The Barista League Takes Gothenburg

The raucous, rowdy, resoundingly beloved coffee competition was a full-on circus in Gothenburg, Sweden.

BY INGRI M. JOHNSEN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Upon entering da Matteo to attend the Barista League’s most recent event in Gothenburg, Sweden, you could immediately tell what kind of night was in store. The popular cafe and roastery in the city’s vibrant Magasinsgatan neighborhood had been transformed into a two-and-a-half-story coffee circus filled with caffeine- and beer-fueled performers and attendees. For Barista League founder Steven Moloney, this was perfectly intentional.

Judges listen to flavor descriptors from a competitor. Photo by Liz Omsen.

Steven is a two-time Swedish Barista Champion, so he knows all about the seriousness of the competition game. He wants the Barista League’s role within the coffee community to be a welcoming, fun-filled forum, and the attendees of this event would agree that it is. The competition has an informal feel, fun twists, and unexpected turns—and no entry fees. “Less rules and more laughs” is Steven’s motto. With its entertaining style, the format is audience-friendly. Baristas compete in teams of two for killer prizes and bragging rights. In Gothenburg on the evening of March 25, 13 such teams went through plenty of coffee exercises that were well outside of their comfort zone, which of course, just made the evening more thrilling.

Sponsored beer is always much welcomed by thirsty coffee people. Photo by Liz Omsen.
High-fives and giggles at the venue, da Matteo, in Magasinsgatan in Gothenburg. More than 150 people attended this seventh Barista League event. Photo by Liz Omsen.

The three rounds of the competition change for each Barista League event; the Gothenburg edition featured the following rounds:

Round 1: The God Shot competition, where competitors were tasked with making the best espressos possible in 15 minutes with a mystery coffee. The coffee provided was a washed Gesha from Hacienda La Esmeralda, which is some of the most expensive coffee in the world. Now that’s something you don’t get to brew everyday!

Round 2: This round consisted of smelling cups of various fruits and spices, blindfolded, and guessing their identities. It was not as easy as it may sound, but it certainly was as amusing to watch as it sounds.

Round 3: The cup tasters competition, but with brew variables instead of various origins. Competitors were evaluated based on how quickly they could pick up on over- or under-extraction. Would a lingering aftertaste confuse them in the heat of the moment?

Watching competitors guess what they are smelling in the competition’s second round. It’s quite different than what you see at other coffee competitions. Photo by Liz Omsen.

The main prize for Barista League Gothenburg, generously provided by Ally Coffee, was an all-inclusive trip to Budapest, Hungary, to attend the Specialty Coffee Association’s World of Coffee event June 13–15, where several world coffee championships will take place.

Team names are also a fun element of the Barista League concept. The Barista League Gothenburg teams were:

Drip It Like It’s Hot—Anton Söderman and Simon Nilsson Alteblad, from Kaffebrenneriet (Norway) and da Matteo (Sweden)

Beer Over—Clara Drake Pihlgren and Albin Frid, from da Matteo (Sweden)

Steamy Wonder—Per Baltzar and Robert Niklasson, from Kaffelabbet (Finland, Norway) and da Matteo (Sweden)

Damöb—Basta Falk and Siri Joss, from Sweden

The I Do’s—Camilla Pettersson and Christofer Landström, from da Matteo (Sweden)

Lag Ponka Feat. Viktor—Christian Gullbrandsson and Peter Hogen, from da Matteo (Sweden)

Soy No Joy—Jennifer Gedda and Joel Persson, from Bar Centro (Sweden)

Coffee Pixels—Janis Podins and Agnija Tilla, from Five Elephant (Berlin) and Coffee Pixels (Latvia)

The Danes—Rasmus Gamrath and Lukas Kragelund, from The Coffee Collective (Denmark)

Tornado Dynamite—Jakub Porecki and Blazej Stempin, from Koppi (Sweden)

Artisan BFC—Anthony Nguyen and Khattab Alkhatib, from Barista Fair Trade (Sweden)

Victor & Markus Lag—Markus Vestergaard and Victor Brygnas, from da Matteo (Sweden)

Krångliga Krabborna—Gustaf Markblad and Simone Bennetzen, from da Matteo (Sweden)

Competitors were vying not just for the array of coffee gear shown on the table, but also for the main prize—an all-inclusive trip to Budapest, Hungary, to attend the World of Coffee event in June, courtesy of Ally Coffee.
Celebrating good results in round 3, cup tasting. Somebody give this man a double high-five, stat!

After hours of amusing coffee contests, conversations with old and new friends, and lots of excitement, the top teams of the Barista League Gothenburg were crowned—with a surprise twist. Not only would the winning team—Drop It Like Its Hot—get an all-inclusive trip to Budapest (including a fancy dinner at the amazing restaurant Innio, and more)—but the runner-up team also gets to go! Thanks, Ally Coffee, and congratulations to runner-up Steamy Wonder!

Moments after team Steamy Wonder found out they lost to team Drip It Like It’s Hot, they got the awesome news that they won a trip to Budapest, too.

This was the seventh Barista League event since its founding in 2015, following previous events in Lund (Sweden), Helsingborg (Sweden), Gothenburg (Sweden), Antwerp (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland), and Oslo (Norway). The next events are scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 12–13; and in Berlin, Germany, September 23–24. Looking to the future, Steven hopes to hold Barista League events around the world.

Follow the Barista League online at the official website, and on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Coffee extremist, marketing strategist, and designer working with specialty-coffee roasteries in Oslo, Norway, since 2008, Ingri M. Johnsen is the manager of Kaffikaze and cofounder of the Mile High AeroPress Club. She placed second in the 2012 World AeroPress Championship, and is the head organizer of the Norwegian AeroPress Championship.

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