Hungarian barista champion, Antal Kovacs, created his own competition espresso blend featuring 80% arabicas from Latin America, and 20% robutsa from Asia. He also used a sort of wooden stencil to create an interesting chocolate pattern on his signature drink glasses.
Czech barista champion, Frantisek Rohacek, originally took the stage clothed in a cape of his country’s flag and matching hat. He then whipped up the crowd by asking for the music to be turned up, tore off the gaudy dress to reveal a classic clothing style hidden underneath and seemed darned pleased to be competing in the WBC.
Willem Pienaars, the first ever barista champion from South Africa, served his signature drink in traditional African carved wooden glasses. His apron read, “Caution: Barista in Training.” But he performed like a pro.
Two-time United States Barista Champion, Heather Perry, put on a dazzling performance capped with her lovely signature drink, Coffee in the Clouds. She said she used to think about becoming a lawyer, and that she considered being a barista a temporary job, until she had the chance to visit Costa Rica. “Then I always knew coffee would be a part of my life,” she said. I’m glad Heather’s a barista. You can insert your own lawyer joke here.
Chinese barsita champion, Mu Feng, had many in the audience clapping and cheering him on throughout his routine. He was one of the few competitors to ask for the grinder to be set up on the left side of the espresso machine. He’s been a barista for five years and enjoys making coffee every day.
Guatemalan barista champion, Noe Castro, competed with the same Guatemalan espresso blend he uses in his café. “I chose this blend,” he said,” because of the perfect combination of flavors. My favorite part about being a barista is that I get to talk to so many people in my coffee shop.”
Peter Deprez, the barista champion from Belgium, is a barista and a coffee roaster. He roasted and blended his own competition blend. His trademark saying was “Why not?” As in why not try something new?
Zambia’s first barista champion, Francis Njobvu, said he decided to become a barista to help improve the coffee culture in his home country. “Zambia has always been a tea culture,” he said, “but we can grow coffee.” He was proud that he won the inaugural barista competition against the other competitors even though he works at a small café and they all worked at large hotels and bars.