NATIONAL CHAMPION OF FINLAND
Mikko is the second barista I’ve heard today (first was Soren of Denmark) who proudly tells the judges he’s using a blend containing Edwin Martinez’s Finca Vista Hermosa of Guatemala. Big cheers come from he audience, where Edwin and his wife, Nina, are watching. Mikko’s got Radiohead pumping (including the unedited version of “Creep”). Mikko’s serving his caps on coasters made of slices of wood, and man, those pours are gorgeous. I think it’s an unconscious homage to Ben Helfin, #1 fan of Finland and also reigning Coffee Fest Latte Art Champion. Mikko brought his milk from Finland, that’s how much he loves it. Sig drink: egg white, strawberry puree, powdered sugar, cardamom.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF KENYA
JOHN MULI MAKAU
John kicks off his presentation with some beautiful hearts on his cappuccinos. He seems totally comfortable up there, consummate professional. For John’s signature drink, he drops raspberry puree into each martini glass, then tops that with a shot of Kenyan espresso, and then finally, foam made with hazelnut. He asks the judges to swirl the drink to have the complete experience of the flavors together. After serving, John has plenty of time to clean his station. Nice show, John!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF ISRAEL
Alexey has a big cheering squad in the crowd, and it’s no wonder why. His cappuccinos are beautiful, and it looks like his espressos are right on target. I’m really excited about his signature drink, which utilizes various tastes and spices from Israel — as he says, these are flavors that bring out the complexities of his six-bean espresso blend, but they are also wonderful simply as a representation of the everyday cooking that goes on in his home country. Nice work, Alexey!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF GUATEMALA
Raul is off and running, launching into his espresso blend which is comprised of almost all Guatemalan coffees which he roasted himself. Raul realizes as hes beginning signature drink prep that he forgot his judges’ spoon, but he recovers well! The first competitor of the day to use a blender (I think), Raul creates a tropical, fruity drink for the judges that he is confident complements his coffees perfectly. Nice work, Raul.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF NEW ZEALAND
Luciano is using a blend that includes Papau New Guinea and Brazil and Sumatra. His shots are on and his caps are lovely. Hes got the consistency the tech judges are looking for, and with Carl Sara n his team, a lot is expected of him! Sig drink: oney, juniper berries, cocoa beans, lime. He says he treats his cocoa beans with the same care as his coffee beans. Luciano, you’re a pro.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF AUSTRIA
Georg has a great presence on stage—he’s incredibly warm and personal with the judges. He’s prepping his sig drink while he prepares his cappuccinos and espressos, and interestingly, it looks like he’s soaking roasted coffee beans in milk… is that what we’re seeing? Georg turns out a wonderful performance.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF CANADA
Michael’s breaking out the siphon first thing! This is a sign of good things to come. He tells the judges that this is his favorite way of brewing coffee He begins with his caps and they’re pouring beautifully. Could Mike seem any more calm? I don’t think so. He’s collected all the while looking like he’s having a great time on stage. Back sea salt on his sig drink to bring out the sweetness… interesting! He’s got a nifty trick for putting cream on top of the espressos, sliding it onto the drink in one swift motion. Mike’s a total pro — this is a top notch performance.
And this concludes the first day of round one of the 2008 World Barista Championship! It’s been a hell of a day, but we have much more to come! Coverage will continue here throughout the week, so please come back and visit often!
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