Posted in Kafevend Blog
Coffee aficionados and regular readers of the blog will be aware that last week in Rimini one of the most prestigious coffee events of the year was held. 'World of Coffee 2014' was the setting for a number of coffee themed competitions and much heralded amongst them was the World Barista Championship. With the event taking place in Italy, we wondered if it would be won by a barista from the home nation; what the Italians don't know about coffee isn't worth knowing after all. This wasn't their year after all though and instead new ground was broken with the first winner in the competition's fifteen year history to come from Asia. The coveted first prize was awarded to Hidenori Izaki of Japan.
'Hang on a bit!' we hear you exclaim, 'The blog led us to believe that having a hot drink in Japan was all about the intricacies of the Japanese tea ceremony.' Well yes, tea has played a huge role in Japanese culture and we have steered a course through much of it, from its strong links with Zen Buddhism to the aesthetic beauty of the tea garden. Nevertheless, Japanese society is nothing if not a blend of the traditional with the ultra modern and its strong presence in cutting edge technology is well supported by the world's current obsession with a high quality cup of joe. Coffee is in fact the second most popular drink there after green tea.
Hidenori Izaki, who was up against a total of 54 national barista champions, is from Maruyama Coffee. The company has a small chain of top notch coffee houses and along with Japan's other independents, has a firm hold on the market for discerning coffee lovers, despite the growing prevalence of global behemoth Starbucks. The coffee that Izaki used in his top routine was from Costa Rica and worth looking at in a little more detail because, as he was at pains to point out, his bid for the title was borne out of the partnership between himself as barista and the man responsible for growing and processing the coffee in the first place.
Competitors at this level are satisfied only with the very finest coffee and Izaki sourced his beans from the Monte Copey micromill of Enrique Navarro Jr. The mill and coffee farm are situated in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica, at an elevation of some 1900 m above sea level and have been in the family for four generations. This isn't the first time the coffee has enjoyed prize winning status and certainly doesn't look like being the last either! Izaki used Navarro's Red Bourbon and Typica varieties in the espresso, cappuccino and signature coffee rounds, wowing the judges with his knowledge and expertise, as well as the great tasting coffee!
So how did the UK fare in this ultimate test of barista panache? Considering 54 nations were represented we did brilliantly, placing in the final six. So for the coffee nerds here's the list: 6th place went to William Hernandez of El Salvador; 5th was our own nation's Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood; Craig Simon of Australia took 4th place; Chris Loukakis from Greece was 3rd; Asia was also represented in 2nd place by Hong Kong's Kapo Chiu and the man of the moment is of course Japan's Hidenori Izaki. Our congratulations to them all!