Seoul World Coffee Leaders Forum and Café Show This Week

Seoul, the South Korean capital city, hosts two big coffee events this week: The World Coffee Leaders Forum and the Café Show

Seoul World Coffee Leaders Forum and Café Show
Last year the Café Show featured a speakers series called appropriately enough, Coffee Talk.

Tens of thousands of coffee professionals will descend on the bustling, busy, modern city of Seoul this week for the annual World Coffee Leaders Forum and the Café Show.

Seoul World Coffee Leaders Forum and Café Show
Gray skies covered the hills of Seoul last year during a tour of the city’s world-famous café scene.

The Café Show is one of the biggest in the world, regularly drawing attendance figures in the six digits. The attendees will have a chance to wander one of the largest coffee trade show floors in Asia, and also take a number of classes and seminars to improve their hands-on skills or even business plans. Additionally they can see a number of interesting and different competitions.

Seoul World Coffee Leaders Forum and Café Show
At the Pancake Epidemic, a busy café and host for last year’s latte art throwdown. It was so popular and fun we’re going to do it again this year!

There’s the Korean Barista Championship of course (and in 2017 this event will host the World Barista Championship.) But there are also more unique competitions like the Korean Team Barista Championship, World Latte Art Battle, the Master of Cupping, and a cake contest!

The Café Show runs from Nov. 12-15.

Concurrently with the Café Show is the World Coffee Leaders Forum. The list of speakers for the event, which also includes a  WCE Re:Verb event, really reads like a who’s who in specialty coffee. Some of the highlights include Sasa Sestic, the 2015 World Barista Champion; George Howell; Joseph Brodsky from Ninety Plus Coffee;  Caleb Cha, 2015 World Latte Art Champion; Brett Smith, president of Counter  Culture Coffee; Trish Rothgeb from Wrecking Ball Coffee; Michael Phillips and Stephen Vick from Blue Bottle; and many more!

Seoul World Coffee Leaders Forum and Café Show
The throwdown brackets. Want to join in the fun? Keep reading to find out how to enter!

The World Coffee Leaders Forum also boasts some fun diversions like a nighttime tour of many of the famous sights in Seoul along with opportunities for education, tasting coffee, and talking with some of the brightest minds in the industry. The event runs from Nov. 11 through Nov. 14.

Seoul World Coffee Leaders Forum and Café Show
2014 World Barista Champion, Hide Izaki, battles 2014 World Brewers Champion, Stefanos Domatiotis during the throwdown last year.

Finally, on Friday, November 13 at the Pancake Epidemic, it’s a community latte art throwdown, judged by WLAC Champ Caleb Cha, WBC Champ Sasa Sestic, and Barista Magazine’s, Kenneth R. Olson (ie. me!) and a party. Sponsored by La Marzocco, Stumptown, and Barista Magazine, the event is open to anyone and will have beer, hot dogs, coffee, and fun! If you’re in the area come by and join the coffee community. The party starts at 7pm. And if you want to compete, send an email to!

About Ken 262 Articles
Kenneth R. Olson (he/him) is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Huskies, and public libraries.