Overview Of The 2023 World Barista Championship: Competition Review And Emerging Trends

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
World Barista Championship

From June 21st to 24th, 2023, the World of Coffee Athens in Greece was the vibrant host of this year’s World Barista Championship. The event, alongside the 2023 World Brewers Cup, World Cup Tasters, and World Cezve/Ibrik Championships, stood out as one of the most thrilling highlights of the expo.

In a historic victory, Boram Um from Brazil clinched the World Barista Championship title, marking the first time a competitor from Brazil has won the coveted title. Boram triumphed over five other finalists in a tense and competitive showdown.

But that’s not all there was to the 2023 World Barista Championship. Continue reading to delve into the performances of the top six competitors, and discover what future competitions might have in store.

Exploring the finalists’s performances at this year’s WBS the 2023 word’s coffee

Championships saw participation from 140 competitors, a significant number of whom vied for the top spot in the World Barista Championships.

Out of these, only six distinguished themselves to advance to the competition’s climactic final round.

Boram Um from Brazil: A Champion’s Journey to the top

Boram Um, representing Um Coffee Co., emerged as this year’s World Barista Champion, demonstrating his deep familiarity and expertise within the competitive coffee arena. Having finished seventh in the 2022 WBC and sixteenth the year before, Boram’s trajectory has been one of remarkable progress and dedication.

Kicking off his presentation with the poignant question, “Have you ever heard the line ‘it takes teamwork to make the dream work?’” Boram set the stage for his compelling narrative on the collaborative effort required across the coffee supply chain to enhance the quality of coffee.

For his espresso offering, Boram chose an anaerobically fermented Gesha variety from Janson Family Estates in Panama, introducing a novel technique known as rapid chilling—or extract chilling—to prepare his espresso. This method, he explained, is key to retaining more aromatic compounds in the coffee.

In the milk beverage category, Boram opted for a harmonious blend of Gesha from Janson Family Estates and a natural Pink Bourbon from Fazenda Um, his family’s farm in Brazil. He innovatively used freeze-distilled lactose-free milk with 3% fat content, which he then rapid-chilled after steaming to 50°C, aiming to sharpen the flavor clarity.

Concluding with his signature drink, Boram revisited the Pink Bourbon and intertwined it with his overarching theme of collaboration. By carefully selecting different ingredients to symbolize the roles of the producer, roaster, barista, and consumer, he vividly illustrated to the judges how unity and teamwork are pivotal in elevating the quality of coffee.

Daniele Ricci of Italy: A visionary runner-up

Daniele Ricci, the esteemed 2023 WBC runner-up, represents a blend of international expertise and Italian pride. While working at MAME Coffee in Zurich, Switzerland, Ricci brought Italy’s rich coffee heritage to the forefront of the global stage. His journey was bolstered by guidance from Emi Fukahori, MAME’s co-founder, the 2018 World Brewers Cup Champion, and a 2021 WBC finalist.

Daniele’s presentation centered around the transformative power of intentional fermentation processes in coffee, exploring the ways they can unveil new flavors and maximize the bean’s potential.

In both his espresso and milk drink presentations, Daniele showcased a unique blend of Gesha and Caturra beans from Finca Milan, Colombia, with a specific ratio tailored to each beverage—18g of Gesha and 2g of Caturra for the espresso, and an inverse blend for the milk drinks, emphasizing the versatility of these varietals.

Daniele employed an extraction temperature of 91°C for his espresso, served in specially designed cups to enhance the judges’ sensory experience, allowing a full appreciation of the coffee’s aromatic profile.

For the milk beverage, Daniele chose freeze-distilled milk sourced from a dairy near his Italian hometown, steamed to perfection at 50°C. The coffee blend for this course was enriched with mossto juice from previous fermentations and Schizosaccharomyces yeast, introducing a subtle melon nuance.

His signature drink, a creative mocktail, featured Caturra exclusively, combined with homemade yogurt and tonic water, crafting a unique tasting experience. In a dramatic finale that underscored the importance of innovation in the specialty coffee industry, Daniele ceremoniously set his tasting note cards ablaze, leaving a lasting impression on the importance of pushing boundaries in coffee craftsmanship.

Jack Simpson from Australia: A fresh perspective from down under

Representing Axil Coffee Roasters in Melbourne, a city already celebrated for producing the 2022 World Barista Champion, Anthony Douglas, Jack Simpson made a striking debut at the WBC, securing third place in his first appearance.

Jack initiated his presentation with a thought-provoking reflection on the evolving role of baristas in the dynamic specialty coffee industry, emphasizing the need for adaptation and innovation to propel the industry forward.

One of the most captivating elements of Jack’s performance was his selection of the Ombligon variety for his espresso, sourced from Finca El Diviso in Colombia—mirroring Anthony Douglas’s choice of Sidra from the same region for the previous year’s competition. Ombligon, notable for its distinct shape, which earned it the name meaning “belly button” in Spanish, remains a mystery to many. Jack highlighted its unique processing with Saccharomyces yeast to unlock flavors of red cherry, blood orange, and yellow peach.

In pursuit of precision, Jack employed Weiss Distribution Tools for an even coffee distribution and introduced an innovative technique of using a vibrating platform for the portafilters to further refine the distribution of ground coffee particles.

For his milk-based beverages, Jack introduced vacuum-distilled cow’s milk, ingeniously reducing its water content by approximately 30% to enhance its richness.

Jack’s signature beverage round showcased his inventive spirit; by adding citric acid to his milk and employing the vibrating platform once again, he separated the milk into curds and whey. This technique not only accentuated the existing tasting notes but also introduced a novel toffee apple flavor, demonstrating Jack’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of coffee preparation and presentation.

Isaiah Sheese from the US: A visionary approach to coffee

Isaiah Sheese, the creative force behind Archetype Coffee, brings a wealth of experience from his years of participation in the US Coffee Championships to the global stage, culminating in a fourth-place finish at the 2023 World Barista Championship.

Embracing the philosophy that “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents,” Isaiah drew inspiration from the beloved American painter Bob Ross to underscore his routine’s theme. He explored the precision with which flavors can be traced back to specific stages in coffee processing and how deliberate manipulation of these stages can craft a distinct sensory profile.

In a parallel to Boram Um’s choice, Isaiah selected a Pink Bourbon variety from Finca Bella Vista in Colombia. He shared insights into the bean’s processing at Finca El Paraiso, emphasizing the use of 100% controlled fermentation techniques. Adopting a technique similar to Boram’s, Isaiah utilized extract chilling for his espresso preparation to lock in nuanced flavors of peach, oolong tea, cherry, and a dark chocolate finish.

Isaiah introduced cryodesiccated milk in his milk beverage preparation, a method chosen for its ability to deliver consistent and replicable texture and flavor in milk without adding any external ingredients, adhering to the updated 2023 WBC rules and regulations.

For his signature drink, Isaiah highlighted the Pink Bourbon’s distinctive characteristics by incorporating red food dye, alongside other inventive components like citric acid, butter syrup, and tonic water. This creative concoction not only showcased the coffee’s unique profile but also underscored Isaiah’s innovative approach to enhancing the coffee tasting experience.

Dawn Chan from Hong Kong: A mastery of balance and innovation

Dawn Chan, representing Wan Wan Coffee Roasters, has consistently proven his prowess in the coffee world. With a fourth-place finish at the 2015 WBC and three titles as the Hong Kong Barista Champion under his belt, he achieved a commendable fifth place in this year’s competition.

His routine commenced with an exploration of the Typica Mejorado variety from Finca Soledad in Ecuador, a choice that marked a new sensory adventure for Dawn and served as a catalyst for refining his brewing techniques.

Dawn’s presentation revolved around the concept of balance—envisioning it through the lenses of the future, the essence of black coffee, and the delicacy of milk-based beverages. He interpreted the “balance of the white” by presenting his milk beverages first, employing cold distilled milk steamed to 50°C to accentuate the coffee’s banana notes.

In the “balance of the black,” Dawn innovatively combined Typica Mejorado with eugenioides from Finca Inmaculada in Colombia for his espresso. This blend was chosen for its harmonious sensory profile, illustrating Dawn’s nuanced understanding of coffee’s complex flavors.

Expanding on his “balance of the future” theme, Dawn’s signature drinks were a testament to his belief in the potential of combining different coffee varieties to enhance their best qualities. He incorporated elements such as Goji tea, sugar, and a cherry flavor solution at 50% concentration, weaving a narrative of innovation and the endless possibilities within the realm of coffee. Dawn Chan’s approach not only showcased his technical skill but also his visionary perspective on the evolving landscape of specialty coffee.

Patrik Rolf from Denmark: An innovator’s take on coffee and fermentation

Patrik Rolf, the co-founder of April Coffee Roasters and a seasoned contender in the World Barista Championships, returned to the top-six spotlight, following up on his sixth-place finish in 2022 with another strong performance.

Invoking the iconic “life is like a box of chocolates” analogy from Forrest Gump, Patrik set the stage for his routine, using it to delve into the significant, yet complex, role of fermentation in the specialty coffee industry, highlighting both its benefits and challenges.

For his espresso, Patrik chose a red Gesha from Finca La Negrita in Colombia, opting for a precise 17g dose and a 48g yield to accentuate the exquisite flavors of passionfruit, white grapefruit, and peach, complemented by a silky mouthfeel. Eschewing more complex distribution tools, Patrik employed a straightforward technique of lightly tapping the portafilter before tamping, showcasing a minimalist approach to coffee preparation.

Amidst the introduction of new plant milk regulations at the 2023 WBC, Patrik distinguished himself as the only finalist to incorporate a non-dairy milk option. He ingeniously blended 90% cow’s milk with 10% coconut milk, thoughtfully chosen to enhance the coffee’s tropical tasting notes.

Patrik’s dedication to his fermentation theme shone through in his signature drink, where he incorporated two uniquely fermented components: an anaerobic fermented fig leaf cordial and koji fermented red cherry juice, further underscoring his creative and explorative approach to coffee flavor enhancement. Through his performance, Patrik Rolf not only demonstrated his mastery over the craft but also his commitment to pushing the boundaries of coffee innovation.

Highlights from the orther 2023 word coffee championdhips events

In addition to the captivating 2023 World Barista Championship, the World of Coffee Athens played host to three more thrilling competitions, each showcasing the diverse talents and innovative approaches within the global coffee community:

2023 World Brewers Cup highlights

Featuring the highest-scoring participants, the top six contenders of the World Brewers Cup 2023 included:

  • Carlos Medina from Chile
  • Savina Giachgia from Greece
  • Garam Victor Um from Brazil
  • Luca Croce from the United Kingdom
  • George Peng from China
  • Giacomo Vannelli from Italy

In a remarkable performance, Carlos Medina clinched the victory with his exceptional use of a naturally processed Sidra coffee from Café Granja La Esperanza in Colombia.

2023 world cup tasters championship rankings

The leading competitors, ranked by their scores, were as follows:

  • Young Baek, representing Australia
  • Mandie Soengkono, from Indonesia
  • Andrii Vasyliev, of Ukraine
  • Oretis Sfiris, hailing from Greece

2023 world Cezve/Ibrik championship standings

The top four competitors, ranked according to their scores, are:

  • Pierre de Chanterac from France
  • Cezara Cartes representing Romania
  • Mariam Erin Pinza of the United Arab Emirates
  • Dimitris Karampas from Greece

What to anticipate in the upcoming year

Looking ahead to the 2024 World Barista Championship, scheduled for May 1-4 at the inaugural World of Coffee Asia event in Busan, South Korea, we can expect a continuation of the trends that captivated us on the 2023 stage.

Exploring coffee rends

The Gesha variety, long celebrated in the specialty coffee realm, emerged as a distinct favorite among the finalists of this year’s World Barista Championship (WBC), with half of them showcasing this variety. Concurrently, it’s evident that this year marked a spotlight moment for other arabica varieties, notably Pink Bourbon.

Pink Bourbon, a natural hybrid between Red and Yellow Bourbon, is renowned for its challenging cultivation process. Despite this, its presence in future WBC presentations is anticipated, though its appearance on coffee shop menus may remain a rarity.

Focusing on varieties like Ombligon, Typica Mejorado, and eugenioides, the WBC is poised to remain a showcase for the exploration of new and rare arabica varieties and species.

An additional noteworthy trend is the dominance of coffees from Colombia in this year’s WBC finals, highlighting its growing prominence as a source origin, particularly after its victory in the 2022 WBC.

Blends also took center stage at the 2023 WBC, with half of the contestants incorporating them into their routines. This trend is set to persist, driven by the baristas’ focus on crafting balanced flavor profiles and pioneering new taste sensations through the strategic use of blends.

Delving into milk choices

In an interesting turn at this year’s World Barista Championship, only one competitor opted to incorporate plant milk, which was mixed with cow’s milk. Patrik Rolf’s choice to use coconut milk was notable but functioned more as an ancillary component rather than a primary one. This suggests that the full potential of the newly adjusted rules regarding plant milk has yet to be embraced by competitors.

However, the future seems promising for the integration of plant-based milks, expected to become a key element in competitors’ presentations.

A notable trend among the finalists was the adoption of milk distilling techniques, aimed at enhancing the milk’s sweetness, creaminess, and texture. This approach, adopted by five out of the six finalists, has quickly become a hallmark of WBC participants’ strategies and is likely to continue its prevalence in the competition.

Latin American triumphs in the coffee world

The 2023 World Barista Championship underscored the rising prominence of Latin American entrants, marking the second victory in three years by a competitor from a coffee-producing nation, following Diego Campos’ triumph in 2021.

Additionally, the region celebrated significant achievements in other competitions, including Chile’s groundbreaking victory in the Brewers Cup and Brazil’s placement as a finalist.

The future prospects of sustaining this level of success at the upcoming World Barista Championship (WBC) and other coffee contests remain to be seen. However, these achievements represent a significant milestone for Latin American competitors, particularly against the backdrop of a competition history traditionally dominated by entrants from the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Evolution of judging criteria and theme integration

The 2023 World Barista Championship introduced nuanced changes in the evaluation of competitors’ routines, placing a heightened emphasis on originality in concepts, methodologies, techniques, and the use of ingredients.

Participants were required to establish their expertise as coffee professionals, showcasing mastery over their presentation and the coffee itself. The criteria for the total impression score were expanded to encompass several insightful questions, including:

  • Did the presentation foster a deeper connection to coffee?
  • Was the experience immersive, thought-provoking, or significantly impactful within the specialty coffee realm?
  • Could this barista ignite a passion for specialty coffee?
  • Did the routine celebrate the art and craft of coffee-making?

The consistency and originality evident in Boram Um’s presentation, coupled with Daniele Ricci’s distinctive flair, clearly justified their top placements. Year by year, the World Barista Championship reaffirms its vital role in promoting innovation and creativity within the specialty coffee industry.

As we look forward to the 2024 World Barista Championship in Busan, South Korea, the coffee community eagerly anticipates the next wave of inspiration and ingenuity that this platform will bring.