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Ireland’s top baristas are in the Liberties


Walking around Dublin is hard not to stumble into a dynamic coffee shop full of people working on their laptops or simply enjoying a cup of coffee with their friends.

Over the past decade coffee became a daily treat to everyone, doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a kick before a long day of work or just a little joy before starting a journey.  

Yet, finding a good coffee shop in Dublin might be a bit tricky and sometimes what was meant to be a nice treat could become an unexpected disappointment.

A couple of months ago all the best baristas in Ireland reunited in Dublin to compete against each other in the annual Avonmore Irish Barista Championship 2019.

Only six baristas passed to the second final round and only one will have the opportunity to go to the finals in South Korea.

Thomas Gallo and Conor Bacon with their honorable fourth and fifth places, are two of the six baristas who will compete in the final round.

When these two baristas aren’t competing with each other, they work side by side in the Reference Coffee coffee shop.

The small shop is mainly focused on take-away coffees and freshly baked doughnuts and is considered one of the top coffee shops in all Ireland.

Reference Coffee is located in Pleasant Street and since the opening, around one year ago, reached an amazing success.

Gallo is a 26 years old French barista who moved to Ireland two years ago to pursue his career as a professional barista.

Bacon is a 25 years old Irish barista and has similar ambitions.

They both started in Reference Coffee as a floor staff and baristas and since January received a promotion to a managerial positions.

“Being a manager it’s not a hard job but I have a lot of responsibilities and making sure the shop is running well and the customers are happy is one of the most important ones,” said Gallo.

The duo decided to participate in this years annual barista’s competition a year ago. For Gallo this was his first barista competition and for Bacon the third.

“I really enjoy competing and there is a lot to prepare for this competition because it is a presentation competition, a sensory competition and it is really challenging and tough to train for it,” Bacon said.

The competition consists of preparing four espresso coffees, four cappuccinos and four speciality drinks made from coffee and other ingredients, excluding alcohol, and this has to be done in 15 minutes time.

“It was my first time competing and I loved it, the training was really intense especially when you work full time and you are the manager at the same time, but I would definitely do it again,” said Thomas.

Both baristas said that the preparation for competition was challenging, but it also made them learn a lot more about coffees.

Reference Coffee changes its coffees quite frequently, so Gallo and Bacon were able to try many different flavours and pick the right coffee for the competition.

“I came across a coffee I really liked so after the picking process I had to research the history of that precise coffee and at the end I had to develop a speech for that coffee.” Bacon said.

Having two of the best baristas in Ireland in one coffee shop says a lot about the quality of the coffee served in the Reference Coffee.  

“It’s definitely the best coffee shop I ever worked in and I am confident to say that our standards here are really high, we have an amazing roasters and we use the best coffee in Europe and our aim is to keep the standards always really high and with no problems I can say It’s one of the best coffee shops in Dublin and probably in Ireland as well,” said Gallo.

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