Among the many competitions taking place here in Seoul during the Cafe Show is the Angels in Us Barista World Grand Prix, a strange and fascinating contest that puts international baristas as well as some talented Korean baristas on the stage.
The Angels in Us competition has actually existed in Korea for the past few years, but only with Korean baristas. The competition is similar to the World Barista Championship format, in that competitors prepare espressos, cappuccinos, and a signature beverage for the judges. What’s different is that they also prepare a second signature beverage using Monin syrups. Each competitor had 25 minutes for their entire performance. Monin is one of the sponsors of the event, and is highly responsible for the generous purse: the winner receives $10,000; second place gets $5,000; and third place gets $3,000. Those are some serious stakes.
This year, the competition ramped up in size and stature to include international barista champions in addition to the Korean all stars: competitors from Indonesia, Chile, Kenya, Colombia, Romania, and El Salvador traveled to Seoul to take part in the competition.
For two days, the baristas—a total of 12—competed, and yesterday—Saturday—was the final round, in which the top six from the previous two days competed. The finalists were: Park Ju Won (Korea), Ronald Valero (Colombia), Park Won Mi (Korea), William Hernandez (El Salvador), Seo Dong Ho (Korea), and Jung Hee Do (Korea).
In the end, William from El Salvador, where he works for Viva Espresso, won top honors (and some mack money). Congratulations, William!