Yet another red-eye flight was on the agenda to get to the World Barista Championship (WBC) in Amsterdam.
The WBC or World Barista Championships is the sparkling gem in the crown of the coffee calendar.
There are two aspects to the W.B.C.; firstly, 55 competitors from all over the world represent their countries during the four-day competition event and secondly, an exhibition of all the latest developments and innovations is displayed by the global industry leaders of equipment, green coffee, and technology.
The event is run by World Coffee Events or WCE ( www.worldcoffeeevents.org) and their mission is to develop events that engage the specialty coffee community and promote coffee excellence. The current platform involves competition such as the World Barista Championships, the World Tasters Cup Championships, the World Latte Art Championships and many others.
These competitions are the pinnacle of our industry, they give the competitors the opportunity to carve out future careers within the industry as well as showing off where they think the future direction of coffee is going to on a global stage.
Attending an event like this gives me the opportunity to meet up with suppliers I work with all in one place, to see new innovations in all areas of our business from packaging to equipment, meet with green coffee brokers, roasting equipment suppliers and to taste coffee from fellow roasters from all over the world.
Taking time to walk around the exhibition hall is always something of an adventure, you need to find your baring’s, once I have scrolled through exhibition guide, I plan my route for the day. When you attend large exhibitions that are more like small villages you need a plan of attack or time will just disappear. As you walk around normally you bump into some familiar faces and colleagues of old, the route than naturally works itself out, you tend to get what you had planned to do, but in a not so conventional way.
As a business owner attending events like these are important, I get to see where the coffee industry is moving too, anticipating new trends that will surface from one country to another and potentially use what we have seen to help our customers grown their business.
For Bell Lane Coffee we need to keep in mind that we are one of an ever-growing coffee roaster community in Ireland, supplying coffee to cafes, bars, hotels and food service providers. We need to keep on top of global movements, making sure we have insights into the latest technology, cultural influences that give us relevance in today’s coffee roastery supply chain market. Expecting to gain market share with just good coffee is not going to win you new business. You need to offer support to your customers that is more informative than tactile, but information that gives them advantages over their competitors. This support might just be temporary, but it shows that we as a business are relevant in the coffee roastery space. We can learn so much from spending 24 hours in another country at specialty events like the WBC.
Taking time out to rest my feet I always try to watch the World Barista Championships, this display of barista skills is something to be in awe of, the level of accuracy that these baristas require to deliver their routine in a 15-minute period is captivating. Watching coffee professionals deliver their espresso course of 4 drinks, cappuccino course of 4 drinks and the signature drink routine in perfect timing to music, with a script that just flows is infectious.
Gathering our thoughts after a long day of talking and the occasional coffee, we tend to follow up on invitations we received throughout the day, Completing our day’s activities normal crescendo with dinner and drinks with colleagues. After much laughter and fully tummy’s we make our way back to our cramped hotel room in the early hours. Trying to get as much sleep in before the early ring of my phone alarm clock to start the next day to catch yet another early flight home is the norm.
People who are not used to traveling for business, think that business travel is something of a Luxury. On the mere occasions that you get a trip to an exotic foreign country, it can be, but when we talk about travel in the coffee industry, it’s normally not so glamorous, from exhibition centers in the middle of the busy city to cramped hotel rooms. This is not the glamorous side of travel you see in the magazines, it a necessity to keep our creative juice flowing and ahead of the curve with the coffee competition.