2016 WBC Finalist #3: Lex Wenneker, The Netherlands

The Netherlands has an interesting history at the WBC, with a high finish in 2008 (Lisbeth took 2nd), but not much presence in the semis and finals since then ”until now. Lex Wenneker has been a surprise hit at this year’s competition, powering through the preliminary round all the way to the finals today, and watching his performance, it quickly becomes apparent why.

I just loved Lex’s routine, from the premise to the execution. Before seeing Lex’s performance, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea of a set based on wine and coffee comparisons ”it’s been done so much. But Lex’s approach was super original and, well, just beautifully done.

Lex serves his judges brewed coffee of the same variety as each course of espresso.
Lex serves his judges brewed coffee of the same variety as each course of espresso.

He began with a short story of being at a restaurant ordering a bottle of Pinot Noir, and how it occurred to him that we order wine by variety, but that’s not the way we order coffee. We talk about producing countries, flavor notes, even processing methods all the time, but we don’t talk as much about variety. Lex wanted to explore that, and he took the wine theme and ran with it.

Lex began by serving the judges a taste of a bottled brewed coffee (bottled in a wine bottle, of course). It was a Sudan Rune (interestingly, the little-explored variety that Sasa Sestic used to win the 2015 WBC). He explained to the judges that they would taste pomegranate and lemongrass in the cup, and then he turned around and brewed it as espresso.

Lex is a longtime coffee professional who hails from Amsterdam.
Lex is a longtime coffee professional who hails from Amsterdam.

For his milk drink course ”which featured milk he brought all the way from Holland ”he chose a Gesha, which, he explained, resulted in a beautiful complex acidity and red fruit in the cup. Again, he served the judges from a bottle of brewed coffee to begin with.

Finally, Lex featured a Pacamara for his signature drink. After once again serving the judges a sip of the coffee as filter from a bottle, he brewed shots of espresso, and combined them at the table with carrot, elder flower, and pomegranate syrup to showcase a bright acidity with nuances of nectarines. He blended them as he tidied his station, and everyone nervously watched the clock as it ticked toward 15 minutes. The professional that he is, Lex didn’t let it faze him, and his  finish was as  lovely as his start.

Lex is the returning champion of The Netherlands.
Lex is the returning champion of The Netherlands.

NOTES:
¢ Lex used Sasa’s OCD coffee distributor
¢ All three varieties used came from the same Colombian farm, Las Margaritas
¢ Lex’s final time was 15 minutes, 14 seconds

 

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