For three days in mid-June, the World of Coffee Budapest 2017 filled and fueled the Hungexpo fair center. Coffeemeisters and coffeelings from around the world united, celebrating the drink in ways old and new, traditional and millennial, literal and sartorial. Here are 10 of my very favorite highlights from a memorable event.
Starsky & Hutch
You may recognize the Loveramics Egg as the official cup of the World Latte Art Championship, though this year marked the brand’s first on the expo floor. Debuted was the brand's new Starsky & Hutch series, evoking a “mid-century design” and “American diner-style,” according to sales manager Jenny Cheung. Like their eponymous plainclothes detectives, the cups appear pretty ordinary, albeit colorful and with a body “so thick and strong,” as per Cheung, they can take on high-pressure situations (like direct AeroPressing, microwaves, dishwashers, and who knows, perhaps bashing an escaping crook over the head).
“Your caw, caw, caw-ffee can still be good!” Etzinger’s crow logo seemed to be calling. The Liechtenstein-based burr manufacturer (say that three times fast) premiered a prototype of its on-demand grinder designed specifically with short-staffed restaurants in mind. “We wanted to reduce it all to the essentials and make it as small as possible, as simple as possible, so even if you’re not a barista you can get a good shot,” said Andrea Schoech, who works for the company and is married to its founder, Christian Etzinger (also the engineer behind Baratza’s Sette burr technology). Expect the etzMAX—with its 32-millimeter conical burrs, digital control panel, and removable 1000-gram hopper—to be available by yearend.
No need to clutch your pearls: that pristine white Giesen W1 was not vandalized. The graffito is part of recent rebranding by Black Sheep, one of at least 16 Hungarian micro-roasters represented at the World of Coffee. Black Sheep senior roaster Gábor Tóth explained that his Debrecen-based business recently updated its “old-fashioned” logo to coincide with the opening of a second cafe and roastery. The venue will house the little lamb of a Giesen along with a similarly customized black W15, helping fulfill a corporate mission to provide “a bridge between the new wave of fruity coffees and the classic, darker roasts.”
New Zealand’s Nara Lee may not have won the 2017 World Brewers Cup—that honor went to Chad Wang of Taiwan—but the contestant still wore a fitting crown. Off the competition floor, her copper dripper-turned-cocktail hat glistened in the Hungarian sun.
If Punky Brewster bought a kettle, surely it would be this rainbow Brewista Artisan. The limited-edition 600-milliliter gooseneck brewer with variable temperature is already available in most of Asia and will follow in August for Europe and the US. Other new hues include rose gold, flash black, and pearl white. And speaking of pale pleasures, Brewista’s potentially game-changing NutraMilk nut milk machine will be launched in October, said Carolyn Chen, marketing director at parent company Smartco.
Comandante’s C40 Ironheart first showed off its silvery tattooed cylinder this past spring in Seattle. But in Budapest, the Munich manufacturers started selling their handmade manual grinder with a carbon steel burr set. It is ideal for fine-grinding Turkish coffee (while leaving Comandante’s C40 nitro blade for espresso). As company co-founder Raphael Braune noted: “Carbon steel has a 66 Rockwell hardness, so that’s basically like a Japanese sword.”
Ethiopian Women in Coffee
In a separate building, out of earshot from competition roars and arena anthem interludes, the World of Coffee gave space to slower-paced, more intimate gatherings. In this spirit, 10 representatives of the Ethiopian Women in Coffee association held two cuppings of 28 washed and natural coffees. The event was sponsored by SheTrades, an initiative “providing market competitiveness training and services to benefit women in coffee,” as host Andrew Hetzel of Coffee Strategies put it. I personally attended this event, a highlight within my list of highlights from the show—if you get a chance to check out this programming at upcoming coffee events worldwide, do it.
Uri Wollner’s main job is running Cophi cafe in Warsaw, but his side-hosiery-hustle gained some traction in Budapest. “You get up in the morning, put your feet down, you see this,” he said of the coffeehouse quips and barista flair stitched onto his Coffee Socks. “Start the day positive and remember what you’re here to do, which is spreading love.” Your opinion on a barista’s goodwill ambassador role notwithstanding, you can design your own socks and order 100 to be produced on a six-yarn “old-school machine” in Lodz, Poland’s historical textile town, where Wollner has family roots.
BOB Coffee Lab
The BOB Coffee Lab stand presaged the same-named cafe and roastery due to open this summer in Bucharest. Behind it are Romanian triple Coffee in Good Spirits champion Paul Ungureanu, 2016 World Coffee Roasting champion Alexandru Niculae, and two other co-founders. But what about Bob, you ask? “Bob is a man who one day woke up as a dog,” offered Ungureanu, referring to their corporate mascot: a Kafka-reading shaggy canine. Meanwhile, said Niculae: “‘Bob’ in Romanian means ‘bean,’ like a coffee bean… But it can be anything. You could be Bob if you wanted to.”
These Pac-Man screen-patterned trousers were worn by multi-title-holding coffee champ Davide Berti as he judged the Cezve/Ibrik Championship. Perhaps they got the famously fashion-forward Berti (cf. Sprudge Sunday Magazine’s Edizione Italiana) in a gaming spirit. Regardless, Pac-Man was an apt sartorial metaphor for the World of Coffee, which can leave a visitor feeling like a mouth-led head consuming its way through a life-strengthening maze and occasionally reaching that especially fruity bonus.
Karina Hof is a Sprudge staff writer based in Amsterdam. Read more Karina Hof on Sprudge.