Hidenori Izaki of Maruyama Coffee in Nagano, Japan has won the 2014 World Barista Championship in Rimini, Italy. This is the first-ever win for Maruyama Coffee Company, a small cafe chain and roasting company known around the world for their buying of top auction lots of coffee, especially Cup Of Excellence coffees. Maruyama is one of the most dominant competition houses in the world right now, having won the Japanese barista championship for the last 5 years, including wins in 2009 for Mie Nakahara, 2010 and 2011 for Miki Suzuki, and consecutive wins for the last two years for Mr. Izaki.
This is the first win for a Japanese competitor on the World Barista Championship stage, and also the first win for a barista competitor from Asia.
Mr. Izaki competed and won at the WBC using two distinct varieties of coffee–red caturra and typica–both grown in Costa Rica and processed at the Monte Copey micromill by Enrique Navarro Jr. This is one of the highest elevation mills in all of Costa Rica, located at between 1800-1900 meters above sea level near the town of Santa Maria de Dota, in the Tarrazu region. This is one of Costa Rica's famed progressive micromills, processing cherry from farms such as La Bandera Calle Copey, Halcon, Cascada and Encino, and experimenting with a wide variety of processing methods, including honey process and natural process, which Mr. Izaki employed in this World Barista Championship presentation.
Together Mr. Navarro Jr. and Mr. Izaki forged a partnership in pursuit of fine coffee that spanned borders, oceans, and languages, resulting in the coffees served on the world stage. Hidneori took great care to explain the nature of this relationship as a true partnership. There was no “I” or “me” in the way Mr. Izaki discussed his coffee, but always a sense of “we”; the experience of working at origin was clearly of great meaning to Izaki, and a humbling opportunity for him to learn.
Hidenori Izaki served a “honey processed” typica for his espresso course, and a natural red caturra coffee for his cappuccino course. His signature drink fused together these two distinct coffees, pairing them with apple syrup, and peach nectar. These elements were placed in distinctive rounded cocktail glasses over sphered ice, which Mr. Izaki then deftly cooled and aerated before serving to his panel of judges. A key technical element in his routine was his use of dual Nuova Simonelli Mythos One grinders; Maruyama Coffee is closely partnered with Nuova Simonelli.
The winning routine at the 2014 World Barista Championship closed with a dose of genuine humility on the part of Mr. Izaki. “His passion for producing coffee is the same as my passion for serving the best espresso to my customers,” Hidenori Izaki told the crowd, speaking about his coffee producer. “I hope you enjoy our coffee. It could not be produced without the two of us.” Let's consider it a victory for them both, as well.
Original photography by Eileen P. Kenny for Sprudge.com
Sprudge.com Assistant Editor Alex Bernson contributed to this reporting.