By Alex Bernson
The World Barista Championship in Seoul was an incredible showcase of international coffee talent, with close to sixty competitors taking to the stage in early November for an exciting four-day display of innovation and technical mastery at Cafe Show Seoul. Dale Harris, representing the United Kingdom, took first place with a routine built on his exploration of an SL28 variety coffee grown by Ernesto Menéndez at Finca Las Brumas in El Salvador. Over 90,000 people from 130 countries watched the event online, and over 144,000 people from 77 countries attended Cafe Show! View full rankings.
The 2017 WBC featured the second year of the Teams Competition, which runs in tandem with the preliminary round of the main competition. Each competing nation was placed in a team based on historical performance data, with each competitor giving their own individual stage routines, while supporting and working with each other off-stage. Teams worked together for a shift on the WBC Team Bar, deciding on a menu, what equipment to use, and how to structure their service.
After two intense days of competition, the winning 2017 WBC Team was revealed as Team Tamper; including competitors representing Canada, China, Italy, Kenya, and Romania. Besides the title of 2017 WBC Team Competition winner and a great prize from Puqpress, competitors had an added bonus this year. The semi-finals round of the WBC was expanded to include the top 15 finishers in the preliminaries, with a 16th wildcard semi-finalist position in the WBC awarded to the highest-ranked, not already qualified competitor from Team Tamper: Martin Shabaya from Kenya!
A number of other exciting changes brought about through the work of the WBC Evolution group also debuted in Seoul. To open-up new service possibilities, competitors had the choice of 9 new table configurations, with multiple height & seating options. With the huge growth in competitor numbers in recent years, multiple staggered competitors performed on stage in the preliminary round. And with the support of Victoria Arduino, competitors could request the temperature their espresso machine was set at, in a move to allow more espresso extraction control.
Stay tuned for the 2018 World Barista Championship—coming to World of Coffee Amsterdam, from 20-23 June.