of dollars) behind them… Some of the competitors even had teams of scientists working alongside them. To be able to even share the stage with them was a massive achievement.
“We are still trying to unpack it all. By the time we got over there the first two days were lost to jetlag, then we had the four-day conference which was very intense and before we knew it, we were flying back,” he said.
Talking to the Donegal News, Keith looked back on how their journey to the world stage started.
“The whole thing started back November, with a conversation between me and Richard. We were chatting about coffee competitions and we said if the chance ever came up we would give it a go – we didn’t expect our bluff to be called so soon,” he said.
The Irish Brewers Cup Championships was announced for early February 2022, the crew had very little time to prepare. So when they announced he had won the competition, Keith was shocked. “I thought they had made a mistake,” he laughed.
Thanks to Keith and the team at New Kid we now have one of the best cups of coffee in the world at our doorstep.
Since their opening in 2019, New Kid has quickly become one of the top purveyors of coffee in the county. “We supply over 35 coffee shops here in Donegal, and as far as Wexford.”
The food and drink scene across Donegal is currently thriving. Keith explored our rich history of high quality products produced in the county, and how he is excited that coffee has been added to the list.
“In Donegal we have seafood, beef and fresh produce, some of the best in the country, but there was no coffee scene, For years there was no real choice, if you got a coffee in a hotel, you got a cup of instant. It’s fantastic to see a big change.”
Keith and Richard are both competing in an upcoming Irish AeroPress Championships, the knockout competition takes place in Galway on October 16.
“Hopefully one of us will win, so we can go to Vancouver before Christmas,” said Keith.