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Her Coffee: Lucas, your local barista

Tess Parisotto

If you’re a die-hard coffee lover than you may have heard about the recent Australian Coffee Championships that have just taken place in Melbourne and where a number of local Canberra baristas competed, and claimed some pretty prestigious national titles. Canberra’s very own Sasa Sestic, owner of ONA Coffee, took out Australian Barista of the Year while Lucas Woods, acting manager of Coffee Lab, snapped up the top spot in the Australian Coffee in Good Spirits competition. Sasa will go ahead to compete internationally in the World Championships in April, and Lucas in June.

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These are some pretty amazing achievements, and what’s more they’re coming out of little old Canberra. Who’d have thought it? Our humble old city is now home to two of the country’s best baristas! Sasa and Lucas have really put Canberra on the map as an up-and-coming coffee destination, proving that we’re not just a lifeless city of public servants and politicians.

Bursting with pride for my city, and excitement for what these championship titles mean for Canberra, I thought it might be nice introduction to a new series that let’s you, the local reader get to know our local baristas for more than just the coffee and smile they serve. Not to mention, in some sense, they’re kind of life-savers. I know I’d drop dead if it weren’t for my morning coffee, and I’m sure many of you could empathise with that sentiment. So, dear readers, I’d like to formally introduce you to your local barista (and saver of lives), Lucas Woods.

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At just 20 years old, Lucas has quite an impressive reputation around town. He’s considered one of Canberra’s most talented and skilful baristas, comparable to some of the best working baristas in Melbourne.

He begun working in hospitality at 15 and soon after decided he wanted to make a career out of coffee. At 17, he started working in specialty coffee at Urban Bean and eventually made the move to Coffee Lab last year. He was closely involved in the building and set up of the cafe bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience.

“We have one of the best bar set-ups in Canberra and we have awesome coffee all the time,” Lucas says. “[When you come to Coffee Lab] you can always expect tasty coffee and knowledgeable staff. We experiment with a range of different brew methods, extraction, formulas per ratios, strength—pretty much everything.”

Coffee Lab is concerned with the science of coffee more so than the aesthetics of it. Let’s just say you won’t see Lucas going out of his way to put pretty pictures in your coffee, but he’ll make damn sure it tastes good. And after winning the Coffee in Good Spirits competition, he’s proven that he’s definitely not just your average barista.

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Competitors were required to make four drinks—two cocktails using Grand Marnier and coffee and two Irish coffees, in just eight minutes. That’s just two minutes per drink! They were judged upon taste, appearance, creativity, hospitality skills and even the cleanliness of their workspace. Lucas competed against the best in the country and came out on top—a testament to his disciplined work ethic and stellar skill-set.

Coffee in Good Spirits is very underground,” Lucas says, who is hoping to host a ‘Cocktail Night’ at the Cupping Room in the future to showcase more Coffee in Good Spirits drinks and spread the word of the underground into the community.

So what’s next for young Lucas? Well, he’s already head barista and manager of one of Canberra’s best coffee destinations, but he’ll be representing Canberra at the World Barista Championships in just a few weeks’ time—no biggie but he certainly has bright and exciting future ahead of him.

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Although his aspirations reflect a more subdued attitude when it comes to his plans for the future Lucas simply says, “I want to continue learning more about coffee…and keep enjoying myself.”

Just one of many noteworthy baristas around town, Lucas is just one reason I urge you to get to know them all!

I’d like to think that something we do well in our city is encourage and support each other. We’re a passionate and vibrant community who thrive off each other’s success. We bind together in such a unique way, building on our strengths and celebrating our achievements both individually and as a city. So the next time you’re at your local coffee shop strike up a conversation with the people behind the machine and #gettoknowyourlocal barista. Live up to that classic Canberra mentality! Besides, our city and the people in it are just too awesome to ignore.

The essentials
What: Coffee Lab
Where: Narellan Place, Canberra City
When: 7am-4pm Monday to Friday
Web: Find Coffee Lab on Facebook.

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Tess Parisotto

Tess Parisotto is a 21 year old freelance writer and University student currently studying a Bachelor of Writing at the University of Canberra. Born and raised a Canberran, Tess loves her city and being a part of the Canberra community. She has a love for all things local, and is a self-confessed coffee nut, fiercely passionate about coffee and cafe culture in general. Follow @tessparisotto on Instagram for your daily dose of Canberra goodness and other pretty things. More about the Author

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