NATIONAL CHAMPION OF NORWAY
Chris is super smooth from the very beginning, obviously well versed in his coffee origins and characters. Chris used two coffees, one in his espresso and one in his cappuccino. For his signature drink, used both coffees, one as a foam and one as his espresso. Chris is new to the scene, but he’s had WBC champ Tim Wendelboe training him for months, and it showed.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF SWITZERLAND
Thomas begins his presentation by telling the judges that his profession is industrial design but that his passion is coffee. He explains the origins of the coffees he’ll feature in his espresso, and his knowledge of his coffee is impressive. He’s quick and obviously pro — remember that at the 2007 WBC in Tokyo, Switzerland’s barista champion made it to the finals round for the very first time, so this is for sure a country to watch. He says his presentation is called Yin and Yang. He’s using a mascarpone and coconut, and pineapple in foam poured in the Yin Yang shape, topped with chocolate dots. One more note: to cool down his espresso, he poured marbles into them inside a martini shaker. There’s one we’ve never seen before. Nice job, Thomas!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF ICELAND
PALMER THOR HLODVERSSON
Palmer is very enthusiastic about the Yellow Bourbon in his espresso — he’s obviously very comfortable with and well versed in his coffee. Serving his espressos, he asks the judges to swirl it in the cup like wine for the best taste sensation. He’s using a Danish whole milk, he says, because our Icelanic whole milk isn’t that good! I’m sort of surprised to hear that… He says he’s making a sorbet using liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze hi syrup — it’s totally got the wow factor.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
This is fun to watch: Emcee and current WBC champ, James Hoffmann of the UK, introducing Hugo, current UK champ. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Hugo, but what I like right off the bat is his easy, uber friendly approach. He pours simply gorgeous latte art, two hearts and two rosettas. For Hugo’s signature drink, called Turkish Delight, he says he’s going back to a taste he loved as a child: a jelly bar covered in chocolate. Of his first reaction to the candy he says, “I couldn’t believe anything could be made into food that tasted so peculiar.” He said he wanted to use two of the candy’s primary ingredients, rosewater and coconut. To get the judges ready for the drink, he has them smell Iranian rose petals from a bud vase in front of them. Terrific job.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF SINGAPORE
JOHN TING JHI CHIANG
John moves very quickly but without a misstep, preparing lovely cappuccino and espressos. He’s got a friendly manner with the judges and seems to truly enjoy being up there. Justin Metcalf just sat down nexxt to me and was telling me what amazing changes and improvements John has made since he first met him at the initial Singapore barista championship. Bravo, John.
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