WBC Day Zero: Competitors meeting, backstage, judges, and more!

Media Sponsor Barista Mag in the house!

Here we are in Melbourne, Australia, ready and set to go for the kick-off of the 2013 World Barista Championship tomorrow morning! Eeeek! We’re so excited!

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Today I was up bright and early and headed to the outskirts of town to the Melbourne Showgrounds, where the WBC is taking place in conjunction with the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE), which is a BIG DEAL coffee conference and the largest coffee expo in the Southern Hemisphere. MICE only debuted last year, but it’s already a frontrunner for most relevant and international of the coffee shows worldwide.

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I wandered from the tram station up to the Showgrounds, and after poking my head into the gun show taking place in the hall next door to MICE, finally found my way to my people: coffee people! I was there to sit in on the WBC competitor meeting, where all 53 competitors came together to ask last questions of show organizers and World Coffee Events staff such as the amazing Marcus Boni, who is here running logistics for the WBC.

Seriously, when are we gonna elect this guy president? Marcus is the BEST.

Seriously, when are we gonna elect this guy president? Marcus is the BEST.

I walked through the main entrance to MICE, where the show was in utter chaos, as these things are on the day before kickoff—exhibitors madly building booths, etc. The World Brewers Cup is set right in the center of the main MICE show floor which is under a circus big top tent. Further on, through a tunnel past more and more exhibitors (this thing is massive!) lay the WBC area, spectacularly outfitted with a gorgeous stage and seating along all four sides: 1200 seats in all!

There are 1,200 seats at the WBC in Melbourne. And see all thoseflags up top? DaVinci provided all those, and each country's champ will take his/her flag home at the end of the event.

There are 1,200 seats at the WBC in Melbourne. And see all thoseflags up top? DaVinci provided all those, and each country’s champ will take his/her flag home at the end of the event.

This is where the competitors had gathered to see Marcus and the other organizers, ask questions, tour the back stage area, find their prep tables, meet with representatives from Nuova Simonelli—official espresso machine—and Mahlkönig—official grinder. There was a lot going on!

Meantime, upstairs, the World Barista Championship certified judges were gathered for day two of their certification. I poked in on them to say hello and snap some pics, as well.

Then there was some of the most fun stuff that happens the day before the WBC: reuniting with old friends, watching competitors unload their wares, chats with fellow sponsors , and general merriment. Hooray! The WBC is here! (Barista Magazine is once again the Official Media Sponsor of the WBC. You can check out the official WBC 2013 Program produced by Barista Magazine here.)

I snapped photos around the whole scene, and fast tracked back to my flat to upload these photos for you folks to enjoy from home. As soon as I finish this, I’m off to Proud Mary for the official Meet & Greet with all the competitors. It’s sure to be a fun evening, but also a somewhat sober one, as the competitors have pre-competition jitters, no doubt.

And then tomorrow I’ll be back many times to give you updates on all the juicy stuff happening here in Melbourne. Besides following along here with my reports from Melbourne, I encourage you to hop onto the live stream to watch the WBC for yourself. Just go HERE.

So that’s it, folks: it’s WBC time! For all the details on competitor time in the first round (which begins on Thursday, May 23, and concludes with the announcement of the semifinalists on Friday, May 24), go HERE

I love the fighting kangaroo on the specially designed Mahlkönig grinders! Let the WBC begin!

I love the fighting kangaroo on the specially designed Mahlkönig grinders! Let the WBC begin!

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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.