Well we put all the beer in the fridge this time. There was no way were were gong to be caught out again. We weren't, but we just had enough as over 60 people crammed into Eastcastle street or even stood on the benches outside and watched through our wonderful arched windows.
We were honoured to have another stellar selection of judges for this round as lead judge and superstar photographer Glenn Watson kept everyone in line and he was joined by the author of the World Coffee Atlas, Director of Square Mile Coffee and 2007 World Barista Champion James Hoffmann. Unfortunately Director of Dose espresso and coffee legend James Phillips was unable to make it on the night, but we hope he can make it for the finals, instead were were able to bring in 4 times UK Latte Art Champion and currnently ranked 4th in the world and owner of three cafes and a training academy in Winchester, Dhan Tamang to be a guest judge.
In a sure sign of the commitment of some of the UK's baristas, we also had two of them drive four hours from Sheffield to compete, as well as a competitor from Oxford and others from Winchester. This is massive, and the quality of everyone was exemplary. Each year the standard gets higher and higher.
But we got started bang on time, so once again we killed the lights, dropped Faithless Live in Brixton for some tunes and kicked off. The standard was again very, very high and even though the judges are amongst the best in the world, they still had a difficult time and often different opinions on their choices
In the end, after two intense rounds, these guys got through to the finals.
Jack from Origin
Tom from Store Street Espresso
Csaba from Chief Coffee
Paul from Origin
This week we are again honoured with our judges as Glenn returns to be lead judge and is joined by one of the originators of the London Coffee industry when he opened The Espresso Room back in 2009, Ben Townsend alongside the head trainer of Origin Coffee and current UK Barista Champion Dan Fellows.
Alex from Origin
Brenda from Department of Coffee
Shaun from Noble Espresso
Marco from The Attendant
Two mystery competitors from Curators - is Catherine competing?
Bartek from Store Street Espresso
Colina from Kaffeine
Zain from Saint Espresso
Johnathan from Terrone
Ben from Coffee Lab
Two mystery competitors from Prufrock
Nick from Coffee Lab
Joey from Upshot
Angelique from Cuisine de Poilane
Once again, we have some great photos up online for your to see all the action so please check out these ones here and do share them across all your social media channels with #smackdown16.
It is also a great indication of the depth of talent and number of baristas in London and across the Home Counties that we filled all 64 places a week before the heats started and still have 15 people in the waiting list in case of any drop outs.
Unfortunately 64 is the maximum number we can have to make it a short, sharp competition, so look out if you missed out for next September when #smackdown17 is on.
Have a great week and if you are competing on Friday, please be sure to check in when you arrive.