The Melbourne International Coffee Expo

The Melbourne International Coffee Expo

By Chris Kolbu

It has long been a tradition to separate the coffee world championships—Barista, Brewing, Latte Art, Cup Tasting and Coffee in Good Spirits—over two locations. This year, the first two will be held in Rimini, Italy during the World of Coffee event; the latter three were held last weekend in Melbourne, Australia, during the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE).

This year, Finland, Sweden and Norway all sent their national champions to compete in the Latte Art and Cup Tasting championships. Additionally, Norway also had a competitor in the Coffee in Good Spirits championship. Unfortunately, neither Denmark nor Iceland sent any representatives to Melbourne.

The World Cup Tasting Championship

Patrik Nilsson of Sweden

Held over multiple days, the WCTC is a fast competition with lots of audience appeal: four competitors are presented with eight “triangles”—sets of three cups filled with coffee—from which they are to select the odd one out. They have eight minutes to complete, but in case of a tie, the faster competitor advances.

This year, the WCTC featured cups that were darkly coloured inside, to eliminate any advantage one could get from visually inspecting the coffees. The coffees were primarily of American origin, and some of the sets were obviously quite difficult to separate.

After the competitors have made their selection, the other cups are removed. Then, one by one, the competitors lift them above their heads. A coloured dot underneath means they got it right.

Erik Niklas Ivrig Kaisen of Norway

Both Patrik Nilsson of Sweden and Panu Reinikainen of Finland got all eight cups correct in the first heat and advanced to the quarterfinals. Erik Niklas Ivrig Kaisen of Norway missed one cup and was seconds away from advancing.

In the quarterfinal, both Patrik and Panu got 5/8 cups right. This was a very hard selection of triangles, so it was enough for them both to advance to the semifinal.

The semifinal seemed equally hard: Patrik managed 4/8 cups here, but Panu did very well for himself with 6/8, landing him a place in the finals!

Panu Reinikainen of Finland

In the finals were USA, Taiwan, Finland and the Netherlands. It was undecided up until the very end, with most competitors going head to head. Pang Yu-Liu of Taiwan managed to edge out Amanda Juris of the USA with 6/8. Panu managed a respectable third place(!), with 4/8 cups.

The World Latte Art Championship

Jelle Echelpoel, Sweden. Source: Sprudge Instagram.

With the explosion latte art has seen the last ten years, there shouldn’t be anyone not familiar with the heart, the tulip or the fern tree-looking rosetta. These are patterns that are “free poured”—that is to say poured using only the movement of the milk jug and the movement of milk and coffee inside the cup—by your local barista. Beyond those three, you’re not likely to see many other types of patterns in your everyday latte or cappuccino.

In the World Latte Art Championship, however, the designs increase in complexity and ingenuity, and you’re likely to find patterns with names like Narcissistic Double-headed Dragon (a bit of fun courtesy of Jelle Echelpoel, Sweden). The competition format calls for two rounds of two drinks, one round a free pour, the other open to other methods of pattern-making. Each round must feature two identical designs that must themselves correspond to photos provided beforehand. They are judged on complexity, creativity, consistency, contrast (between milk and coffee) and overall performance.

Simon Nilsson Alteblad, Norway. Source: Sprudge Instagram.

Unfortunately, none of the Nordic champions made it through to the finals, which was won by Christian Ullrich of Germany .

Photos of competitors and latte art courtesy of Sprudge; Pauliina’s taken from the World Coffee Events stream.

Pauliina Nyrhinen
Pauliina Nyrhinen, Finland. Source: World Coffee Events stream.

Coffee in Good Spirits

Madeleine S. Johnsen, Norway

Norway’s Madeleine S. Johnsen was the only Nordic champion to go to the World Championship this year. Thankfully, she delivered a fantastic presentation and spectacular drinks. Her signature drink featured Columbian coffee brewed onto cloudberries, an orange berry that is harvested as a delicacy in the Nordic countries, and marigold petals, that she explained were known as northern saffron. Served in a stemless cocktail glass on top of a bowl filled with dry ice, it was quite a spectacle!

Madeleine made it through to the finals, placing a very respectable fourth in the world. The winner this year was Matthew Perger of Australia.

Overall, the Nordic countries had a strong showing, placing third in Cup Tasting and fourth in Coffee in Good Spirits. This despite entering only seven champions—a full roster would have been 15. Hopefully we’ll see a full roster next year!

The two remaining championships will be held on June 10-12 in Rimini, Italy.

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