#20: BARISTA CHAMPION OF ITALY—MICHELE PAULETIC
Italy’s Michele Pauketic is ready to get the day off to a great start! He takes the stage with confidence and ease, welcoming the judges warmly before launching into his explanation of his coffee, a blend of Ethiopian, Costa Rican and Brazilian beans. He says as he serves his cappuccinos two by two and pours tableside, that he has really focused on aromatics, texture of foam and temperature of the drink. For his signature drink, he combines white chocolate, dark chocolate and licorice with his espresso. Bravo, Michele!
#21: BARISTA CHAMPION OF FINLAND—MIKKO HAAHTI
Mikko is a return competitor, having represented Finland at the WBC in Copenhagen in 2008. He’s got a great team of supporters here, including his pals and brother from Finland, as well as his new Atlanta family, headed up by Octane Coffee’s Ben Helfen. Mikko begins his presentation by telling his judges about his coffee, from Ethiopia, which will show smooth acidity in the cup, lemon, which “will sparkle on in front of the tounge,” and he says the best part is the strawberries. The crowd loves Mikko from the start, but they cheer extra loud when they see his signature drink preparation, which is especially lovely to watch. He brings out a bunsin burner and cooks chocolate and cream for a rich addition to his espresso. Unfortunately, Mikko finishes about 20 seconds over time, but it was a lovely presentation to watch, and Mikko should be very proud!
#22: BARISTA CHAMPION OF NICARAGUA—REBECCA DE LOS ANGELES RAMOS MORAN
Feliz Cumpleaños, Rebecca! Today is Rebecca’s birthday, and she couldn’t be more excited to spend it on stage representing Nicaragua at the World Barista Championship. Unfortunately for you, blog readers, my Spanish is pretty rusty, and Rebecca is delivering her entire presentation in Spanish, so I can’t tell you about what she’s saying to the judges. But I can describe for you what she’s doing on stage. For example, she pours nice hearts on her cappuccinos and doesn’t seem a bit nervous. She has a great cheering section, including colorfully dresses traditional Nicaraguan dancers who cheer and shake their fists in the air whenever she serves a drink. And oh my goodness, she’s using Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in her competition music playlist. Right on!
#23: BARISTA CHAMPION OF BRAZI—YARA THAIS CASTANHO
Brazil has more and more baristas in their competition every year (and no wonder, considering the coffee powerhouse that the country is and continues to be), and so Yara’s win is incredibly impressive. Yara is a delight to watch. I’m especially excited about the creativity with which she infuses her signature beverage creation: she is preparing breakfast for the judges in the form on granola. She has infused milk with the flavors of her granola—almonds, pecans, coconut, cinammon, vanilla, honey, and oats. She strains this mixture from the milk, and foams the milk. She has also created a compote out of red fruits, including raspberry and blueberry. Great job, Yara!