Weird & Awesome: The Barista Grand Prix in Seoul is Both

P1000594

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.

1472934_10202502499182402_573339394_n

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.

William from El Salvador (remember him? He was the third place finisher at this year's WBC!), in his finals performance.

William from El Salvador (remember him? He was the third place finisher at this year’s WBC!), in his finals performance.

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.

WBC Champ Pete Licata was on hand to congratulate the competitors.

WBC Champ Pete Licata was on hand to congratulate the competitors. Here, he gives Ronald from Colombia a thumbs up.

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).

The final two wait to hear who is the winner.

The final two wait to hear who is the winner.

In the end, William from El Salvador, where he works for Viva Espresso, won top honors (and some mack money). Congratulations, William!

William upon hearing his name as the winner.

William upon hearing his name as the winner.

All of the competitors, judges, and sponsors.

All of the competitors, judges, and sponsors.

 

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.