2016 WBC Finalist #2: Yoshikazu Iwase, Japan

We’re thrilled to see Yoshikazu Iwase back on the WBC stage this year. The two-time Japanese Barista Champion placed seventh at the 2015 World Barista Championship in Seattle, which was frankly devastating for him. He was so upset, in fact, that it almost stopped him from competing again. But rather than let his disappointment consume him, Yoshi channeled the energy into an intense, year-long preparation for this year’s WBC. First though, he had to win the Japanese Barista Championship again, which is no small feat: Japan is one of the most difficult countries to win on the national barista championship circuit.

Yoshi couldn't be more excited to be back at the WBC for the second time.
Yoshi couldn’t be more excited to be back at the WBC for the second time.

But win, he did, and here he is back at the WBC, this time, for the first time, in the finals. Yoshi, who owns REC Coffee in Fukuoka with his old university friend,  Osamu Kitazoe, is part of Ninety Plus’ Maker program. Ninety Plus works with select baristas from around the world to develop coffees through processing experiments and selective picking at their farms in Ethiopia and Panama. While these famous coffees have been used many times at the elite levels of competition, I’ve never seen anyone blend them, but that’s just what Yoshi is doing here in Dublin.

For his signature drink, Yoshi cooled four shots of a blend of 35% Ethiopian with 65% Panamanian ”both Geshas ”over ice, with a Gesha cherry honey syrup he made, and a bit of orange juice. These ingredients, he said, bring back the  floral and citric notes of a natural coffee, though he’s using a washed coffee.

Yoshi has a serious fan club!
Yoshi has a serious fan club!

Though Yoshi did get somewhat flustered partway through his finals performance, he quickly recovered with great professionalism. During a q&a with former champions Hidenori, Sasa, as well as 2008 WBC Champ Stephen Morrissey of Ireland, it was revealed that Hide and Yoshi are old friends, and grew up in the same small town.

Congratulations on a fantastic performance, Yoshi!

Yoshi used both the K30 and the EK43 grinders.
Yoshi used both the K30 and the EK43 grinders.

¢ Yoshi used both an EK43 and a K30 grinder
¢ Yoshi’s Gesha cherry honey syrup is made with  10 grams of cascara in 50 grams of hot water, with 50 grams of Acacia honey
¢ Yoshi used Sasa’s OCD coffee distributor

About Sarah 932 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.