Finalist #5: United Kingdom

World Barista Championship FINALIST #5

GWILYM DAVIES OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

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Gwilym is a chilled out British dude who lives on a boat in London with his dog. He has two coffee carts, and he’s made friends with the good people at Square Mile Coffee—that would be James and Anette if you didn’t know it. This is not really his thing, this convention center/hi-how-are-ya/badge wearing/smack talking/trade show thing. You can tell. He is here for one reason, it seems, and that’s to have a good old time with his pals and maybe talk some coffee talk with like-minded people.

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He loves this coffee, so that’s what he focuses on when he takes the stage here today. It’s from one community in Colombia, and Gwilym seems to think it has an extraordinary depth and complexity, which is why, we learn later, he has left so much of his signature drink up to chance. He begins as he did yesterday, by telling us how disappointing espresso can be. It’s a theme he continues through his entire performance, and the conclusion we eventually reach is that his vision is for espresso consumers to understand the importance of widening our expectation of what espresso can be.

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Onward: he tells the judges that n the espresso, they will taste hot buttered toast smothered in blackberry jam, along with black current and some toffee at the end. In his cappuccinos, he says the lovely fruit juice of the espresso will give way t a softer jammy fruitiness. The cappuccino, he says, “is just a lovely representation of this coffee’s flavors.”

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Gwilym has one of the most impessive and also dangerous (it would seem) signature drinks ever to show up at the World Barista Championship. He has assembled a collection of 16 ingredients—four that represent sweetness he finds in the coffee, four that represent the texture he finds in the coffee, four that represent the fruitiness he finds in the coffee, and four that represent the flavors he finds in the coffee.

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He says these are the “best bits of his coffee and they really show the possibility of this espresso. And, he says, “I just want to have fun.” He takes these ingredients and combines them—nuts, butter, notes of orange—and combines it with the espresso.

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Gwilym goes over time by 13 seconds (I’m pretty sure) but he says later, “I’d rather give (the judges) the drink I want to give them and come in a little late.” Bravo, Gwilym. You are a fantastic example of the purest part of the best baristas. Can’t wait to visit your carts in London in 2010 at the 11th World Barista Championship!

About the Author

Sarah

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.