Sigep is a huge show. It fills the entire expo center. By contrast, the World of Coffee Event this summer which will host the World Barista Championship will only occupy one hall of this sprawling place. So one of the things you see near the SCAE-sponsored coffee bar every morning is new attendees unfolding gigantic maps of the event to try to get their bearings and decide where they want to go and what they want to see first. Good luck trying to see all of it. More than 100,000 visitors (and maybe closer to 150,000) are expected to make their way through this place over the course of five days.
The final round of the Italian Barista Championship has brought with it a packed house once again as the amphitheater surrounding the stage is full of people and energy as the top six baristas from the first two days of competition seek to win the title of Italian Barista Champion and represent their country here again in Rimini later this year in June.
Before the final round started WCE judge and competition fixture Sonja Grant gave a presentation about the evolution of the barista competition. (Fun fact: originally sensory judges and technical judges used the same scoresheet. Oh, and judges worked in teams of two – and often spit out drinks into a spittoon on stage.) She also talked about the ups and downs of being a judge. She said there were many fun things, like traveling to new countries, and not-so-fun things, like traveling to new countries and only seeing a convention center while you’re there.
One of the coolest things I’ve seen is a new tool developed by one of the barista finalists, Giacomo Vannelli. Working with 9bar, a barista training and coffee consulting company here in Italy, he created the Blend Wheel System (BWS), which is a round metal divider that slips into the portafilter basket so you can dose two different coffees into the same basket. Depending on where the shot is divided relative to the portafilter spouts, you can adjust the shot to highlight one of the coffees over the other. Though there is some (or a lot) of disagreement over whether or not it actually works like that since the entire bed is exposed to water and extracted without the BWS divider still in it. Still, it looks like it would be really fun to play around with and that you could do a lot of customization of shots by using it. Definitely worth checking out!
Around the show, the crowds continue to be overwhelming, and you see any number of things that you would love for your cafe or home. Like the examples below::