2016 WBC Finalist #1: Charlotte Malaval, France

What to say about the lovely Charlotte Malaval, Barista Champion of France? I first met her in 2014 at the French Barista Championship in Paris, where she came out of nowhere to take first place in a country that was quickly distinguishing itself as a powerhouse in coffee competitions (Victor Delpierre of France won the World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship in 2013). Charlotte was just 21 at the time, and already possessed such presence and professionalism that it was immediately clear she would be one to reckon with in the future.

Her longtime friend and mentor, Francesco Sanapo ”who owns Ditta Artigianale in Florence, Italy, and is himself a former Italian Barista Champion several times over ”worked closely with Charlotte for her debut at the World Barista Championship in Seattle in 2015, and wow, did she ever prove herself, taking sixth place right out of the gate.

Charlotte ”calm and composed, always with a ready smile.
Charlotte ”calm and composed, always with a ready smile.

Charlotte was far from finished after Seattle though. In fact, she was more energized than ever. Along with Francesco, she assembled an intensely talented team to help her along the way to the next French championship, which included Roukiat Delrue, who has worked with countless talented competitors in the past and is a longtime World Barista Championship-certified head judge; Amanda Juris, former U.S. Cup Tasters Champion; and Hidenori Izaki, the 2014 World Barista Champion who coached Australian Sasa Sestic all the way to the win at the 2015 WBC in Seattle. She won her second French Championship by a mile.

Now, here in Dublin at her second WBC event, Charlotte is completely transformed from Seattle. She is still the kindhearted, happy Charlotte that the coffee community has come to love dearly, but she is a much more formidable competitor. It’s been said throughout this event that she would be a spectacular ambassador for the world coffee community, particularly;y as the first female champion, should she win today.

Charlotte engaged her judges beautifully.
Charlotte engaged her judges beautifully.

Charlotte’s performance here was superbly paced and very well explained. She worked with El Salavadoran producer Emilio Lopez for her coffee, which she explains is a beautiful coffee, but certainly accessible as well, both in the cup and from the wallet. She explained to the judges that there are so many elements of coffee production that we have control over ”selective picking, careful processing, etc. Her entire routine, in fact, was based on impressions and how what we see ”or in this case, taste ”at first is not always as it seems.

It was a magical performance. Very well done, Charlotte!

Is it a bunny or a duck? In this photo, it's a bunny. But when she turns it to the side, the bunny ears become the duck's bill.
Is it a bunny or a duck? In this photo, it’s a bunny. But when she turns it to the side, the bunny ears become the duck’s bill.

¢ Charlotte used the OCD coffee distributor invented by 2015 WBC Champ Sasa Sestic, which has been very popular at this year’s event
¢ Her signature drink combined fresh strawberries, basil, and cinnamon, poured over ice in a siphon with espresso. It was served in a simple, stemless wine glass with no adornments
¢ Tasting notes:  bright plum acidity, floral, delicate, long lasting
¢ She will perhaps always be associated from this point on with the bunny that becomes a duck (see photo)


About Sarah 934 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.