WBC Day 2 – Everything You Know Is Wrong

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Day 2 has drawn to a close, and we have our six baristas for tomorrow’s final round. And we’ll get to them in more detail in a later post. First we’ll run through all 22 competitors from today’s action, and here again we had it all: new records, new countries, new drinks, new routines, and well after tomorrow we’ll have a new champion.

But first just look at that image above. It’s the new record for attendance at a WBC event, and it was set here in Tokyo. The crowd was standing room only for the Japanese competitor, Miyuki Miyamae. It was beyond standing room only, actually. It was at overflow status. They filled every chair. The stood in every available square inch. They spilled out the doors. It was terrific.

And Doug Zell and Michell Campbell and the dozens if not hundreds of staff and volunteers that have made this WBC such a success get tons of deserved credit, but the real story here is very nearly something out of Hollywood. Corny as it may be, it really does seem to be this: If you build it, they will come. The story is the constant improvement we’ve seen over the last few years of the competitors themselves has created a very real and very cool vibe. And more and more people are really getting it. It’s viral, it’s contagious, and it’s bringing out the very best in specialty coffee all over the world.
Sure they came to see the hometown competitor, but did you really expect this kind of response to a barista competition, even if it’s the WBC? It’s not like you can turn on your TV and see one of these on the Food Network or anywhere else really. And yet they came. They heard about it somehow. Someone told somebody that they should really check this thing out, and guess what? They did. Not only that they loved it!

Forty-five baristas from all over the world gathered here in Tokyo to celebrate something that’s obviously dear to their hearts. They demonstrated it, one after another, by creating 12 coffee drinks. Think about that for a second. Forty-five people creating 12 drinks in 15 minute sets over two days with passion, dignity, respect, and love. Look what it can do.

This is the power has been unleashed by taking 12 drinks and pushing them to the highest levels of quality these baristas can reach. That’s simply outstanding. If something that we would normally consider so insignificant and ordinary can be made transcendent and extraordinary by the power of these dedicated baristas, and the coffee farmers, and the roasters, and all of those other links in the chain, what could we do if we put this much hope, passion and love into all the seemingly small things that fill our days?

It’s late, that’s true, and I haven’t had much sleep, so maybe I’m just in some sort of dream state here, but holy cow, man, look at where we’ve come in such a short time. Where will we go next?

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This is the thought I’m left with after today:

“Never doubt that a small dedicated group of people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

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