Guatemala, Austria, Sweden

#47: BARISTA CHAMPION OF GUATEMALA—RAUL RODAS

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Raul is back this year after a tremendous showing in Copenhagen at the World Barista Championship in 2008. He has practiced hard for this second chance, and it shows. He is using a coffee from the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala, and he is intimately familiar with this coffee. He doesn’t merely tell the judges that  his coffee will be sweet, rather, he explains how the altitude at which the coffee was grown, coupled with the sun and shade patterns of specific times of the day allow the juices from the cherry fruit to seep into the bean in dramatic proportions. It’s a delight to listen to Raul talk about this coffee. He tells the judges that they will taste brown sugar and butterscotch, and to emphasize the point, he has them sniff from cups of the roasted coffee ground. His signature drink brings tgether almonds and cranberries to bring out the flavors of meyer lemon, cherry sweetness and a lingering cocoa, just as he explains to the judges. Bravo, Raul!

#48: BARISTA CHAMPION OF AUSTRIA—GEORG BRANNY

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After a memorable performance in the 2008 World Barista Championship, Georg is back and more polished than ever. He has brought one coffee but is using tw grinders, since the coffee he will use for the espresso is roasted a bit lighter than that which he uses for the cappuccinos and signature drinks. He has brought two primary ingredients, a brown sugar and a honey, in individual jars, and he offers them to the judges to sniff. He will also use a Tonka bean from Brazil to round out his signature drink. He tells the judges a lot of specifics about his milk, as well, including the fact that the milk has been flown in sdirectly from the Austrian Alps, and has a fat content of 3.6%. He says the milk plays well with the aromas of the blend. And get this—he is using a Puerto Rican coffee, which is a bold choice considering few competitors usually use this region’s coffee. But Georg says he was inspired by a recent trip to uerto Rico. Wonderful showing, Georg!

#49: BARISTA CHAMPION OF SWEDEN—CLAES MATTIAS BJORKLUND

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Known in Gothenburg, Sweden, as Handsome Mattias, this barista champ doubles as a model. He’s a crowd favorite for sure, and there are a lot of Swedish fans here cheering him on. I love that he describes his espresso as “cheeky” as well as elegant. He carries this theme throughout his performance, this idea of his coffee being rough and at the same time, classic. His signature drink ingredients are quite interesting: he chops lemongrass root, sundried apricots and a sunchoke. He makes a juice of the meongrass root in a blender, and the drink, once espresso is added, is served cold. As a final, delightful touch, Mattias adds a stalk of lemongrass to each cup as a stir stick. He has done his cafe/roastery, da Matteo, proud with this performance. Great job, Mattias.

About the Author

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.