The Masters of Coffee

UK WBC Awards
Photo: Glenn Watson (

It’s not the easiest of tasks to pinpoint the best coffee place in town, even if you narrow the selection down to a few exceptional cases. So, how do you choose the best barista on a world-wide scale? A panel of judges in Austria will have to do just that  in a couple of weeks’ time – at the annual World Barista Championship.

The Championship will be a part of a three-day event, the World of Coffee, organised by Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). This year’s World Barista Championship (WBC) will be taking place in Vienna, 12-15 June. Baristas from over 50 countries will be competing watched by an expected audience of over 12,000 visitors. They will each prepare four espressos, four cappucinos and four signature drinks in a 15 minute performance to music. Certified Judges from around the world will then choose 12 semi-finalists who perform best on the taste of their beverages, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill, and overall presentation; these will be narrowed down to six finalists out of which the World Barista will be selected.

Jeremy Southgate from SCAE says this is the biggest event organised by the Association so far:

“This year sees a larger Village, a ‘Business of Coffee’ conference, four world coffee competitions, trade show, great social media programme with many incentives and offers at the show. There are some very special and exclusive events planned that include ‘experiences’ through exhibitors and many give-aways.”

Cappucinos by Maxwell Colonna-Dashood
Courtesy of Glenn Watson (

“The WBC is hosted in a 1000 seater arena within the trade show but is self-contained. All competitions were created to raise the skill of baristi in the coffee sector and promote great coffee, particularly speciality coffees.”

The competition first took place in Monaco in 2000, when in was established by a group of professional baristas and hosted 12 participants. Since then, the competition moved to different locations on all continents on yearly basis. Denmark seems to be the home of the best world baristas, having claimed four out of 11 titles so far, whilst Norway and the United Kingdom are placed on a joint second with two wins each.

UKBC 2012 Winner Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood
Photo: Glenn Watson (

Before the World Championship event, each participating country elects their representative in national finals. In Vienna Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, a coffee shop owner from Bath, will be fighting to bring back the title to the UK.

The visitors to the three-day event in Vienna will also have an opportunity to have a taster of a barista life – or to commence their coffee -making career. Every year SCAE organise barista Level 1 and 2 courses as part of the Coffee Diploma Workshop Programme, which are “hugely popular”, according to Jeremy: “Demand exceeded availability last year in Maastricht. Hence the vast increase [in places] this year,” and he adds that although there are still  few spaces left, they would be filling up quickly.

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