The World Barista Championship is one of the great coffee events each year. The 10th annual 2009 World Barista Championship was held a few months back this year in Atlanta Georgia on April 16th to April 19th.
Watching the top baristas (or baristi) from countries around the world compete for “best in class” has always been an enlightening coffee experience for me as well as great coffee entertainment not to mention a specialty coffee education.
Each year, regional barista championships held in a growing number of countries around the world select the best local baristas and send them to their respective national barista championships. The winners of the national barista competitions then head for the World Barista Championship. This year, national barista champions from 51 countries came together in Atlanta and demonstrated the best in specialty coffee preparation for the world to admire and enjoy!
The World Barista Championship (WBC) Governance
The WBC’s stated mission is to promote recognition and excellence in the Barista profession, to advance the practice, knowledge and expertise in the preparation and serving of specialty espresso coffee, to promote the knowledge and consumption of specialty coffee to the consumer, and to become globally recognized as the premier World Barista event.
How The Barista Competition Works
As explained in the 2009 WBC Rules and Regulations document, each competitor is judged by 4 sensory judges, 2 technical judges and 1 head judge. The competing baristas serve each of the four sensory judges a single espresso, a single cappuccino, and a signature espresso based beverage of choice (must be non-alcoholic) for a total of 12 espresso drinks.
The technical judges evaluate technical abilities and skill and adherence to proper and prescribed procedure including “keeping the station, equipment and work area clean”. Hey, cleanliness has its espresso virtue!
Each competitor is given a total of 45 minutes at their station in three segments; 15 minutes of setup/preparation, 15 minutes of performance, and 15 minutes of clean-up.
To level the playing field, each competitor uses the same set of equipment including the espresso machine and coffee grinders. This year, the baristas competed using a Mahlkonig K30 grinder (see below) and the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia espresso machine.
The winner of the WBC fulfills a specialty coffee ambassadorship role as the the representative of the World Barista Championship, the SCAA and the SCAE for the following year.
And the 2009 World Barista Championship winner is …
Congratulations go to Gwilym Davies who captured the distinguished first place position. The final competition included the following six “best in world” competitors:
- Gwilym Davies, United Kingdom – 623 points
- Sammy Piccolo, Canada – 619.5 points
- Michael Phillips, United States – 618.5 points
- Colin Harmon, Ireland – 572 points
- Lee Jong Hoon, Korea – 542 points
- Attila Molnar, Hungary – 535.5 points
Rather than bore you with more tedious WBC description, why not simply have a look at the following videos of the top 2009 WBC competitors. These videos are made possible by specialty coffee extraordinaire Nick Cho, SCAA board member who is usually involved in some form of officiating, hosting and announcing at these WBC events. That’s Nick in the white suit introducing Sammy Piccolo at the beginning of video #2.
As is the tradition, first place barista champions from prior years take care of the hosting and announcing as a sort of “handing off of the baton”. In case you’re not familiar, that is 2007 WBC champion James Hoffman (the taller, thin gentleman), 2008 WBC champion Stephen Morrissey (the bearded gentleman), and Nick Cho at the front of Gwilym Davies video #1.
Yes, yes, … a picture is worth 1,000 words. So that would make a video worth how many words (not including the words spoken in the video)?
Gwilym Davies – United Kingdom, 2009 World Barista Champion
Sammy Piccolo – Canada, 2009 World Barista Championship finalist #2
Michael Phillips – United States, 2009 World Barista Championship finalist #3
Colin Harmon – Ireland, 2009 World Barista Championship finalist #4
Lee Jong Hoon – Korea, 2009 World Barista Championship finalist #5
Attila Molnar – Hungary, 2009 World Barista Championship finalist #6
Now, just in case you didn’t get enough extraordinary barista excellence watching the 2009 finalists, for posterity’s sake, have a look at Stephen Morrissey, last year’s 2008 World Barista Champion.
Stephen Morrissey, 2008 World Barista Champion
Next year, the 11th annual World Barista Championship will take place in London scheduled for June, 2010.
In the meantime, why not track down and attend some of those local and regional barista competitions in your neck of the woods. It’s always great coffee entertainment, and most definitely a coffee learning experience as well!