Ones to Watch

There are many amazing Champions in this year’s WBC.

We’re highlighting here a few who could be standouts (no predictions, just suggestions).

Could WBC2011 finally be the year of the female champion?

Miki Suzuki – Japan

Miki Wins in Japan

Japan has produced some stellar champions the past few WBCs, and is the only Asian nation to have ever host the WBC.  To become the Japanese champion, you must defeat hundres of other highly-skilled baristas and pour capps with samurai precision.  Miki has had time on here side –  having been crowned champion back in September 2010, she’s had nearly nine months to prepare for WBC, including a trip to Colombia earlier this year. She did a fantastic job in the Japanese champion and was a clear favorite of both the judges and the crowd.  She’s not only adorable, but also makes great coffee and emotes Japanese charisma.

watch for: swirling ice balls, Samuri precision and that adorable hair!

Lina Zea – Colombia

Lina Zea

Another of the WBC female powerhouse competitors, Lina won the Colombia title back in October 2010 in a competition officiated by several WBC head judges. Since winning, she’s been visiting farms, studying coffee, and spent time in Portland, Oregon, USA to study English and explore the Pacific NW coffee scene. Lina is intimately familiar with her coffee as it comes from a farm owned by her family. She has seen the coffee harvest to roast to extraction.

Do not discount the value of her unique home-field advantage. She knows Colombia, the conditions, and is used to the crazy effects of high altitude that could spell disaster for other competitors.

watch for: an infectious smile, great poise, and big cheers from the home crowd.

Rob Kettner – Canada

Rob at the Cupping Table

Canada has a tradition of showing well in the WBC and has landed in the top 3 positions repeatedly. Rob is a roaster first and foremost, and his presentation at regionals and nationals showed an intimate familiarity with his coffee’s profile. He lives and works in Victoria, BC which seems to be carrying the torch for Canada’s coffee scene as of late. He’s spent the past few months traveling to origin and meeting many of the other top baristas around the world.

watch for: unmatched roast profile talk and deep connection to his coffee

Stefanos – Greece

a fresh faced Stefanos

Stefanos comes to Bogota with four other WBC competitions under his stylish Greek belt.  This is his fifth go, and last year he put Greece into the finals for the very first time (in a year where the competitor pool was deep). He won the Greek championship by a large margin and is well liked among WBC competitors and judges. He was at the Seed to Cup Challenge in Peru, and has trained with a former World Champion.

watch for: lots of speaking with the hands, excellent eye contact, lavender shirt & waistcoat, and Passions!

Pete Licata – USA

Fear the Beard!

Like Japan, the US competition produces top quality competitors and the US judges know how to choose a barista who can hang on the world stage. Pete’s presentation was impressive, having been involved with his coffee from harvest, processing, drying and roasting. He has a first-hand perspective on his coffee which is unique and original, and his coffee is grown in the USA, which is a first for the American champ.

watch for: “fear the beard” signs in the WBC audience

Matt Perger – Australia

Matt swept the Australian championships with his youthful charm and professionalism. This guy really knows how to turn it on when it matters. He’s been training hard and working side-by-side with previous Australian champions as well as the Barista Champion of Singapore.  He’s got a few tricks up his sleeve and a charm that could easily land him in the semis and finals.

watch for: swooning by female judges, wooden relief map.

Håkon Kinn – Norway

Håkon Kinn

Norway has a history of producing quality coffee, champions, and of course Passions.  Coming from one of the oldest and most developed specialty coffee drinking nations on Earth is always an advantage, and he looks smart, cute and clever and ready to land the Scando’s back in a top position where they belong.  Not since Copenhagen have we had a Scandinavian barista in the finals, so watch out. The Norske are smart, tricky and powerful.

watch for: hand-oiled wooden trays, blonde hair & Passions

AnneStein Bae – Denmark

Danish Champion

Another Scandinavian and the winningest nation in the WBC, Anne is using a beautiful fresh-crop coffee from Finca Vista Hermosa that has been expertly roasted. AnneStein works with a WBC Champion and is surrounded by talented roasters and cuppers who know how to groom champions. Plus she’s amazing.

watch for: nice details on dosing, lots of coffee story, maybe a “Pop-It-In-the-Gob”

Alexander Raus – Sweden

Alexander first time on a Finca

Alexander is another Scandie from a nation that knows how to produce strong competitors. The Swedes know love their coffee and are craftsmen with roasting.  He was one of the first to arrive in Colombia to visit some farms.  He and his team have spent several days in Bogota to find just the right milk, coffee profile, details, and of course shoes.

watch for: yellow and blue adidas

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