WBC 2014 Finalist 5 – Hidenori Izaki, Japan

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BARISTA CHAMPION OF JAPAN
Hidenori Izaki
Maruyama Coffee Co., Ltd.

Read our interview with Hidenori here.

Hidenori comes to the World Barista Championship this year with plenty of experience, including representing Japan and doing quite well at last year’s World Barista Championship in Melbourne. And once he’s had a taste, Hide, as his friends call him, wouldn’t be stopped at going for another chance at the world crown.

I love the intensity in Hide's face as he conveys his excitement for the Costa Rican coffee he's using to the judges

I love the intensity in Hide’s face as he conveys his excitement for the Costa Rican coffee he’s using to the judges

This year, Hide is using a Costa Rican coffee. He has a special relationship with the producer—they’re around the same age, which Hide says was an inspiration: to see someone of his generation on such a committed pursuit of excellence.

The few moments that Hide had to be away from the judges table, he was still talking to the judges from the espresso machine. Great attention to detail and excellent service.

The few moments that Hide had to be away from the judges table, he was still talking to the judges from the espresso machine. Great attention to detail and excellent service.

He calls his coffee, “espresso-focused coffee.” It’s something he developed with his colleagues at Maruyama Coffee—which, in case you didn’t know, is one of the best coffee companies in Japan, if not the world. Owned by the internationally respected Kentaro Maruyama, the company has produced barista champions for years, including most famously Miki Suzuki, who made it to the final round in 2012 at the WBC in Vienna.

Hide has a pretty impressive group of supporters here from both Costa Rica and Japan.

Hide has a pretty impressive group of supporters here from both Costa Rica and Japan.

Hide has a very unique kind of composure—he’s so energetic and vivacious, but he’s very smart, and incredibly engaging on stage.

Hide spent an incredible amount of time table side -- he was with his judges as much as he could be to guide them through the performance.

Hide spent an incredible amount of time table side — he was with his judges as much as he could be to guide them through the performance.

He loads the judges up with information, but it’s a cinch to swallow—he’s broken it down into digestible bites, and even the non science nerds among us are finding it quite easy to understand.

Like Craig Simon of Australia, Hide had the benefit of training for this competition with Holly Bastin and Pete Licata—reigning (for a little while longer anyway) World Barista Champion.

He pours his cappuccinos table side, and they are lovely. They’re made with a natural processed coffee from Costa Rica. Hide has a genuinely strong grasp of coffee from farm to cup. He talks extensively about his passion for selective picking, how important every step in the life of the coffee is until the final stage, when it gets to the barista. Let’s just say, Hide for sure knows what he’s talking about.

Hide is so sweet, but don't think he not a professional through and through

Hide is so sweet, but don’t think he not a professional through and through

His sig drink combines peach nectar, also berries whose juice he has reduced in a small saucepan on stage. After adding the espresso, he pours the beverage over ice spheres, cooling it just enough that the flavors he wants pronounced are fully present.

Hide is precise and perfectionistic—it makes for a formal, scholastic performance, heavy on information, but with enough charm and passion to humanize him and make us love him. Great job, Hide.

At 14:58, Hide called time.

At 14:58, Hide called time.

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