Between the 9th and 12th of April, the World Barista Championship will be held in Seattle. National Champions from 49 countries meet over four intense days of competition that will gradually whittle the field down to one: Hidenori Izaki’s successor as World Champion.
This year, the barista championship is the only official competition to make it in under the convention umbrella; the other competitions will be held at the World of Coffee Nordic convention, held in Gothenburg June 16-18th.
The playful black sheep of the competitions—the inimitable World Aeropress Championship—is here, alongside 35 national champions selected in grueling ordeals of filter coffee, good beer and witty banter spanning the globe.
Seattle is an important city for specialty coffee. It is the home of both Starbucks and Espresso Vivace.
Starbucks popularised the idea of specialty coffee, though as it grew to gargantuan proportions, it drifted far away from the original aims and ideals. To its credit, Starbucks is trying to reverse its faustian bargain with an elaborate flagship store in Seattle. There, the Clover coffee brewer is featured, a brewer Starbucks bought outright and more or less removed from the wider market some years ago.
David Schomer and his Espresso Vivace helped popularise the idea of specialty espresso, about studying the variables of coffee making to improve on them. David published a book that, for a long time, was one of the few resources new baristas had to lean on. Espresso Vivace is also believed to be the first coffee shop to heavily feature latte art on their milk drinks.
Without further ado, here are this years’ Nordic champions and their competition times should you want to watch the livestream:
Photo by instagram user @oktopushup
Kalle Freese, an ambitious barista and entrepreneur with two National Championship wins (2013 and 2015), his own coffee shop (temporarily closed) and coffee education project. His instagram has been a great window into the sort of dedication it takes to put together 15 minutes of world-class coffee communication. Kalle’s presentation will be streaming live on Thursday the 9th at 21:35 Scandinavian time.
Søren Stiller Markussen is a four time National Champion (2008, 2010, 2014 and 2015) who has reached the finals twice. He’s known for signature drinks that are a little out there in terms of flavour combinations, but his skill and experience is undeniable. Søren’s presentation will be streaming live on Thursday the 9th at 19:55 Scandinavian time.
Linnea Vannsjö of Drop Coffee is this years’ Swedish champion (Her colleague Oskar Alverus was the 2013 champion). She has been with Drop Coffee for two years. Linnea’s presentation will be streaming live on Friday the 10th at 19:15 Scandinavian time.
Alexander Lenouvel Hansen, an experienced barista who has done time at two of the best coffee shops in Norway, Stockfleth’s and Java. In addition to this years’ win, he was the 2013 Brewers Cup champion. Alexander is now with Java-owner (and 2001 World Barista Champion) Robert Thoresen’s coffee sourcing company Collaborative Coffee Source. Alexander’s presentation will be streaming live on Thursday the 9th at 19:35 Scandinavian time.
Unfortunately, Iceland didn’t field a champion to the WBC this year.
Hand-lettered by David Salinas of The Department of Brewology, featuring the inventor of the Aeropress
Representing Norway is Øystein “Kaffelab” T. Berntsen, a non-professional coffee enthusiast; for Sweden is Oscar Kylmä of Helsingborg’s Koppi; for Denmark, Hans Kristian Andersen of Copenhagen Coffee Lab. It’s looking like it could be a lot of fun!
Fingers and toes crossed for everyone competing!