#16: BARISTA CHAMPION OF RWANDA—JEAN PIERRE NYAMABUMBA
I was lucky enough to meet Jean Pierre—or JP—in Rwanda at the country’s first national barista championship, held last February in Kigali. JP is a leader in his barista community, with enthusiasm and energy to spare. Though today’s stage is a lot bigger than the one he commanded in Kigali, JP is as calm as ever, and he welcomes his judges with the same enthusiasm that helped him win the competition back in Kigali. He is so proud of his coffee, a single origin Rwanda he has brought from his company Bourbon Coffee, where JP has worked extensively with his roaster on the profile. JP serves his judges their cappuccinos two at a time, and attempts latte art on all of them. JP’s signature drink brings orange together with the citrusy Rwandan coffee JP is using. His presentation is enthusiastic and delightful to watch. Congratulations, JP!
#17: BARISTA CHAMPION OF TURKEY—ENGIN KASAL
Engin turned in a great performance his first time at the WBC, last year in Copenhagen, and he’s back again to try for the crown. He tells us later that he learned a lot from his experience in Copenhagen, mainly timing issues. And they won’t be a problem for him today. He begins his performance here by lighting a tall candle on the table and explaining to the judges, “I am a romantic man.” He says he is using a Yemen Mocha that was picked in December an roasted four days ago. He pours outstanding latte art on his cappuccinos and tells the judges about the four different coffees that comprise his blend as he serves them. Engin’s station is immaculate as he finishes up. Terrific work, Engin!
#18: NATIONAL CHAMPION OF LITHUANIA—RASA BASCIULYTE
Rasa is adorable. She has her table decked out in hot pink, which matches her ruffled apron. She has a pink ribbon tied around her neck, and another ribbon around her water pitcher. Rasa tells the judges that her nickname at her cafe is Barbie, so she has gone BIG with that theme here at the WBC. On to the coffee: Rasa tells us it is a blend of Kenyan and Rwandan coffee. Serving her espresso, she says there are floral and fruit notes. Rasa has one of the cutest presentations of signature drinks that I’ve seen: she manages to line chocolate syrup vertically up each side of the glass, then she actually ties it in a bow (not literally, but that’s the visual result). Very well done, Rasa!
#19: BARISTA CHAMPION OF ICELAND—PALMER THOR HLODVERSSON
Iceland’s competitor always brings something special to the stage, and Palmer, who competed in Copenhagen at the 2008 WBC, is no exception. He has brought Ethanol, a 100 percent alcohol that is odorless as it burns, into which he hats a silver pitcher. The effect is dramatic. His coffee, which includes Yirgacheffe, will taste, he tells the judges, like he just sqeezed some lemon juice into the cup. He goes on to say that a Brazilian coffee, also in the blend, will add body and sweetness. As he pours his cappuccinos tableside, 2 by 2, he tells the judges that his coffee was roasted 10 days ago, and he says that during his practice sessions, he really enjoyed the cappuccinos because of those lemony flavors. When he serves his espressos, he tells the judges they will taste a very high acidity, along with that lemony note. on to his signature drink: palmer is using a Venezuelan chili which has the distinctive scent of almond, vanilla, cinammon and clove. He prepares a chocolate ganache at the table—a challenging task. I love it that he is playing James Bond music.