#1: BARISTA CHAMPION OF TAIWAN—CHIA-MING TSAO
Taiwan’s Chia-Ming Tsao is the first to take the stage, with beautiful tableware and a very cool, calm disposition. A good sized crowd is gathered to cheer him on. His music a a pleasing, bouncy jazz number studded by cheerful horns and percussion. He’s doing his cappuccino pours tableside because, he says, “I really enjoy sharing with people the beautiful pattern of latte art.” His hearts are beautiful. “The Kenya in the blend adds an everlasting cocoa finish,” he tells the judges. For Chia-Ming’s singnature drink, he combines cocoa and cinnamon, lemon and ice cream—he says the ice cream increases the mouthfeel of the drink. He pours the espresso into wide bottomed glasses, and then puts the cups with ice cream upside down on top of the espresso. When he serves the drink to the judges, he instructs them to remove the ice cream glass to allow the ice cream to fall into the espresso mixture. Beautiful drink and exceptionally executed! Chia-Ming finishes at 14:53.
#2: BARISTA CHAMPION OF UKRAINE—OLEKSANDR KHADSHY
Oleksandr Khadshy is the returning champion of Ukraine, and he’s obviously a pro. His station is immaculate. He does some prep work on his signature drinks before he launches into his espressos. I must apologize that due to technical problems here in the blog room I did not catch all of Oleksandr’s performance. His signature drinks are studies in beauty, served in low glasses with a rich, cream set carefully on top.
#3: BARISTA CHAMPION OF CHINA—JIN BAO LIN
Jin Bao Lin begins his performance by explaining his coffee to his judges, telling them the components of his blend, which include 40 percent Guatemalan coffee. He instructs his judges to smell his espresso before they drink it, and he assures them there will be no bitterness in the cup, just a full bodied, round espresso finish. Jin Bao prepares all four cappuccinos together and serves them to the judges with impressive latte art. He returns to his hot plate and resumes work on his signature drink—and he has plenty of time, as he’s just over the 10 minute mark. He’s doing some molecular gastromy here, creating a gelatin in a water bath and then he scoops it into 4 tall glasses. He pours cream on top, and then infuses with espresso from the side.