July 11, 2016

4 WBC Presentation Themes Loved by a WB Champion Trainer


It’s easy to forget that the World Barista Championship isn’t just about the coffee, but it’s true. The competitors also need to give a winning presentation and demonstrate excellent service with flair.

We spoke to Federico Bolanos, the trainer of no less than seven El Salvador Barista Champions between 2008 and 2014, including the 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez, two finalists (2013 and 2014), and three semi-finalists (2009, 2010, and 2012). He also happens to be the Director of Coffee for Cafe Tuxpal, Head of Education for Viva Espresso, a certified Q-Grader, and a SCAE Authorised Trainer.

In short, if anyone knows what makes a good presentation, it’s him. And he was kind enough to tell us his four favourites from the 2016 World Barista Championship.

SEE ALSO: 5 Winning World Barista Championship Performances

Federico Bolanos with all the trophies he’s helped Salvadorans to win.

1. Lex Wenneker, Netherlands

“I have always believed that, in competition, form is as important as substance,” Federico said. “Lex’s performance embodied exactly this: it was thought-provoking, conceptually innovative, and full of substance. By focusing his presentation on varietals instead of processes or estates, Lex shifted the prevailing mindset. He also elevated the experience by proposing a classy serving style inspired by the wine industry. Lex has the potential to become a world champion in the future.”

The theme: Wine/varietals
The coffee: Sudan Rune (espresso), Geisha (milk-based drink), and a Pacamara (signature drink) – all natural processed and from Los Margaritas farm in Colombia
The signature drink: Espresso combined with carrot, elderflower, muscat grape, and pomegranate syrup
Lex’s workplace: Espresso Service West
Other details: Urnex Ambassador

2. Hugh Kelly, Australia

“I was also highly impressed by Hugh Kelly’s performance, but surprisingly he didn’t make it to the finals,” Federico said. “I especially loved the perspective of his presentation’s concept: choosing a high-production yield coffee instead of an exotic low-yielding varietal. Moving away from a favorite, sure-to-be-popular coffee requires courage, passion, knowledge, and skill. I respect this and I think it speaks volumes of a world-class barista like Hugh. On stage Hugh seemed joyful and looked engaging, in control, very composed, and fluid. He most importantly demonstrated he has the presence of a champion.”

The theme: (Extra)ordinary potential
The coffee: Castillo from El Mirador, Colombia
The signature drink: Freeze-dried peaches, freeze-concentrated blackcurrants (to increase the sugar level), coconut sugar, and chilled espresso shot blended and further chilled with ice rocks
Hugh’s workplace: Ona Coffee
Other details: Trained by 2015 WBC Sasa Sestic

3. Charlotte Malaval, France

“Her presentation was fun, easy to follow, visually rich, and included elements of surprise to demonstrate that things are not always what they seem – especially when it comes to coffee and excellence,” Federico said. “Charlotte is definitely one of the most talented baristas on the planet… she has the skills, knowledge, experience and flair needed to reach the top.”

The theme: Expectations and surprises
The coffee: Fully washed Red Bourbon from Finca San Roberto, El Salvador
The signature drink: A strawberry and basil reduction with a brown sugar syrup that was infused with cinnamon, cooled over ice with her espressos – all to bring out her coffee’s cherry notes
Charlotte’s workplace: Ditta Artigianale
Other details: Urnex Ambassador

4. Ben Put, Canada

“Ben Put, the barista champion of Canada, came back to the world stage strong, with lots of enthusiasm and more experience,” said Federico. “Ben presented his coffee on the concept of risk, with the argument that sometimes, by taking risks with coffee, we can create entirely new sensory experiences. I thought this was a great angle because it holds so much truth. Consistent with this concept, he dared to brew espresso in a completely a new way, which – considering the the competition’s scoring system – is in all ways a risk. I’m a huge advocate of taking big risks because they often bring big rewards.”

The theme: Risks
The coffee: Semeon Abay from Ninety Plus
The signature drink: He ran his espresso through a metal AeroPress filter, and added Granadillo juice, apricot compote, and a malic acid solution – risky indeed.
Ben’s workplace: Monogram Coffee
Other details: Urnex Ambassador

Thanks to Federico Bolanos for the interview. Follow him on Instagram here.

Feature photo credit: Jake Olson for World Coffee Events

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