Scientists give out annual Nobel Prizes. Bankers give a Banker of the Year award. Sports leagues give an MVP award. Guess what Coffee Baristas give as an award for their best and brightest?
Yes, it's the World Barista Championship. And it's competitive, tough, and exciting.
I thought that the coffee barista at my local Starbucks was skilled. After all, he makes a good latte, fast. But the contestants in the World Barista Championship take their skills to a whole new level.
The most recent annual competition was in Copenhagen, Denmark. National champions attended from 51 countries. There were hundreds of visitors watching the contests and thousands more watching live online. At the event, competitors had 15 minutes to prepare 4 espresso, 4 cappucinos, and 4 signature drinks of their own creations. There are seven judges, including one head judge, 4 sensory judges and 2 technical judges evaluated the taste of beverages served, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill, workspace management, and overall presentation of the competitors. You can see a video of the winner 2008 World Barista Champion, Stephen Morrissey of Ireland here.
His precision, care and creativity are amazing. It's an art form. He makes the latte art on top of his cappucinos look so easy. It's like watching Picasso paint, or Michaelangelo sculpt. His 4 signature drinks are especially interesting. He put so much effort into his flambeed chocolate. This goes way way beyond your local corner takeout coffee shop.
I don't know what regular coffee drinkers like us can learn from this except have pure admiration for someone so skilled. And also to try more interesting coffees and coffee houses.
The US is also behind! The runner up was David Makin from Australia, followed by 3rd place Liesbeth Sleijster (Netherlands), 4th place Daniel Remheden (Sweden), 5th place Michael Yung (Canada),and 6th place Soren Stiller Markussen (Denmark). The champion US barista in 2008 is Kyle Glanville from Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago, and he'll be profiled in another write-up.
Keep up with Stephen Morrissey's personal blog here.