Jo from Guardhouse Café wins SW barista competition

Jo from Guardhouse Café wins SW barista competition

It was firsts all round as espresso maker Johanna Harakis won her first barista competition – the competition was also the first held by regional coffee roasters Owens Coffee.

Johanna, who works at The Guardhouse Café at Berry Head, Brixham, was named the first Owens Coffee barista champion in a new contest to find the best espresso maker. Baristas from across the region competed for the title. Luna Moretti of The Guardhouse Café was also shortlisted.

Johanna said: “This is my first ever barista competition so I’ve been a bit nervous. You’ve got to make sure the coffee comes out at the right speed – about 22 to 25 seconds – and the weight of the coffee is around 16 to 18 grams.

“If it’s too quick it comes out bitter and acidic – if you get it right it’s smooth and it’s lush and you get a really good hit.”

Jenny McDonough, head of training and talent at Owens Coffee, said there was a serious side to the competition.

“I’ve been in the hospitality industry for a long time in the South West and the feeling that you are just a waiter or just someone serving coffee is something I’d like to see the end of – because it is a career, a profession,” she said.

“We want people who are working in the industry to know there’s a lot more out there if they want it – and we want them to know they are respected in the profession.

“It is important to encourage talent and professional ability, which is something that we champion at Owens.

“There are different brew ratios and there are guidelines on how to make the perfect espresso.

“The competition tested the barista’s knowledge and their interpretation of those guidelines. Competitors chose one of our coffees for the espresso and two milk-based drinks and then told the judges how to set up the calibration of the espresso machine to make the perfect cup.”

Lorraine Bridden, founder of Owens Coffee, said: “We take a huge amount of pride in sourcing our coffee beans and roasting them to perfection – but you can make or break a cup of coffee if the calibration in the machine isn’t right. It’s about getting the flavours right and presenting the coffee.

“A good cup has to taste right and be well presented. But the competition is not just about the coffee – it is about enthusiasm and passion too.

“This is about showcasing good barista skills across the region and because of this, our first competition has been a great success – hopefully, we will make it bigger in the future.”

Guest judge Esther-Hope Gibbs, added: “This has been a great event for baristas across the South West. There hasn’t been a competition like this for a long time in the region.

“These baristas have showcased their skills, have had an opportunity to meet and chat with other industry professionals who are as passionate about coffee as they are, and a chance to learn more from each other too. The prizes were fab, too!”

First prize included an Ottomatic CHEMEX Coffeemaker from Marco Beverages Systems worth more than £300. There were also prizes from Eversfield Organic, Flapjackery, Boo Chi Kombucha, Luscombe Drinks and Bar Buoy Cocktails.

Original story on Torbay Weekly

Thank you Alex

Thank you Alex

Pilots Perch is a charming three-bedroom cottage, with delightful sea views and perfectly situated for exploring Brixham. When owner, Denise Peach, ran into issues claiming a Restart Grant she turned to Brixham Chamber for help.

Alex Foley, who runs the popular and succesful Guardhouse Cafe, is also Vice-chair of the chamber and co-ordinated the Chamber’s reponse. He was delighted to help Denise, amongst others, achieve a successful outcome. Denise said “May l say a big thank you to Brixham Chamber of Commerce and especially Alex who has helped a novice work her way through the system to claim a Restart Business grant.

“Such a simple thing for many reasons wasn’t simple at all due to various issues. Alex was patient and understanding while being bombarded with many emails. He took the time to speak to me and listen. Thank you once again.”

Where can I get practical help?

Where can I get practical help?

In these difficult times, we are blessed with a caring  and considerate community where the majority of people are happy to go out of their way to help others in any way they can.

Facebook has become a rallying point for notifications of these triumphs of humanity over headlines. If you need practical help locally or know someone in that position, some of the links below may help point you in the right direction:

Helping Hands  – A fantastic group set up to help those who need a little extra help – “we don’t want those in need to suffer. If you know of anyone needing anything please let us know.”


Posters for those self isolating – Over 75, chronic illness, weak immune system

Brixham Town Council  has compiled a list of local businesses offering home delivery – – and some of these are also included below:


England’s Seafood FEAST 2019

England’s Seafood FEAST 2019

Following the success of the inaugural event in 2018, the English Riviera BID are once again cooking up England’s Seafood FEAST, a banquet for all the senses.

From 20th September to 6th October, businesses will be showcasing some of the best seafood in the world alongside the very best the English Riviera has to offer. This isn’t a conventional festival with a big marquee – instead you can enjoy a whole range of things to eat and do at venues across Brixham, Paignton and Torquay.

Brixham events include:

Seafood FEAST Sea Creature Hunt – a family-friendly, fishy-themed treasure hunt around Berry Head nature reserve, organised by the Guardhouse Cafe and Hunts Cider.

Love to share seafood at Breakwater Bistro – showcasing the very best of the south-west’s seafood with wine or beer to match.

Seafood Cruise on Provident and Leader  – guest chefs will be stepping on board heritage sailing vessels Leader (1892) and Provident (1924) offering three-course seafood feasts as part of a weekend cruise.

Sail on board Vigilance heritage sailing trawler – spend 3 hours aboard the last heritage sailing trawler to be built in Brixham, the beautiful Vigilance. Submerge yourself in history, and appreciate just how hard the ‘three men and a boy’ who crewed the boat worked to bring home the day’s catch.

Seafood Supper Club at The Curious Kitchen  – enjoy the very best seafood in a special 6-course edition of The Curious Kitchen’s supper club

The Rockfish Seafood Feast – a fabulous long leisurely seafood lunch at Rockfish in Brixham. Feast on a the finest shellfish extravaganza and enjoy live music from Mark Ely. With a chilled glass of Prosecco on arrival and unrivalled views over the harbour.

Brixham Fish Market is at the heart of England’s Seafood Coast. It’s a good place to start your own personal Feast – take an early-morning tour of the only live fish auction in the country, followed by breakfast at Mitch Tonks’ Rockfish Restaurant next door. This truly unique experience gives a new perspective on the fish on your plate – it is hugely popular.

Look out also for cookery workshops, wine tastings and coastal foraging.

For more information, visit

Combating plastic pollution

Combating plastic pollution

The English Riviera is being urged to actively support the campaign to ban environmentally devastating single use plastics.

Councillors want Torbay Council to sign up to the campaign being run by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and DevonLive/Herald Express so that the resort joins 125 other communities in Devon going plastic free.

At a meeting of Brixham Town Council on 22nd February,  councillors unanimously agree the motion put forward by Councillor Carr  “That this Council sets up a working group to explore the various options open to the community of Brixham in combating plastic pollution”

The Chamber of Commerce has recently started an initiative for Brixham businesses to commit to steps to reduce their plastic waste and single-use packaging as much as possible. A group of interested businesses have already started to develop a list of pledges such as “all our single-use packaging is biodegradable” and “we give 10% discount to customers who bring their own cup”.

The Chamber’s intention is to clarify the approach and then invite all Brixham’s businesses to get involved. Not only will this be excellent for the environment, it will also provide a way for our businesses to stand out from the crowd. The scheme is being developed by a group of hospitality businesses but all types of business are encouraged to get involved. If you’d like to sign up or for more information please email

Alex Foley of the Guardhouse Café who is leading the Chamber’s initiative said: “It’s impossible to visit Berry Head without being overwhelmed by the beauty of our local environment and wildlife. At the Guardhouse Café we feel we are the guardians of the beautiful headland and we have recently taken several steps to reduce our carbon footprint and in particular the waste from takeaway cups.

“The ones we use have always been biodegradable but now we’re going even further by adding an optional 25p charge, which we are giving to environmental charities, for every takeaway cup we sell. Customers are encouraged to buy our re-usable cups, made from bamboo fibre – we sell them for £7.50 and include a free drink inside them.”

These moves come as beach cleans are taking place across the Bay ahead of the season and volunteers recently pulled out a massive haul of waste and plastic from Brixham, both onshore and from the water. They picked up more than 800kg of other people’s discarded rubbish.

And following the recent storms, a huge amount of debris, including hundreds of plastic bottles and containers of all sizes, was washed up on to Churston Cove.

Thanks to hard work of  locals, walkers, volunteers and Torbay Cleaner Coasts Initiative the beach and the paths and woodlands immediately behind the beach are now clear of waste.



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