In this post I will take you to the international arena and tell you about the World Barista Championship (WBC) that takes place in a different country every year. The WBC venue this year will be Vienna, Austria between June 12-14.
The Barista Olympics
The Global Barista Championships is perhaps the most important event in the away-from-home coffee domain. The purpose of this competition is to make the barista – which is an Italian word for a professional specializing in preparing hot, cold or alcoholic coffee drinks using a professional espresso machine – a more appealing profession. Through this competition, the coffee world is exposed to audiences that would not have been made aware of quality coffee without it.
In fact, this championship is the Olympics of barista, and the qualifications of a master-barista derive from many fields:
• Technical ability in operating machinery, fine-tuning of grinders and deep understanding of coffee extraction processes.
• Extensive knowledge in the coffee world, in various raw materials and an ability to formulate a distinct quality flavor that surpasses current products on the market
• Ability to invent coffee drinks
• Charismatic personality with traits of a performing artist
So How Did it All Begin?
The championship was founded in 1999 by SCAA – Specialty Coffee Association of America, and SCAE – Specialty Coffee Association of Europe.
Their primary purpose was to promote consumption of high quality coffee in and away from home, while creating maximum exposure to a largely technical field that up till then involved only people associated with this industry.
So they decided to hold an annual championship that would select the “ultimate barista”.
Challenges Facing the Contestants
This is a challenging and quite complex competition. Each contestant must prepare within 15 minutes 4 identical cups of espresso, 4 identical cups of cappuccino and 4 identical cups of an espresso-based drink that the he has developed.
Each contestant is required to develop a unique blend of his choice for the WBC, which has a “complex flavor”. He is also required to froth milk and pour it to perfection, and if this is not enough, the barista must show complete control of his work environment (man and machine), and, of course, perform – speak, explain and describe his activities throughout the process in front of 7 judges and half a million Internet viewers!
What Can We Expect in this Year’s Competition?
As I already mentioned, this WBC this year will take place in Vienna, Austria, with participants from 57 countries, including Israel.
This global coffee championship is an amazing event for people from all over the world with genuine love and passion for coffee products and the coffee world. It is a meeting venue of cultures and people – from teenagers to seniors. For three consecutive days and nights, people are holding sessions, get-togethers and parties, exchanging information and experiences. Chinese, South Americans, Europeans, Africans, Israelis and Lebanese – all meet with no barriers around them, simply to enjoy an amazing cup of coffee.
As in every year, each country holds a preliminary competition to select the local champion, under the responsibility of its national Coffee Association. Israel’s Coffee Association was established by Strauss Coffee, and its members include various local coffee companies.
I am looking forward to this fascinating and exciting championship. After the competition is over, I’ll come back to tell you all about it, and bring with me the tastes, styles, impressions, and, of course, the results of the contestants, so don’t miss any detail from the World Barista Competition!