NATIONAL CHAMPION OF KOREA
WBC judge Brent Fortune went to Korea for the national championship recently (read abut it in the June-July 2008 issue of Barista Magazine) and was totally blown away by Jung-Hyun, both because of his skills and because of his warm disposition. Brent said it was an honor to ghave met him and to know him, and as soon as he takes the stage, its easy t see why. Though Jung-Hyun’s nerves are bviously on edge, he ‘s prepared to give this performance his all. He’s got a full-on mixing bowl going on his prep table as he pulls his espresso, and when those shots start coming down, his Korean teammates cheer LOUDLY. They are obviously pleased. His prep for the sig drink is impressive — he’s making a custard with egg yolks and… let me get back to that. WOW look at those pretty caps — hearts on each. His sig drink is a delight, but it sends him over time. Still, a spectacular performance!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF ITALY
Giorgio begins his presentation with his cappuccinos, topped with beautiful rosettas. Hes got a terrific cheering squad of enthusiastic Italians in the audience ”very enthusiastic Italians. When he serves his espressos, he asks the sensory judges to stand up — not sure why — but they oblige. He brings out an interesting contraption that keeps his milk very cold — it looks like an ice bucket with a lid and Melitta like cone on top. He adds sugar to his espresso, then takes the very cold milk and hand foams it. His sig drink glasses are glass illy cups — very pretty. It’s interesting to note that none of the baristas have used enormous cups, as has been the case once and a while in the past. He finishes just in the nick of time, and his supporters go wild! Nice job, Giorgio!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF CROATIA
Nik was a crowd pleaser at the WBC in Tokyo last year, and hes back to try one more time. He’s a funny guy — doesn’t take himself too seriously, which has earned him a lot of friends in the barista community. He told me earlier that today is his son’s seventh birthday, and I asked him if his son would be watching the video feed of him, but he said no, his son would rather be eating birthday cake. He’s got boomin club music pumping, and he honestly seems choreographed to it as he moves into his espresso preparation. He says the feeling he gets when he drinks this espresso his heart feels big. He has these cool boxes on the judges’ table for each judge, containing everything they need (or rather, that he is required to have): sugars, spoons, etc. He also has these reservoirs under the boxes, which he fills with red water, playing on the water-into-wine theme. It’s pretty far-out. Sig drink: banana cream, espresso on top of that, then foam ladeled on top. With plenty of time to spare, Nik dons a white coat, pulls ut a cupcake with seven candles on it, lights them all, wishing his son a happy birthday. It’s a fun finish to a great performance.
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF GREECE
Stelios has style to spare as he hits the stage, with a calm energy that seems to immediately start to build.He begins preparation of his signature drink in a pan at the judges’ table with juniper berries, milk, and zest of lime and orange. He begins service with his cappuccinos and pours simply gorgeous hearts on top. I’m sitting with Asia (cover girl, Barista Mag, Feb-March 2006), and she says she saw him at the Greek Barista Championship and he was just amazing. So far, he’s showing he’s gotten even better since then.He is creating a syrup by hand — i can smell i from here and it’s good! The drink is a triple layered concoction, just beautiful. Stelios finishes at 14 minuts, 55 seconds. Bravo!
NATIONAL CHAMPION OF ZAMBIA
I couldn’t make it to the WBC in Toyko last year, but my father-in-law, Bruce, accompanied Ken and had a great time watching the competition. I bring this up because Bruce spent almost the entire time with Francis of Zambia! Francis got Bruce all up to speed on barista competitions. When Ken introduced me to Francis the other day, he immediately asked where Bruce was, and I think he was more than a little disappointed when Ken told him that I was here but that Bruce stayed home. Onward: so yes, Francis is the two-time champion of Zambia, and also our last competitor of the day. He begins his competition with some signature drink prep — he whisks some brown sugar in milk. His soundtrack is such happy, instrumental African music. The audience is totally bopping along with it. Francis is pouring his cappuccinos with confidence and excitement – he’s just a joy to watch. He’s working on a hot plate with his signature drink ingredients. Cream, anise seed, brown sugar, pear puree (i think! i couldn’t hear perfectly), and Zambian coffee are the key ingredients in Francis’ sig drink. He pours everything but the espresso in the cups, then tops with shaved chocolate. It’s a beautiful drink. Congratulations, Francis!
And that’s the end of day 2! Tomorrow (Saturday) we have 14 more champions competing for a place in the finals on Sunday. It’s been an incredible two days, and we can’t wait to see what’s up next!
Note: Ken and I had a quiet dinner with Michelle last night and then totally pooped out and went to bed. But don’t worry — we’re off to socialize today at a party hosted by Kontra Coffee and Mahlkoenig, and we’ll blog all about it!
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