Victory for Sweden & Other NBC Results, Thoughts

Once again, the annual Nordic Barista Cup has concluded. Please forgive the late coverage ”we had a writer lined up but she went MIA at deadline.

The Nordic Barista Cup is an event unlike any other, and remains many peoples' favorite coffee event of the year.
The Nordic Barista Cup is an event unlike any other, and remains many peoples’ favorite coffee event of the year.

What started in 2003 as a friendly competition between baristas from Denmark and Norway celebrated its 10th anniversary this year in Oslo. In 2004 ”the first year Barista Magazine attended, when in fact, we weren’t even Barista Magazine yet, but attended in order to discuss the idea of creating our journal with industry leaders Tone Liavaag, Sonja Grant, and Tim Wendelboe ”the event blossomed to include barista teams from Finland, Iceland, and Sweden in addition to Denmark and Norway. There were some lectures, mainly from sponsor representatives, and the event was held in Iceland in an effort to move the NBC around between the five countries represented in the event.

It was pure joy that year ”coffee people coming together to have fun and celebrate each other. In 2005, the event was held in Norway, and Kenneth Olson, Barista Magazine‘s publisher, attended. This time, the structure was more firm, and there were planned lectures by some industry leaders, including Aida Batlle of El Salvador who established a need for producer involvement in this mostly European event.

As the NBC continued over the years, the emphasis on the competition part was lessened, and the NBC became much more about the presenters. Some people liked this, and others didn’t. Many of the first people to be involved with the NBC have left because they feel that sense of purity and play, as well as celebration of baristas themselves, has been lost. Others welcome the ever-more structured and lecture-focused format, which has brought some terrific minds from not only the specialty coffee industry but the culinary world together for the intimate event.

And that’s one thing that hasn’t changed: the NBC has stayed small and remained focused on the goal of attendees being few enough in numbers (150-ish) that everyone gets to know each other on a tangible level, rather than the chaotic, and random meetings trade shows and larger conferences offer. That’s good.

One thing that has changed, however, is the idea of rotating countries to host the event; now it takes place only in Copenhagen and Oslo, which is a shame as the best NBCs in my opinion were held in Gothenburg, Sweden (2007), and Reykjavik, Iceland (2009). The attendees, too, stay static; the same people attend year after year. And that’s OK ”I know some coffee people who feel it’s the best event of the year, such as Olga and Anna, owners of Double B Coffee & Tea in Moscow.

The evaluation of the 2013 event is interesting and worth a read: some say there were too many, or not substantial enough, American lecturers; others asked for more Americans, like Charles Babinski, Kyle Glanville, and Jeremy Tooker. As with any event, the results seemed spread across the board; overall, however, people continue to love the Nordic Barista Cup.

Congratulations to Team Sweden, winner of the 2013 Nordic Barista Cup!
Congratulations to Team Sweden, winner of the 2013 Nordic Barista Cup!

Now for the winner: Congratulations to Team Sweden, who won this year’s event by a hefty margin! Team Sweden members included Tobias Palm, Anna Nordström, Oskar Alvérus, and Daniela Capuano. Team Norway placed second, and Team Denmark came in third. Here’s what head judges Troels Poulsen and Tone Liavaag had to say in their summary:

The Task:
This year’s task was similar to last year’s, with a few changes to the format. There were no more signature drinks and no milk-based espresso drinks this year. Each team was in charge of their own bar station which served coffee to all the attendees who were scoring them on service, knowledge and the taste of their coffee drinks.  Each team showed high levels of knowledge about the coffee they were serving and communicated what they were tasting and how they dialed in their coffees.

The teams were asked to prepare coffee in three categories: œespresso , œmanual filter  using any brewing method they preferred, and œmachine filter  using the Wilfa Svart Presisjon brewer.

Based on the scores and comments submitted by the attendees, and by the 10 secret shoppers, the motivation for the winner of Nordic Barista Cup 2013 is as follows:

All teams showed:
–  Great attention to detail, service minded and good team spirit
– Excellent service throughout and eagerness to engage with the customers at all times
– Good coffee knowledge, serving stable brew throughout the competition
– Well explained brewing methods and accurate taste descriptions
– Professional approach to all tasks given  

The Swedish winning team showed:
Sweden won the heart and palate of the secret shoppers with a consistently balanced coffee that stood out. They experimented with flavor profiles to show the range of the coffee. Overall the best brewed coffees, with consistency throughout the whole competition. Service, quality, functionality was perfect. Excellent in conveying their knowledge, valid information about the coffees, as well as the brewing methods.

In other news, the Nordic Roaster competition also took place at the event in Oslo. Unfortunately, the scores were not correctly tallied for the first announcement of the winner. Here are the corrected results:


1 Fika Fika, Taiwan 55 19 74
2 Tim Wendelboe, Norway 47 26 73
3 Double B Coffee & Tea, Russia 24 30 54
4 Five Elephant, Germany 35 14 49
5 Double Shot, Czech Republic 27 18 45
6 Social Coffee Comp., Canada 20 16 36
6 Temperato, Norway 15 21 36
8 Amor Perfecto, Colombia 27 5 32
9 Solberg&Hansen, Norway 16 9 25
10 Manly Coffee, Japan 14 3 17


1 Amor Perfecto, Colombia 5 F10 9
2 Solberg&Hansen, Norway 9 F9 8
3 Double Shot, Czech Republic 18 F8 5
4 Double B Coffee & Tea, Russia 30 F7 1
5 Social Coffee Company, Canada 16 F6 6
6 Manly Coffee, Japan 3 F5 10
7 Fika Fika, Taiwan 19 F4 4
8 Five Elephant, Germany 14 F3 7
9 Temperato, Norway 21 F2 3
10 Tim Wendelboe, Norway 26 F1 2
Total given votes 161
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