blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday afternoon at the World Barista Championships

I just spent two hours as a "prep timer" at the WBC here in Bern, Switzerland. This means that I was reponsible for timing the competitors preparation times and giving them warnings e.g. "10 minutes remaining", "5 minutes remaining", all the way down to 30 seconds and then call time and ask them to step away from the machine after their 15 minute allotment has passed.

I timed for the Guatemalan, Hungarian, Finnish, Costa Rican, Kenyan, Danish and Russian competitors. The Kenyan competitor was particularly colorful, with her traditional Kenyan head dress, complete with strings of colorful beads hanging across her cheeks. She warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes with her sweetness and earnestness... I actually had to turn away so no one would notice my shining wet eyes. I was rooting for her, even though after her 15 minutes of prep she hadn't quite completed her grind adjustment. Her supporters yelled loudly and cheered "Go Kenya" as she competed.

The Danish competitor, Klaus, used very Scandinavian styled accessories, smooth, clean lines, natural wood, clear shining glasses, carefully rolled white napkins. His preparation was crisp and he moved like a champion. He actually reminded me of Matt Riddle's performance at the USBC.

Mate, the barista from Hungary, wore a cheery orange shirt and striped orange tie. He has only been a barista for a year! He chatted with me as he did his prep and really impressed me with his friendliness. I must admit I broke my professional barrier and whispered to him to clean his knockbox. He thanked me and promptly wiped it out. The judges look at the cleanliness of the area before the performance begins. So maybe I helped him with an extra half a point.

The Costa Rican and Guatemalan competitors didn`t speak English, so I got to practice my Spanish numbers "cinqo minutos" remaining, etc. They both had translators as did the barista from Finland.

More later! I think Danielle and I are going to dinner with Matt Riddle, the 2006 USBC Champion. I wonder if he has an advantage since so many of the judges are American?


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