WBC Finalist #1: Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, UK

Confession: I’ve fallen in love with Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood this past week in Vienna. The Barista Champion of the United Kingdom is everything a champion should be: gracious, friendly, honest, and impeccable in his barista skills. It’s been a joy to watch him this week, and today in the WBC Finals, Maxwell delivered his best presentation to date.

Maxwell brilliantly engages his judges, without for a moment talking down to them. He's just friendly, interested and welcoming.

His presentation comes across as very smooth, that is to say, he makes it so easy to understand. But make no mistake: his performance is infinitely complex. He takes one coffee, a single origin Bolivia, and uses the opportunity to prepare it as espresso, cappuccinoand his signature drink, as a way to offer dramatically different perspectives on the coffee. I don’t have the quote exactly, but I loved how he said that experiencing the coffee as a cappuccino would be like taking a step back from it, changing vantage point, and trying it again. It made me really, really want to try it.

Maxwell was happy and witty, while still delivering all the respect to his coffee that he felt it deserved.

I got to see more of his signature drink today: he again approaches the the espresso—a straight shot but with slightly different brew ratios—with different angles. First, he asks the judges to taste a sip of the espresso as itself. Then, he has them taste it with a bit of freshly juiced grapefruit. Finally, he asks them to swirl a bit of a simple tea he made on stage—licorice and star anise—in their mouths, then taste the espresso again.

Maxwell creates the tea on stage.

Juicing the grapefruit, then straining.

Maxwell, well done. You did your country proud and should be truly happy with your performance today.

Final time: 14.51

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.