Annnnddd I’m back! For the third year, I’m lucky enough to be joining in one of the industry’s most unique, not to mention successful, promotional coffee events: the Specialty Coffee Show in Red Square, produced by Russian coffee company Soyuz Coffee Roasting.
Soyuz’s visionaries Drago Lakic and Regina Vasilyeva had the wild idea for this event more than three years ago: they wanted to introduce specialty coffee to Russian consumers, an historically tea drinking populace. And how better to make the introduction than with some of the best baristas in the world?
On deck right now: reigning World Barista Champion Pete Licata (USA); 2011 World Latte Art Champ Christos Loukakis (Greece); 2013 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champ Victor Delpierre (France); Turkish Brewers Cup Champ Asli Yaman; and WBC finalist (2012, 2011) Stefanos Domatiotis (Greece). The guys (and Asli) are making coffee for the people of Russia in this giant tent erected right on Red Square, in conjunction with the annual music festival, Spasskaya Tower.
On Wednesday, the second shift arrives: 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez (El Salvador); WBC finalist (2011) Javier Garcia (Spain); WBC finalist (2013) William Hernandez (El Salvador); and WBC finalist (2013) Francesco Sanapo (Italy).
We’ll all have one wild night together—joined of course by our pals from Nuova Simonelli, Giovanni Fucili and Svetlana Titova (we’ve got WBC Aurelias here in the tent, people, not to mention Mythos grinders)—on Wednesday when group two has arrived, and before group one leaves. I’m already bracing myself.
It’s such a treat to be once again in the middle of this festival of people and coffee—I absolutely love the magic these baristas weave, music pounding, smiling, dancing, singing. There’s never been anything quite like it.
This year, Drago and Regina have added two new elements to the event, and they’ve been wildly popular right off the bat: the first is a series of educational sessions led by the baristas in the daytime (the festival and public coffee is in the evenings); and the second is a slow bar where Asli is showcasing her talents and answering a lot of questions about Kalita, V60, Chemex, AeroPress, and Clever for the curious Muscovites.
Here are some photos from this first day…