#7: BARISTA CHAMPION OF SOUTH AFRICA—ISHAN NATALIE
Ishan Natalie is a truly engaging, enjoyable barista to watch. So friendly and confident, Ishan brings an easy elegance to the stage. This came across especially well when he was presenting his cappuccinos to the judges. He explained that he himself enjoys cappuccinos at all different times of the day, not just in the morning, as is tradition, because there is a certain luxury to enjoying cappuccinos in the afternoon or early evening. For his signature drink, Ishan pulled 6 shots of espresso, and combined some spices he said he enjoys using in cooking—cinnamon and orange peel among them. He served his drink in squat wine glasses, and had the judges swirl the drink before they consumed it. “Hopefully you’ll drink the whole thing to experience the true nature of this drink,” he told the judges. Truly a delight to watch.
#8: BARISTA CHAMPION OF LEBANON—JOSEPH EL KHOURY
I remember first seeing Joseph compete in the world barista championship in Trieste, Italy, in 2003—he is a true professional and craftsman. He explained to the judges that his signature drink was a complex creation and would take a while to prepare, so he began his performance by preparing a few of the ingredients, including a chocolate sauce and some peppermint. He then invited the judges to snack on “my momma’s pastry” which he had brought all the way from Lebanon for each judge. Nice touch, Joseph! He prepared his cappuccinos two at a time. And he informed the crowd that he had roasted the coffee himself. The signature drink presentation was lovely, served with four sparkling white teapots. As we’ve come to expect from Joseph over the years, his performance was unique and memorable and of course, full of energy.
#9: BARISTA CHAMPION OF GREECE—STELIOS ROUMELIOTIS
Stelios is back for the second year in a row representing Greece, and he’s for sure brought his A game. He’s at once serious and calm on stage, engaging the judges in his presentation from the get-go. Using the lovely Terrakeramik cups, he serves his espresso course, telling the judges they will taste hints of milk chocolate and red fruits. He follows with cappuccinos served 2 by 2. He pours latte art tableside and explains the caramel flavors the judges can expect in the cup. He serves his signature drink in several parts—please forgive me but I can’t understand what he’s saying about his drink due to echo! Looks like he is serving two glasses of espresso, one infused with cream. Wonderful job, Stelios!