Forty-eight countries are represented here in Tokyo, a new record for the World Barista Championship. A few, however, have yet to arrive, and the number that compete over the next two days may be 45.The hall filled early this morning as the competitors gathered for their meeting. After each competitor identified themselves and let the beautiful and talented Michelle Campbell know if they had any special equipment needs, Michelle led the competitors through the schedule for the next couple of days. Seriously, though, does anyone work harder than Michelle Campbell? And I’m not just saying that trying to get a cool WBC t-shirt for free or anything. I’m sure she doesn’t even have time to read the blog. She just works, works, works.
Current U.K. champ, James Hoffman, and former almost Irish champ, Stephen Morrisey listen to competitor introductions. (updated, thanks James)
And let me say something: It’s hot in there. It’s hot and it’s humid. I don’t know if the A/C will be on during the competition, but I can’t imagine the tricks the humidity (or when the A/C snaps on lack thereof) must be messing with competitors’ grinds. But hey, that’s just part of the game, right?
The hosts have been very excited about the barista competition, and the first thing you see when you come into the hall is the big red gate pictured at the top of the post. The SCAJ (Specialty Coffee Association of Japan) has set up a nice competition space with huge traditional-style banners and backdrops. It looks very cool.
It’s also a bit of a barista celebrity fest here with past barista champions from all over the world here, checking out the competition. Look, here’s Troels:
More to come soon… tune in often.