German barista champion, Matthias Lincke, overcame technical difficulties (the water hose for the espresso machine became disconnected) and a restart of his routine to deliver a fine performance. He was the only competitor I noticed that did not use the new rule allowing baristas to set the judges’ table during their prep time. Instead he waited until his competition time to do it, and he still managed to finish under time.
The barista champion of the Netherlands, Rose Van Asten, has been a barista for 8 years. She created a signature drink featuring natural flavors including orange, star anise and dates.
Vikram Kashyap, the barista champion of India, said that in his country the cappuccino is the most popular drink. He thought it might have something to do with all the spicy food and curries they eat since the milk is naturally calming. He created a signature drink with rose petals (representing the sun) and milk (representing the moon).
Eleen Cai, the first barista champion of Singapore, was very enthusiastic and excited to be participating in the WBC on behalf of her country. Her signature drink, Harmony, was inspired by memories of her mother. “It’s amazing to be here,” she said. “I’m very honored. Being a barista you are just who your are.”
Persevering where others might have thrown in the towel, Argentina’s barista champion, Federico Jose Cabrera, did his best to create a routine without some of his equipment and supplies. Well, actually, it was without pretty much everything since his luggage was lost on his trip to Tokyo and only arrived moments before he had to go on stage. He build a back-up routine using the assistance and generosity of his fellow baristas but unfortunately went over time and was disqualified.
Mifta Sultan Ahmed is the first national barista champion from Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. He has been a barista for four years, but even just a year ago, he never thought he could travel around the world and participate in a barista competition. His table setting included the traditional equipment for making coffee in Ethiopia, and his signature drink recreated the traditional style of Ethiopian coffee making.