The World Barista Championship (WBC) gives coffee professionals from around the world a platform to showcase their expert knowledge and high-level skills.
But to do so successfully, competitors must first source a high-quality coffee that will stand out on the world stage.
According to Colombian coffee estate La Palma & El Tucán Founder Felipe Sardi, there are many factors that need to be considered when sourcing coffee for worldwide competitions.
“The most important characteristics of a WBC worthy coffee is a coffee that is complex and outstanding, yet clean and simple enough to be easily described and admired,” says Felipe.
“Its main attributes should be sweetness, acidity, texture, and after-taste, and it must present itself to the barista and the judges in a very consistent and honest way, helping them share and enjoy a simple, yet unique flavour experience.”
To ensure its coffee is of the highest quality, the La Palma & El Tucán farm documents every step of the farming process and analyses the impact each variable may have on the final score.
“We then apply changes to improve our methods and achieve better results. We do this by using data from the past seven years of harvests and processing exercises,” Felipe says.
“Once the coffee is processed and has properly rested, our quality control team grades and cups it several times to assure that it complies with the client expectations on physical and sensory attributes. This is also a critical step in achieving great quality coffees.”
La Palma & El Tucán doesn’t limit its production to competition-only coffees, however Felipe says it’s high- quality coffees, such as its Heroes and Legendary Series, are what competitors usually select for their top competition coffees.
Jooyeon Jeon of Momos Coffee in South Korea used a Sidra coffee varietal from Felipe’s estate to win the 2019 WBC title.
“Jooyeon was impressed by the uniqueness of taste and intensity, but specially the balance between sweetness and sourness in the cup profile. I remember [she] produced one of the most incredible espressos we’ve ever tasted,” Felipe says.
“It represents an indescribable feeling of joy to see a barista share that level of respect and love for our work by choosing one of our coffees for their performance. We were honoured and grateful to be part of such an immense accomplishment.”
Felipe says La Palma & El Tucán has had the opportunity to work with some of the best coffee professionals in the world during the last few years and hopes to continue doing so in the future.
“Our goal is to achieve the best quality possible by working with
our community and protecting our ecosystems. We believe in the power of biodiversity and in working with nature to achieve great results, especially when processing specialty coffees.”
Another producer that strives to achieve championship level coffee is Inmaculada Coffee Farms.
According to Sales Director Jorge Castro, the Colombian estate ensures every part of the production process is done at the highest possible level.
“Originally, we would conduct the planting and picking, and the rest would be done at a third-party company, until we realised that we needed to make sure no detail is left behind. Since then, we decided to have all the processes under our control and management,” says Jorge.
This includes picking the cherries at their optimal state of ripeness, before hand-sorting the beans by cleaning, floating, destoning, and removing impurities.
“We then perform the fermentation, depending on its variety, in a temperature-controlled room in sealed tanks with valves. Once this is completed, we dry the beans through greenhouse bed drying with controlled air flow,” Jorge says.
“We measure each stage and keep temperatures below the range of 40°C. Coffee is then stored at optimal conditions to preserve the quality in grainpro bags while the room is kept below 40 per cent humidity, between 20 to 25°C. Every storage keep unit is cupped to assure profile and score is maintained. Finally, coffee is milled in house as natural then vacuum packed in 24-kilogram boxes to facilitate stacking and preserve quality.”
Diego Campos of Colombia, the 2021 World Barista Champion, used Inmaculada Coffee for his winning routine. Jorge says he was impressed by the complexity and intensity of its Geisha and Eugenioides flavours.
“While we support all competitors that want to use our coffees in the WBC, it was extra special with Diego since he’s Colombian and represents us as a country,” says Jorge.
Since 2021, Inmaculada has worked with four to five national barista champions every year, and Jorge says it never gets less exciting.
“We help in any way we can to ensure they excel in their presentation and uphold the superior status of Colombian coffee,” Jorge says.
“At the end of the day, Inmaculada Coffee Farms realises that there
is no right or wrong formula. We learn every day from the market, our competitors, and our friends.”
This article appears in the MICE2022 Showguide. Subscribe HERE.