The World Barista Championships (WBC) give espresso professionals from all over the world a platform to showcase their skilled information and high-level expertise.
Nevertheless, so as to take action efficiently, a WBC competitor should first supply a high-quality espresso that may stand out on the worldwide stage.
The Gesha variety has lengthy been a agency alternative of many rivals, however now greater than ever, lesser-known arabica varieties and even different species are beginning to change into the territory of WBC finalists.
So, how do espresso professionals go about discovering these coffees? And what components should be taken into consideration when sourcing espresso for the WBC?
I spoke to a few WBC rivals to search out out. Learn on to study extra about what they instructed me.
You may additionally like our article on how to choose a coach for barista championships.
Which coffees are well-liked on the WBC?
It’s no shock that unique, top-scoring varieties are generally utilized in espresso competitions – particularly Gesha.
The arabica selection was first found within the Thirties in Ethiopia, but it surely wasn’t till 2004 that it took the business by storm. On the Better of Panama public sale the identical yr, a Gesha bought for a then record-breaking US $21/lb. Seventeen years on in 2021, the report worth paid on the public sale was a staggering US $2,560/lb.
On account of its status for terribly prime quality and delicate floral flavours, many espresso competitors individuals go for Gesha. Between 2011 and 2019, seven of the nine World Brewers Cup champions won using this variety. WBC rivals are additionally identified to decide on Gesha for his or her routines.
Nevertheless, over the previous few years, there was a shift away from utilizing Gesha within the WBC. As an alternative, rivals are deciding to showcase the flavours and aromas of different varieties that are equally as intriguing.
For his profitable WBC routine, Saša sourced Sudan Rume espresso from Camilo Merizalde’s Las Nubes farm in Colombia. This selection generally grows in Ethiopia and was typically utilized in blends on the time.
Saša says he particularly selected Sudan Rume for his WBC efficiency due to its distinguished sweetness and readability – permitting it to face out by itself.
Furthermore, he additionally wished to reinforce the flavours and depth of the espresso. To do that, he used the carbonic maceration process. On the time, this fermentation methodology (which was impressed by the identical method within the wine business) was nonetheless novel within the espresso sector.
Extra not too long ago, on the 2021 WBC, one other lesser-known espresso was utilized by the highest three rivals: Coffea eugenioides. This espresso is a guardian species of arabica.
One in all these rivals is Hugh Kelly. He’s a three-time Australian Barista Champion, in addition to the Coaching Supervisor and Head of R&D at ONA Espresso. Hugh positioned third within the 2021 WBC utilizing a eugenioides and liberica mix.
He says he selected eugenioides due to its “tactility and steadiness of style”.
“Initially, the standard of flavour was a lot worse than different arabica varieties I had tasted, however I felt prefer it might be improved throughout processing,” he provides.
Memorable competitors coffees
On the WBC stage, it’s important that rivals could make their espresso stand out.
Saša says he noticed the potential in eugenioides as a contest espresso when Polish competitor Wojtek Bialczak used it on the 2019 WBC.
“This espresso was very memorable as a result of it had this intense sweetness,” he tells me. “The espresso impressed me.”
Saša explains that he turned extra concerned engaged on a eugenioides espresso for regional competitions with Hugh. After deciding extra work might be performed with the espresso at farm degree, Hugh met with Julian Holguin from Finca Inmaculada in Colombia. Julian was additionally the producer of Wojtek’s espresso.
Hugh says that when he determined to make use of eugenioides for the 2021 WBC, he and Saša each labored carefully with the staff at Finca Inmaculada, in addition to in collaboration with microbiologists from Chr. Hansen in Denmark.
“Whenever you work with a espresso producer for a while, there’s a larger alternative to construct belief,” he explains.
Saša tells me that there was one clear purpose that the espresso carried out so properly, in his opinion.
“The espresso is actually candy,” he says. “Particularly within the espresso class, that is at all times one thing that judges will favour.”
How do rivals supply their espresso?
There are a variety of various methods for WBC rivals to supply their espresso. Hugh explains that some espresso professionals obtain espresso from their teaching staff.
“Many rivals are supplied with choices from a coach, mentor, or roaster,” he says. “Some rivals will then blind cup these coffees and select one.
“This may be an effective way to pick a espresso, particularly if you happen to’re not visiting farms; it lets the espresso communicate for itself,” Hugh provides.
Agnieszka Rojewska is the 2018 World Barista Champion. She additionally emphasises that sourcing espresso for the WBC is usually a staff effort.
“You have to encompass your self with a staff of people who know learn how to supply espresso and learn how to put together for competitions,” she explains. “It’s not nearly discovering espresso, it’s additionally about discovering a staff that may assist to deliver the very best out of that espresso.”
Naturally, sourcing a espresso additionally means connecting with producers to a sure diploma.
“Having somebody in your staff who has current relationships with producers may help,” Hugh tells me. “Planning to supply your espresso early is a good suggestion, reasonably than counting on producers to have already got some espresso for you.”
Saša emphasises that rivals have to discover a espresso that they resonate with.
“One of the best ways to decide on a espresso is to know what makes you excited: which international locations, profiles, and flavours do you like?” he explains. “Does the espresso should be processed otherwise to maximise specific traits that you just like about that espresso?”
Saša provides that he made the choice to go to farms to supply his espresso for the WBC.
“I made a decision to journey throughout Colombia and search for producers that I may work with,” he says. “Sudan Rume was my first alternative as a result of it’s a pure mutation of the Bourbon selection, so it’s very candy.
“It has this stunning stone fruit sweetness that jogs my memory of apricot and peach,” he provides. “Even whenever you simply grind the espresso, it smells candy.”
Nevertheless, even after discovering the fitting espresso, additional steps could also be mandatory to focus on the flavours and aromas rivals are in search of.
“[With more traditional processing methods], the Sudan Rume didn’t have sufficient flavour and depth,” says Saša. “After speaking to our head roaster, Sam Corra, we determined to introduce carbonic maceration to the producers on the farm.”
How does sourcing for the WBC affect the broader espresso sector?
Since its beginnings, the WBC has been used to showcase excellence within the espresso business – from newly found varieties and species to progressive processing strategies.
Nevertheless, traits which magnetize momentum on the WBC are inclined to then change into well-liked within the specialty espresso market extra extensively. This implies demand for extra unique coffees and processing strategies can improve.
“In the end, this isn’t the aim of the competitors,” Agnieszka tells me. “It’s speculated to be a platform to advertise the abilities and information of baristas.
“However in a bid to win, competitors started using very high-quality, expensive coffees – it turned a pattern,” she provides.
Saša, in the meantime, sees this as a optimistic factor.
“The WBC is a good platform as a result of it may form the way forward for the espresso business and push the boundaries from yr to yr,” he says. “If somebody wins with a high-scoring espresso, it proves that it has one thing particular.”
In reality, Saša believes that illustration of extra unique coffees on the WBC stage creates potential for manufacturing and processing to change into extra progressive.
“Innovation [is a good thing], so long as it provides extra worth for everybody within the espresso business,” he says. “Previous to 2015, carbonic maceration appeared inconceivable to implement as a result of it was too costly, however now it’s used extra extensively.”
What traits may we see at future WBC occasions?
With this yr’s WBC set to be held in Melbourne from 27 to 30 September 2022, what can we count on to see on the worldwide stage?
Hugh notes that changes to the competition’s qualified sponsors may affect which coffees rivals use.
“The Specialty Espresso Affiliation (SCA) moved away from single-dose grinders, like Mahlkönig’s Peak and EK43 fashions, to the on-demand-style Mythos MY75 grinder, so traits are positive to alter shifting ahead.”
Nevertheless, a single-dose funnel designed particularly for Mythos grinders will nonetheless enable WBC rivals to single-dose their coffee.
By way of sure flavour profiles, Saša thinks rivals might take a extra stripped again method to sourcing their espresso– particularly by way of processing.
“I don’t suppose rivals will use espresso that’s closely processed or fermented,” he says. “The brand new traits appear to be coffees which might be shade-grown and slow-ripened to focus on the terroir.
“The flavours are clear and refined, however on the identical time very highly effective,” he provides.
Each competitor may have their own way of sourcing their coffee, but generally speaking, close relationships with the producer you source from is key. Ultimately, these relationships equip WBC competitors to better understand their coffee, and support them to get the best out of it for their routine.
Enjoyed this? Then read our article on how to roast coffee for barista competitions.
Picture credit: Hugh Kelly, Saša Šestić, World Coffee Events
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