BARISTA CHAMPION OF GREECE
The final competitor in the 2014 World Barista Championship is the beloved Chris Loukakis, whose success in other coffee competitions is plenty to make him a formidable competitor: he was the World Latte Art Champion in 2011, and he placed second in the World Brewers Cup in 2012. The company he works with, Taf, is respected not only as one of the very best coffee companies in Greece, but around the world.
His coworker and best friend, Stefanos Domatiotis, is kind of a legend in barista competitions because he has competed as the Greek Champion for so many years. But now, it’s Chris’ turn.
He’s got an ease and level of comfort on stage that belie his years of competitions. He’s practically dancing to the beat of his competition music. He’s using two coffees; for his cappuccino course, he’s brought a pacamara from the Santa Ana region of Guatemala. He talks intimately about the farmer; Taf is famous for forging tight relationships with their producer partners, so this is no surprise, but nice to see nonetheless.
He tells the judges that this coffee from Guatemala matures especially slowly, which is what he attributes the amazing sweetness of the coffee to.
For his signature drink, he is using Vahlrona cocoa, smashed blackberry, and a micro lot Panama Geisha from Ninety Plus.
It should be noted that Chris and his team are flying high, as Stefanos has just been crowned World Brewers Cup Champion of 2014. But Chris couldn’t be more focused. Still, his energy is effervescent, he’s so smooth and, well, human.
He pulls shots of the Geisha and presents them to the judges, asking them to stir and sniff them. Then he filters the cocoa and blackberry juice through a Chemex and adds the espressos, one by one, to the Chemex. He swirls the liquid in the Chemex, redistributes into some lovely glass, and serves to his judges. It’s elegant and deceptively simple—a really special drink and a stand-out performance.