NATIONAL CHAMPION OF IRELAND
I was lucky enough to score a shot of Stephen’s espresso this morning back in the prep room, and man, it blew me away. Soooo sweet, so deep and complex. Roasted by Anette, who roasted James’ WBC-winning espresso last year, the coffee is from James, Anette and Stephen’s London operation, Square Mile Coffee Roasters. In fact, Stephen helped train James for last year’s competition, and James helped train Stephen this year. These three are an amazing team. I love how Stephen begins: he wastes no time and just jumps right in, telling the judges he will not be telling them what they’ll taste in the cup but rather, he wants them to experience it themselves with no preconceptions. It’s ballsy and the crowd loves it. His espressos pull beautifully, and then on to the caps, and we’re all toe-tapping to his pounding soundtracks. His latte art is some of the prettiest we’ve seen all weekend. On to the signature drink: he explains to the judges that one of the most hard and fast rules of pastry chefs is that you should never mix chocolate and water, and you should never do so over direct heat. Well, he’s done just that, then cooled it over an ice bath, and he places a small spoonful of the mixture into each of four small dishes. He then opens up a round silver canister and– uh oh, it tips over. Inside it held four small cubes of what he describes as a blueberry muffin taste — a small cake with blueberry jelly on top. But he’s fine — the bits are unharmed from the spill. But he’s unnerved and his hands are shaking, and he drops one on the tray. Still, it’s served and he receives a huge round of applause from his many fans in the audience. He then pulls espresso and pours it directly atop the chocolate and blueberry muffin combo in each dish, where the heat of the espresso melts the chocolate. The judges drink. The crowd explodes with applause. Cheers to you, Stephen!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF THE CZECH REPUBLIK
Petra is adorable. She tells the judges she owns a small coffee bar just outside of Prague, and she’s very pleased to share her coffee with them. She then turns to go pull four shots of espresso for her signature beverage. She says she wants them to sit for the duration of her performance while she prepares and serves her espressos and cappuccinos. It’s a bold move, but she seems fully confident. She pours two shots into one pitcher, and two into another which she places above an ice bath, noting that they must cool for her drink because it will be a cold drink. Then she begins preparation of her cappuccinos. She tops them with latte art and is off to serve make her espressos. Her signature drink really does combine coffee in all kinds of forms, in the foam, in the steamed milk, and in the cup itself. Bravo Petra!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF HUNGARY
Atila’s statio is one of the most pristine I’ve seen all weekend — he has custom made wooden boxes on his prep table that hold each of his many signature drink ingredients. His cappuccinos are lovely and his espresso looks to be pulling smoothly. I’m really into those damn boxes though. For example, he uses a small French press of coffee for his signature drink, and the little French press pot even his its wn special place in one of the wooden boxes. His drink sounds divine: it combines juniper seed, nutmeg flower and orange peel, plus French pressed coffee and freshly pulled shots of espresso. He tells the judges he calls the drink “Good Wish,” because he wished he would in in Hungary, and he did, and now, guess what? He has another wish. Let’s see if it comes true. Bravo, Attila!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF RUSSIA
Daria is our last competitor in the preliminary round of the 2008 WBC — it’s hard to believe were to the end. Daria is up for the challenge, with great energy and fun, groovy disco music. Dariapours some pretty hearts on her cappuccinos and pulls off her espressos with ease. For her signature drink, she pulls shots into a large itcher. She says she wants to show off the aroma of her espresso as well as the taste Table side, she combines, milk chocolate and caramel into a whipper, and then she squeezes the scent into four cups, each with very narrow rims. She heats her espresso in a small pan on a hot plate. She then moves to another mixing bowl filled with heavy cream. She scoops a spoonful of powdered sugar and then uses a blowtorch to heat it, letting the carmelized sugar drip into the cram in the mixing bowl below. It’s super cool. She then combines it with her espresso, explaining to the judges that they will taste the same chocolate and caramel in the cup that they smelled in the small glass. Its a very creative performance. Nice job, Daria!
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