The Little Bean That Could

Posted by Josette Dunn on 24th November 2010

Mahalia Layzell, of Mahalia Coffee, in Robe, South Australia, scooped the top gong at the 2010 CSRTM Sugar Golden Bean Roaster Competition and Conference held this weekend in Port Macquarie (NSW), roasting the opposition in the one of the biggest coffee roasting competitions in the world.


This year’s competition saw 1000 entries from across Australia, the largest in the event’s history, requiring two full days for judging alone. The introduction of two new categories also marked the exciting evolution of coffee in Australia.

Thrilled with Mahalia Coffee’s achievement after roasting coffee for over ten years, top roaster Mahalia Layzell stated that she wanted “to help educate the customer that you can have good coffee at home as well as in a café. I want everyone in Australia to have good coffee. Coffee is so important in everyone’s lives and when people drink it, they’re having their little moment in life, and I want to be a part of that. Coffee is a lifetime thing for me and I want to make it accessible to everyone.”

The competition is now in it’s fifth year, attracting the crema of the coffee crop – the best in Australian competitors as well as visitors hailing from New Zealand, America and Asia who attended the conference.

“The industry is getting more exciting and intense and you can see that reflected in the quality of entries this year. The passion comes from the roaster to the barista and then translates to tastes of the consumer. It’s an industry that’s ever-changing, especially with the new third-wave coffee phenomenon,” said Nick Milat, CSR Sugar’s Food Service Channel Manager.

The competition puts the spotlight on coffee roasters, an integral part of the 8.5 billion dollar coffee industry in Australia. The competitors spend months in research and development – researching and sourcing quality beans from all corners of the globe – with innumerable hours spent blending, roasting, and tasting to fine- tune the perfect cup to serve to their consumers and the judges at the Golden Bean. The winners receive gold, silver and bronze medals across eight categories* with the overall winners of the CSR Sugar Golden Bean Roaster Competition derived from the highest score between the ‘Milk-based’ and ‘Espresso’ categories.

Two new categories were added to the competition in 2010 – a ‘Single Origin Espresso’ category, adapting to the so-called ‘third-wave’ of coffee appreciation, and then at the diametric opposite end of the spectrum, a ‘Decaffeinated’ category. Coffees were judged over two days via heats, under the guidelines of nine grams of coffee per single pour with a 25-30 second extraction per espresso, made by eight professional baristas behind the machines. Judging this year was overseen by Justin Metcalf, Head Judge for the World Barista Championships and Head Roaster for Daily Roast Coffee in Melbourne.

To assist in delivering the coffee to the judges, eight champion baristas such as David Makin (five time Victorian Barista of the year, one time Australian Barista of the year and runner up in the 2008 World Barista Championships), Zoe Delany (head of Coffee Hit and trainer for Michel’s Espresso and Sunbeam) and Habib Maarbaniand (co-owner of Morgan’s Kitchen, NSW, all-round coffee enthusiast and a barista of six years) pumped out coffees from the 1000 entries.