The 2013 World of Coffee event just wrapped up in the lovely city of Nice, located on the French Riviera. While the Barista and Coffee Brewing championships were held in Melbourne, Australia a month ago, Nice played host to the four remaining: Cup Tasting, Coffee in Good Spirits, Latte Art, and—new this year—Coffee Roasting.
Japan was the big winner this year, with two wins and one second place.
The World Coffee Roasting Championship
An exciting new addition to the plethora of coffee competitions, the WCRC was developed to “highlight the art and skill of coffee roasting.” While roasting seen from the outside might seem like a repetitive, mechanical exercise, sourcing coffee, developing roast profiles and understanding how to properly showcase different qualities of coffees is a skill that takes years to develop. The competition is formatted in such a way as to emphasise these skills.
[The] format is comprised of three stages. First, the participant evaluates three green coffee options […] Next, a coffee is selected and a roasting profile that best accentuates the desirable characteristics of the coffee is created. Sample roasters […] are used in developing the roast profile. Then, competitors prepare their competition coffee on Giesen production roasters. Finally, on the third day, the coffees are cupped by a panel of judges to determine who most closely matched their roasting profile with the outcome in the cup.
Only ten countries fielded champions for this years’ WCRC: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Czech Republic, France, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine, Spain, and Russia.
The first ever winner of the WCRC is Naoki Goto of Japan, representing his own company Tokado Coffee.
World Cup Tasters Championship
One of the more audience friendly coffee competitions, the WCTC is over very quickly, with a maximum of 8 minutes allotted for each heat. The competition format is a so-called triangle cupping, where competitors taste their way through eight sets of three cups each, trying to determine the odd coffee out. After all the competitors have finished, they take turns to lift their chosen cups, hoping to find a marker that confirms it was the right cup. The person with the most correct cups in the shortest time will continue on. Having to weigh the relative importance of being right or being fast leads to competitors mostly falling into the category of Tortoise or Hare; which is the right choice depends on the opponents in your heat.
While this might sound simple and relatively straightforward, in practice it is anything but, and exactly what separates the two coffees in each triangle might be a minuscule difference. Like with wine tasting competitions, many competitors swear off eating anything but the blandest of foods for a while leading up to the competition.
This year, 36 competitors from all over the world came to Nice. They were quickly eliminated down to only four for the final round: Hungary, Japan, Czech Republic and Norway. It ended in that order, with Lajos Horvath of Casino Mocca Micro Roastery in Budapest taking the crown. Nicolai Aunbakk, the Norwegian champion placed a very strong 4th, and ended up being this years’ highest ranked Nordic competitor.
World Latte Art Championship
While latte art has declined somewhat in popularity in later years, at the level seen in Nice it is elevated to an art form. 36 countries competed this year, with Hisako Yoshikawa of Japan taking the crown. While increasing complexity has been a general tendency in the WLAC, Hisako’s designs were both complex and visually balanced.
Coffee in Good Spirits
An odd inclusion, as it expressly requires a different product, namely alcohol, the WCGiS championship is more of a crossover competition for baristas and bartenders.
There are two rounds to the competition: in the first, preliminary round, competitors produce four drinks (two sets) of warm and cold “designer drinks” (basically equivalent to the signature drink in the Barista Championships). The six competitors who advance to the final round then have to produce another two designer drinks, as well as two Irish coffees.
This years’ winner is Victor Delpierre of France, representing Cafes Richard. For more information on Victor (and his recipes from the nationals), read this Sprudge article.