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WBC 2007 Tokyo Japan, Day 1
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: July 31, 2007
Article rating: 9.3
feedback: (9) comments | read | write

We're a bit convoluted with time zone changes and such, and because of it, I was able to post some videos yesterday, courtesy of Zachary Carlson, who is videobloggin the entire 2007 WBC, wall to wall, over at ZacharyZachary, so if you want up to the minute news and videos of pretty much all the perfomrnaces and much more, head over there pronto! But let's full swing into Day One at the 2007 WBC in Japan!

 
Enter the Baristas
Posted by Jack Hanna, 10:10am Permalink to this blog entry

(yes I like Bruce Lee) LOL!

Many baristas have worked hard to reach this point, this 15 minutes of total and utter attention paid upon them as they display their abilities and their understanding of the bean.  This year is a record year for the World Barista Championship, with more entrants than any year before. The leap up from 2006 is quite noticeable, with 48 countries entered. And though not all could attend, it is literally wall to wall here in more ways than one.

So many people in the back areas. So many people up on stage. It just feels like the WBC has hit the big time.

It's not just the numbers that have gone up. The level of competition has gone through the stratosphere. The baseline standard of this year could very well be the championship level of just a few short years ago. Throughout the range of Champion baristas, the quality, proficiency, culinary and professional levels have all improved dramatically.

This is no longer a competition where we see filled up hoppers and dirty steam arms. Gone are the days of stumbles and halts because some minor on-stage failure or problem has taken place - the pros are here, and they are up to the challenge.

 
Barista Setups
Posted by Jack Hanna, 11:20am Permalink to this blog entry

The quality of table and competition setups at the World Barista Championships never cease to amaze me.

The phenomenal amount of effort that Champion baristas put into creating an environment that displays their creative and culinary sides, not to mention their professionalism and ingenuity is absolutely astonishing.  From handmade wood table settings, to custom made glass and exotic material surfaces, the amount of unique serving and aesthetic equipment is huge.

As with years past, many of the champions brought multiple grinders for their performance.  Some were used as different blends \ roasts for different drinks and some were used for ease and speed. This year, new tools are showing up, including tamper stands, custom knock boxes, dumb waiters, and a lot more to aid the Baristas in delivering a top notch service.

This is also the first year that baristas can set their tables before their fifteen minute competition rounds start, and because of this, we're seeing a lot more in the way of unique, and sometimes complicated presentation arrangements.

Click for larger image
Carl Sara's Setup
Carl's presentation and setup is just through the top. Check out that strange looking tube device on the left! That's part of his signature drink!
Click for larger image
Colter Jones' Setup
Colter's setup is total elegance, from the Eva Solo coffee maker through to the Terra Keramic all white cappuccino and espresso cups.
 
Colter Jones - Canada
Posted by Mark Prince, 12:30pm Permalink to this blog entry

Colter Jones. The first Champion from Canada since Sammy Piccolo's dynasty ended with his retirement.

In the very recent past, some have said "well, who have you got besides Sammy?" Those of us in Canada who have heard this from just a few minor quarters mainly sat back, said little, and thought to ourselves.... "you'll see". And finally, that time has arrived.

Canada's current champion got his chance to show that Canada perhaps isn't just a one hit wonder, and that we've got our own growing cadre of world calibre baristas. Sammy may have put Canada in the top three in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but now we get a chance to show the world that there's other world calibre competitors in the WBC to come from this huge country with a tiny population.

Here's a little secret too - Sammy didn't actually have much input in training Colter - in fact, not many of us here did. Colter wanted to do this on his own, and more importantly, wanted to show that it's not a Sammy machine that got him there (all due respect to Sammy!), but a community of people passionate about coffee as a whole, that is able to put out world-calibre baristas every year.

We'll soon find out if Canada has another top five or ten Barista, putting this country in the same league with countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the Nordic countries. I think Colter's performance, and more importantly, the calibre of his coffees poured, will convince many that the hits will keep on rolling.

I'm dying here waiting to find out if Colter's in the finals, as is everyone else here in Vancouver - I think just about everyone I know involved in coffee in my neck of the woods is still up, waiting to hear (midnight here, 4pm Tokyo time - two hours to go) but in the meantime, here's a couple of photos, and the video that Zachary and Catie shot.

update: Well we now know Colter didn't finish in the top six, but what's both particularly impressive and also crazy is that he's the seventh' best barista in the world, and only 1/2 point back from the 6th place finisher. If Colter had managed to finish one second sooner (he was, depending on what report is true - 15 or 19 seconds overtime), he would have been in the finals. Oh man, the fates were having fun that day.

But regardless, Colter showed that Canada isn't a one hit wonder when it comes to barista champions! Seventh out of 45 is pretty damned good, and considering he finished ahead of all the Nordic countries, and even Scotti Callaghan's absolutely brilliant performance for Australia, says a lot.


Click for larger image
Colter's Menu
Signature drink is called Compliments. Made up of Brasilian, Indian Mysore, and Bin 35.
Click for larger image
Like a hawk
Colter watches his pours like a hawk, as he prepares his second portafilter for shots.
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Signature Drink
Colter pours the sweet ingredients in his signature drink, Compliments.

 
Preparations
Posted by Jack Hanna, 1:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

Because there's over 45 competitors, there's no way the World Barista Championship can have all first round competitions on one day - in fact, two days is cutting it close.

With the first round heats split into two days, this meant that some baristas would be practicing in the back while others competed out front. Three La Marzocco GB5 machines have been provided in the back for competitors to practice and train on, along with three Compak Grinders provided by the Grinder Sponsor for the competition.  Each Barista has scheduled practice times on the machines, to avoid any kind of problems with machine hogging.

This back area is also used by the competitors store and organize all their gear, and for setting up their final preparations to get ready to head out onto the stage. Because of this, this is where most of the action at the WBC is every year, and I was lucky enough to be able to access the back to see the organised chaos.

There is also a fourth machine set up, where Baristas can also practice - it's out on the floor with public access, and it is set up as a "cafe" of sorts, where the audience can buy drinks, with half going to the SCAJ, and half going to a new scholarship fund the WBC has set up for National Champion baristas that otherwise could not afford to attend the WBC.

Here are some photos from the back area.

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Colter Polising
So what's he cleaning?
Oy! A tamper?
That's CoffeeGeek's prototype tamper? How'd he get that?
Norge!
Einar Holthe, the Norwegian Champion, with Tim Wendleboe, 2004 Champ and trainer.
Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Carl Sara
Carl in the back with another member of Team NZ
Mexico!
Mexico's Barista Champion was trained by Klaus Thompsen, last year's WBC Champ.
Thailand
Thailand's National Champion practicing while her coach hams it up!
Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Heather Perry
Heather looking very relaxed backstage.
More Baristas!
I don't even know who these guys are, but they were having fun!
Team Polski
This one's for CoffeeGeek's News Editor - Team Poland practising it up!
 
Mexico, New Zealand, Norway
Posted by Jack Hanna, 3:50pm Permalink to this blog entry

Just some random photos of three competitors, along with video courtesy of Zachary, who's shooting everything live in Tokyo for his blog.

Mexico National Champion Salvador Benitez Espinosa


Click for larger image
Espinosa Doses
Mexico's Salvador Espinosa was a great national champion to watch on stage.
Click for larger image
Cappuccinos
The judges drink Espinosa's cappuccinos as he refills water.

Norwegian Champion Einar Holthe


Click for larger image
Einar Holthe
Einar works his portafilter loading up the coffee for his shots.
Click for larger image
Capps at table
Einar pours his cappuccinos at the table for the judges.

And New Zealand Champion, Carl Sara


Click for larger image
Carl Sara
Carl talks to the judges briefly after they taste their cappuccinos.
Click for larger image
Setup
Part of the super customized setup Carl had made for his competition.

 
Controversy!
Posted by Jack Hanna, 6:45pm Permalink to this blog entry
Click for larger image

Like every other global competition regarding sports, culinary aspects, arts, heck, even hot dog eating, the World Barista Championship has its share of topics that are discussed passionately.  Every year at the WBC, certain things come up, certain events play out, certain situations arise, and unforeseen circumstances take place that create a point of discussion, debate, and yes, even controversy.

This year, the competitors were not able to use something they probably take for granted in most of their home countries: the little tini ISI N2o (Nitrous Oxide) chargers because they are illegal in Japan, due to abuse. These are the chargers used in devices commonly known as whip-its (or whip cream dispensers) and at the WBC in Japan, these are completely out of bounds.

This caused certain headaches for some competitors who has prepared their performance expecting to be able to use their ISI bottles to prepare creams and concoctions.  Instead the National Champions have to use a provided NO2 system that sits on a side table. That too causes problems.

The whole process of extracting the NO2 takes roughly a minute to do. A minute the competing baristas didn't schedule or plan for during the competition. Many of them build the ingredients for their signature drinks during the 15 minutes of competition time, and instead of being able to pop the ISI charger into the whipper and have it set up and sealed in a few seconds, they have to step aside, and manhandle a machine they aren't even familiar with.

Because of this, the WBC organizers have arranged for special circumstances in the competition.

Competitors have their choice. They can have their competition time "frozen" as soon as they have to step over to the N2O charging machine, or, they can hand off the prepared bottle to their coach, and have the coach do the final prep on the N2O bottle and machine while the competitor continues on with their competition. Some, including James Hoffmann of the UK, have opted for the latter option - handing his charger off to his coach Stephen Morrissey, as Jim continued building his final drinks for the judges.

All in all, a pretty minor controversy, which shows this year's WBC is going on well!

Article rating: 9.3
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: July 31, 2007
feedback: (9) comments | read | write
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