ASCA Coffee Competitions: The Pinnacle of The Coffee Industry

The ultimate specialty coffee experience


The Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Coffee Championships are not just a competition; they’re the epitome of the ultimate specialty coffee experience. As I walked into the venue, the air was buzzing with the unmistakable energy of passionate coffee enthusiasts. It was not just a gathering of professionals; it was a congregation of individuals united by their love of the perfect cup.

The room was filled with the friendly chatter of coffee professionals meeting once more, and the sound of coffee being brewed created a symphony of its own. The ASCA Coffee Championships brought together the best minds and talents in the entire coffee industry, creating an atmosphere where knowledge flowed as freely as the coffee itself. The conversations were not just about the technicalities of brewing or the nuances of roasting; they were about the emotions that a perfect cup could evoke.

Perhaps the brew bars on the upper level were the most captivating. Here, the top roasters in the country shared their coffees. They also shared the stories of the coffees. From how they selected the lots, to the innovative processing techniques used at origin. Again, knowledge flowed freely.

Every corner echoed with discussions on the latest trends, innovative techniques, and the ever-evolving world of coffee. It was an experience that went beyond the taste buds; it was about the culture, the stories, and the passion that makes each cup unique.

But then there were the competitions themselves. When the competitors started their presentations, a hush fell over the room as the audience listened intently to the latest brewing methods, the latest coffee trends. Past champions watched on. Budding baristas from local café’s listened, seeing their potential futures in front of them. Teammates watched with bated breath, hoping that all the effort and practice of the weeks and months prior would ultimately pay off with a flawless performance on the big stage.

The energy reached a crescendo with the announcements. Here, the industry’s intense passion for their beloved coffee bubbled over in raucous celebration! As it was my first time to the national coffee comps, I honestly couldn’t believe the noise when the winners of each competition were announced. Quite truly it was deafening!

The ASCA Coffee Championships were a celebration of the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into every pour, and being part of it was a journey into the heart of the specialty coffee world. As I soaked in the atmosphere, all I could think of was Zest’s well used saying – ‘education brews appreciation’. And, goodness, was there appreciation in that room!


Team Zest Pushing IT AT THE TOP LEVEL


Team Zest is thrilled to announce that our Creative Director, Julijan Markovic, took out third place in the ASCA Brewer’s Cup Final. In Australia’s packed specialty coffee industry, third place is a tremendous achievement and is a testament to Julijan’s passion for coffee.

Julijan’s presentation on the mystery of filter coffee was truly special for our team at Zest. His explanation that our enjoyment of filter coffee transcends the flavour, but is truly linked to the entire experience of coffee, resonates with Zest’s passion to tell the story of coffee from farm to cup. Coffee is a story – from the farmer and his processing methods, along the entire journey until the barista, the final custodian of the bean.

In Julijan’s words:

‘You want coffee to connect with your audience as much as possible. You want immersion, you want curiosity, you want their imagination’.

‘Flavour is contextual, and the way we perceive it day-to-day changes, it’s shaped by our mood, our environment, the presentation among other things. As a result, the flavours we cherish in coffee are linked to the experience. Craft these moments with care and your audience might taste more than just coffee.’

‘Coffee is holistic. It’s an entire experience, more than just the sum of its beans. It’s not merely about consuming, it’s about engaging’

Julijan was just one of many representing Team Zest, who made a formidable presence at the ASCA Coffee Championships, with a further two competitors showcasing their expertise in different categories. Darren Stinson rubbed shoulders with the top roasters in Australia in the ASCA Roasting Competition final, while Karl Lee showcased his skills in the ASCA Cup Tasters competition, unfortunately falling in the semi-final. Aryan Aqajani, an ASCA head judge, along with Darren Stinson and Ajay Sonani as ASCA judges, continued to represent our brand’s commitment to excellence.

And cheers to Simon Gautherin, the coach for both Julijan and Darren. Without his tireless and professional support, Julijan and Darren may have found themselves in a different position today. The competition was not just about winning; it was a testament to Zest Coffee’s commitment to nurturing talent and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the specialty coffee industry.



Zest Coffee’s presence at the ASCA Coffee Championships goes beyond the competition; it underscores why cafes, cafe owners and barista’s should consider Zest as their go-to coffee supplier. Zest is not just a brand; it’s a trusted voice in the Australian specialty coffee industry. A voice which we invite you to follow.

Zest is fanatical about flavour, and it’s not just a catchphrase; it’s a commitment to delivering coffee that helps you sell the second cup. The competition-level knowledge showcased at the championships is the foundation of in-depth conversations about roasting and brewing, the discussions following copious cuppings. This is the knowledge that is encapsulated in our specialty coffee blends and single origin offerings.

But it doesn’t end there. This competition-level knowledge is the driving force behind Zest’s training programs. As we continue to make waves in the industry, Zest is gearing up to release new training programs, ensuring our knowledge becomes a valuable asset for cafes and baristas looking to excel in the competitive world of specialty coffee. Check out our new training page HERE which will be updated as our new courses are released. Keep your eye’s peeled.

Ultimately, Zest Coffee’s experience at the ASCA Coffee Championships is a testament to our commitment to excellence. As a café owner or barista using Zest, you know that you are following and using industry leading knowledge which will help you deliver exceptional coffee experiences to your customers. After all, in the world of specialty coffee, Zest is not just a brand; it’s a beacon of passion, knowledge, and unwavering commitment to flavour.