Highlights from the World Barista Championship in Vienna
He is back from Vienna, with insights on new trends and blends, and most importantly, with a report from the scene. Shay Baniel, Israel's representative in the European Coffee Association, is here to tell us all about the other side of the coffee machine.
Let’s start from the end.
The winner of the 2012 WBC is Raul Rodas from Guatemala. This is his third year as a contestant at the WBC, and his experience and resolve were certainly evident throughout the competition. Rodas presented a nearly-perfect technique coupled with his charm and charisma. The successful combination of professionalism, high quality coffee and a compelling personality gave him the victory and the long-awaited “Coffee Trophy”.
But hold on, when did all that take place? Just this past week.
The WBC held its annual four-day flagship event, which gathers the best barista from around the world to present, compare and learn from each other coffee-making techniques as well as new blends and flavors of coffee and coffee-based beverages, as I told you my previous post.
Trends from the coffee championship in Vienna
If I had to put my finger on a particular trend that emerged as the winner in this year’s competition, it would undoubtedly be the filter drink, which is making a comeback with a vengeance. Filter coffee, or in its professional name “brewed coffee”, is a favorite in many countries, such as the USA, Canada and various north-European countries. Over the years, espresso took the place of filter coffee as the “right” coffee to drink for those who want to experience a truly good coffee. And here, in Vienna 2012, the most notable trend was to bring back filter coffee as the “right” and trendy beverage, which is, indeed, just as good as espresso
Perfect Blends – Do they Exist?
During one of the “heats” in the competition, contestants were asked to compete for the Brewer’s Cup. This heat tests people who make the perfect coffee blend from special beans that they select and roast to perfection, creating the perfect cup of coffee.
Meanwhile, 10 out of the 12 semi-finalists chose filter coffee as the special drink they concocted. Typically, the special drinks prepared by WBC contestants symbolize and “predict” the next trend.
Raul, the winner, made espresso (mandatory) and combined it with three simultaneously-prepared types filter, to create (in his judgment) the perfect coffee experience.
The New Barista Figure
Another trend manifested in the competition this year was the emergence of “the barista “, a professional who possesses traditional capabilities of coffee making and milk frothing, but who is also, primarily, a coffee expert whose professionalism is tested on the ability to select the right beans, roast the beans to desirable level, “build” the drinks and make the perfect product.
During 15 minutes of competition, the contestants focused on demonstrating their ability to select and build a perfect blend, so that in fact two-thirds of the competition were devoted to coffee naming and only one-third to traditional barista skills.
For those of you who were wondering, the rationale behind this change is the desire to create coffee shops, which are a complete business unit. People import green beans, roast them and eventually make a cup of quality espresso with them. A coffee shop which is the perfect coffee experience
Like every year, I was amazed to see that despite being a competition that contestants were eager to win (and have practiced for a long time to get there, trying to win the desired title) – this event was a show of sympathy and encouragement. The atmosphere throughout the competition was amazing, and the audience cheered contestants and showered each one of them with love.
I especially enjoyed seeing how all contestants helped one another, exchanging equipment and tips. In order to enhance the experience and create bonding, everyone went out together every evening. It was nice to see how they all connect to the same get-together of people of all ages and from various countries, with one common factor that brings them together: their profound love for coffee.
See you in Melbourne, Australia in 2013 for the next championship!