Everytime I attend the World Barista Competition I am amazed at the enthusiasm, skill, energy, and camaraderie displayed by the competitor baristas. They come from 50+ countries with their own languages, cultures, and styles. By the end of the 4 days of competition they interact as if they have known each other for years. Perhaps it is the power of coffee that can bring us together (it might also have been the beer and music at this year's barista party in a commercial brewery).
At this year’s SCAE event in Vienna, the positive energy of coffee was extended beyond the WBC to the Cup Tasters, Brewer's Cup, and my new favorite, the Ibrik Competition. While in some cultures and societies the coffee preparer is marginalized, in the world of specialty coffee there is absolutely no question about who is a passionate expert with skills above and beyond the rest. Great coffee requires high quality beans but it also needs people properly processing, transporting, roasting, AND brewing it (on clean equipment).
What can we learn from these competitors who travel from all over the world to serve discerning judges their specialty drinks and test their skills in cupping? All you have to do is watch the presentation of an Ibrik coffee or the crazy cheering and arm raising for the cup tasters champ and you will learn a lot. Coffee is not just a drink we consume out of habit. Coffee can be so much more. At Urnex we like to say "Respect the Bean" when trying to point out the need to Keep It Clean. However, that phrase means much more. It is a reminder that coffee might be a commodity on the world markets but great coffee is something worthy of professional expertise, unparrelled enthusiasm, and amazing camaraderie amongst baristas from around the world.
Congratulations to the 2012 winners:
WBC: Raul Rodas, Guatemala
Cup Tasters: Cory Andreen GERMANY
Ibrik: Zoltan Kis HUNGARY
Brewers Cup: Matt Perger AUSTRALIA