Competitors #44—#48

#44

NATIONAL CHAMPION OF THAILAND

SIRITHAI RANGJANTHUEK

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There are really very few women in this years WBC, but I’m happy t see that Sirthai is one of them. She’s quite the professional, and a darling in person, too. She breaks out the Terra cups, and she’s wowwing the crowd with her latte art pours: the first is a regular (though spectacular) rosetta, and the second is a perfect swan, a tulip rosetta, and another swan. For her signature drink, she says she’ll combine chocolate and vanilla ice cream, caramel syrup and marachino (sp) cherries. Sounds like dessert! She tells the judges she loves the flavors that the cherry brings out in her espresso. The drink is called Choco Volcano: she dispenses some of the vanilla chocolate into each glass, then adds the espresso. It looks so tasty! Nice show, Sirithai!

#45

NATIONAL CHAMPION OF THE NETHERLANDS

LIESBETH SLEIJSTER

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I met Liesbeth last fall in Sweden at the Nordic Barista Cup and found her to be just delightful — she was so enthusiastic, full of energy and always smiling though she was working super hard as a volunteer for the NBC. I had no idea then that she would go on to become the barista champion of the Netherlands, but I can see now how much sense it makes. She’s brought Rose (two-time champ of the Netherlands with her as her coach, as well as her roastmaster. Liesbeth begins her presentation by telling the judges about how she was completely unsure about what coffee she would use in her WBC blend, and so she and her roastmaster traveled to Brazil, where they found it. She’s very proud of and excited about this coffee, and to prove the pint, she offers the sensory judges a small cupping experience: she has brewed a cup, and offers it to them on a tray with four cupping spoons, telling them that this is part of the sensory experience. They oblige and each take a slurp. Liesbeth ten moves on to her cappuccinos, telling the judges as she pours how it is her wish to bring coffee to the people—great coffee to the people. She tells them that she is using very fresh coffee, so there may be bubbles in it. Interesting choice. Sig drink: peach, fennel, sugar water, and some sorbet from a crazy looking contraption, which she serves on individual silver spoons. She asks the judges to try the ice from the spoon, then take a wig of the espresso. It’s a very creative drink!

#46

NATIONAL CHAMPION OF UKRAINE

OLEKSANDR KOLOVANOV

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After the wild cheering from the Dutch in attendance, it’s soothing to launch into Oleksandr’s performance, which is smooth and mellow from the start. His movements are precise and measured; from where I sit, he’s technically excellent. He sails through his espressos, and pours heavenly looking cappuccinos. For his signature drink, he creates a warm drink using yolk, caramel and cream. He says it will have a creamy taste — the whole thing sounds very sensual. We’re all caught up in the performance, a meditative drift through coffee, s that at the close of Oleksandr’s performance, I’m startled by he thunderous applause that follows from his fans. Bravo, Oleksandr!

#47

NATIONAL CHAMPION OF TURKEY

ENGIN KASAL

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Right away, I love Engin because he says he calls his espresso bend Happy Friday. How sweet is that? He’s using a translator, but that doesn’t muffle his enthusiasm. As he serves his espressos to the judges, he says, “When you taste my espresso, you’ll feel like you’re immediately transported to Istanbul. And if you do not, I will belly dance for you.” LOVE it. He’s using a very small amount espresso in his coffees — the portafilters are only half full. But it’s his technique, he says. Guess I’d better take a trip to Istanbul to investigate. I’m really curious about his signature drink — its espresso mixed with cream and — get this — powdered orchid root. He’s steaming milk to top it off. Last but not least, he sprinkles cinnamon and crushed pistachio on top. Great job, Engin!
#48

NATIONAL CHAMPION OF JAPAN

SCHUNICHI TAKEMOTO

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I think the whole country of Japan got pretty addicted to barista competitions after last year’s WBC which was held in Tokyo. Seems a large number of them came t see Schunichi perform here in Copenhagen. They’re all sitting behind me in the stands, and as we waited for Schunichi to take the stage, they did a sing-song chant for him for good luck. It was awesome. His station is impeccable as he pushes his start button and begins, but he’s nervous all the same. In Japan, more than 400 baristas vied for the title of national barista champion — i think that’s the most any country has in the world. Hes obviously very passionate about his coffee, telling the judges he works at a small roastery and loves working with the roaster to create espresso blends. He pours gorgeous atte art and then mves onto his signature drinks. Crazy combo, this one: it’s milk and sugar and an avocado puree, which he likes to serve cool because, he says, the area in Japan where he’s from is very warm, and he finds the drink very refreshing. He serves and the crowd goes wild. Bravo, Schunichi!

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