Berg Wu of Simple Kaffa in Taiwan has won the 2016 World Barista Championship in Dublin, Ireland. Wu becomes the 17th coffee professional to earn this title, in an international tournament held each year since 2000.
Berg Wu competed at the event using a Geisha variety coffee grown at Finca Deborah, a coffee farm located in the Volcan region of Panama. The farm, owned and operated by fourth generation Panamanian Leslie H. Freitag, is located at 1900 meters above sea level and specializes in Geisha variety coffee, a rare and revered coffee type. This remote farm uses solar power for all practices and is located within Panama's Chiriquí Province.
The World Barista Championship structure asks competitors to present three distinct courses exemplifying their chose coffees: an espresso course, a milk course, and a signature beverage containing coffee and other carefully curated ingredients. As an espresso, Berg Wu's coffee yielded notes of white flowers, oranges and jasmine—that final floral note being one of the iconic characteristics of Geisha coffee. For his milk course, Berg Wu took full advantage of a recent rule change, serving just 0.3cm of microfoamed milk so as to not overwhelm his coffee's delicate flavors.
Last but not least, Berg Wu presented his judges with a signature drink that made use of an orange and honey reduction, Earl Grey tea and espresso. Berg Wu then added mandarin essential oil, and used an aromatizer to infuse that oil into the rest of his drink's ingredients. Complex? Yes, but compared to some of the wild and weird sig drinks we saw this year at the World Barista Championship—chemistry sets! rotary evaporators! transmogrifiers!—it was a fairly conservative approach to the last and all-important course.
This is the first World Barista Championship win for the nation of Taiwan, last seen atop the world stage winning the 2014 Cup Tasters Championship in Melbourne. Berg Wu will reign the specialty coffee cosmos for a full year and 5 months, as the world waits for the 2017 World Barista Championship event, happening November 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. Until then, a hearty cheers for Berg Wu, your new World Barista Champion.
Visit SprudgeLive.com—the worldwide leader in coffee sports—for complete coverage of the 2016 World Barista Championship from Dublin.