MBC 2015 Lead-up : The History of the World Barista Championship


The Malaysian Barista Championship (MBC) 2015 will be held on the 23-25th January 2015 at Chin Woo Stadium, KL. 16 Baristas from different Malaysian cafes have been shortlisted to compete. Facebook event here.

Our Champion will then go on to the World Barista Championship in Seattle to represent us Malaysians vs 50+ other national barista champions competing to be World Barista Champion of the year.

In this post, we will give a quick breakdown of the competition format and a brief introduction of the history of the World Barista Championship (WBC).


 

A mock demonstation of a Competition. Baristas will introduce the coffees being used while producing four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks that are marked for creativity and go well with their overall presentation.

A mock demonstation of a Barista Competition. Baristas will introduce the coffees being used while producing four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks, that are marked for creativity and go well with their overall presentation.

The Competition Format

The format of the competition is very simple. The baristas will have to make 12 drinks (4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos and 4 signature drinks) in 15 minutes as professionally as possible while presenting about the coffee used and drinks to the judges. The first round will see all 16 compete on Saturday (24th) and the final six in the final round on Sunday, the 25th of January. Each day, the competition will start at 10am.

A Brief History of the World Barista Championship (WBC)

The WBC first started in 2000 and is held every year. It started with the intent of promoting being a barista as a career and eventually, evolved to one finding an ambassador for specialty coffee¹ around the world.

In the earlier years, it was dominated by Northern Europe, the birthplace of espresso-based coffees. One notable champion is 2007’s James Hoffman, who is a major influence in the specialty coffee world (also, writer of the World Atlas of Coffee). Held in Japan, it was the first year that the championship took place on an Asian stage. In 2011 and 2012, baristas from coffee producing countries won it for the first time, a big deal then as ironically, these countries do not have a thriving specialty coffee industry themselves. In 2013, it was held in Australia, also known as the ‘specialty coffee’ capital of the world.

Japan's Hidenori Izaki (Maruyama Coffee) doing his routine during the 2014 WBC at Rimini, Italy. Pic used with permission of WCE. (Christina Solomon Photography)

Japan’s Hidenori Izaki (Maruyama Coffee) doing his routine during the 2014 WBC at Rimini, Italy. Pic used with permission of WCE. (Christina Solomon Photography)

Last year was a big win for Asia. Japan’s Hidenori Izaki of Maruyama Coffee was crowned World Barista Champion of 2014 and 1st runner up went to Hong Kong’s Kapo Chiu of The Cupping Room.

Kapo Chiu of HK (Cupping Room) at Rimini, Italy. Pic used with WCE's permission (Christina Solomon Photography)

Kapo Chiu of HK (Cupping Room) at Rimini, Italy. Pic used with WCE’s permission (Christina Solomon Photography)

These barista champions go on to start their own coffee companies or further their careers as barista trainers, coaches for other barista champions, coffee consultancies or even, coffee roasting/sourcing.

If you notice, before 2007, online footage of the competition is hard to come by. After 2008, footage of the competition is more widely available as videos of the competition went online following the rise of Youtube. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why specialty coffee started booming around the globe then, as people could access and learn from these videos.

On the machines sponsor front, there was a change from La Marzocco to Nuovo Simonelli from 2009 onwards. This year we see a change in the machine being used at the competition to the Victoria Arduino VA388 Black Eagle.

Over the years, the rules have also changed to an emphasis more on the sensory and presentation skills of the barista in line with the ethos of searching for an ambassador for the world of Specialty Coffee.

This year's top 16.

See your favourite barista? This year’s top 16 Malaysian Barista Champion Finalists. Who will go on to represent Malaysia in Seattle this March at the World Barista Championship 2015? (WBC 2015)

First Time for Malaysia

For the first time, we are sending our barista champion to Seattle to compete for the World Barista Championship 2015. It’s a big deal as it’s a chance for Malaysia to be on the map of specialty coffee. Competitions like this is also an opportunity for baristas, roasters and industry players to put a united front and their best foot forward for better coffee in Malaysia. Along the way, skills, confidence, and discoveries will be found, advancing a better customer experience in cafes. (fingers crossed!)

Also, volunteers are needed for this event; All passionate coffee enthusiasts are welcomed. More info here. (update 6/1 – The deadline for volunteers has closed.)

So, head on down to Chin Woo Stadium end of this month and catch the battle among Malaysian baristas to represent us on the world stage. We will try to introduce the 16 competitors over this blog in the coming weeks!

10849776_746535848768329_4275889232870877073_n

List of Past Malaysian Champions

2014 – Jason Loo ( Defacto winner as no competition was held)
2013 – Jason Loo
2012 – JH Yee
2011 – N/A
2010 – Cheryl Lee
2009 – N/A
2008 – Cheryl Lee

(Barista Championships are a relatively new thing in this young industry in Malaysia. So, in the past, competitions have been held on and off, explaining the gap between the years.)

Big thanks to Leonard aka Caffeinetizen for the pictures in this piece. This piece is also based on notes at a talk given by Mr. Joon Hong Lee, the Korean Barista Champion 2015. All the best to him and the competitors for MBC2015!

Update 21/1/2015 – Pictures of Hidenori and Kapo Chiu added.

 

Footnotes:

(1) What is Specialty Coffee – Specialty coffee is where extreme care goes into every step of production. Coffee cherries are picked when they are the ripest, grown carefully to give them the best flavours before being picked and processed. Once processed, they are selected by a roaster who then brings out the best interpretation of the beans with her/his roasting. The final step is the barista who makes the best possible cup of coffee with these carefully grown and roasted beans before him. 

More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specialty_coffee

 

(2) List of past WBC winners:
2014 (Rimini, Italy) Hidenori Izaki, Japan
2013 (Melbourne, Australia) Pete Licata, United States
2012 (Vienna, Austria) Raúl Rodas, Guatemala
2011 (Bogota, Colombia) Alejandro Mendez, El Salvador
2010 (London, England) Michael Phillips, United States
2009 (Atlanta, United States) Gwilym Davies, United Kingdom
2008 (Copenhagen, Denmark) Stephen Morrissey, Ireland
2007 (Tokyo, Japan) James Hoffmann, United Kingdom
2006 (Bern, Switzerland) Klaus Thomsen, Denmark
2005 (Seattle, United States) Trouls Overdahl Poulsen, Denmark
2004 (Trieste, Italy) Tim Wendelboe, Norway
2003 (Boston, United States) Paul Bassett, Australia
2002 (Oslo, Norway) Fritz Storm, Denmark
2001 (Miami, United States) Martin Hildebrandt, Denmark
2000 (Monte Carlo, Monaco) Robert Thoresen, Norway

Source: Past winners of WBC – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Barista_Championship