As we turn the page on October, I can’t help but reminded of a brief period early on in the pandemic where coffee competitions weren’t getting outright cancelled, but with all hope and optimism being postponed to later on the in the year. Those postponements of course were all later cancelled after a variety of non-uniform and generally dreadful responses to COVID-19 allowed it to linger well past its welcome. Right now, for instance, I could be enjoying a lovely spring day in Melbourne, gearing up for the start of the World Barista Championship.
I’m missing in-person coffee competitions is what I’m trying to get at here. (It would also be nice to be in a country that only had seven new cases today, but if they want to keep those numbers low, Australia would be wise to not let me, an American, within their borders.) If you’re like me and have an itch that that only the thrill of a world competition stage can scratch, the Specialty Coffee Association may have just the thing to tide you over with their newly released World Coffee Championships Podcast! Published weekly, the WCC Podcast will take listeners behind the scenes of coffee competition’s biggest stage.
Over the course of six episodes in as many weeks, the WCC Podcast will be “exploring the history, impact, and evolution of the competitions through interviews with members of the large network of volunteers who make the annual events possible,” per an SCA press release. To tell the story of the World Coffee Championships, podcast producer and creator of Filter Stories James Harper will be joined by a rotating list of WCC veterans and experts, including Sara Al-Ali, Rie Moustakis, Anna Oleksak, Roukiat Delrue, Kimberly Yer, Sonja Bjork Grant, and Gloria Pedroza. Together, Harper and co-hosts will “[bring] to light some of the hidden stories woven in and around these annual skill-based competitions” and will include a total of 27 interviews with members of the specialty coffee competition community.
“The World Coffee Championships have been around for nearly 20 years, engaging thousands of coffee professionals and enthusiasts worldwide every year in local and international events–and it’s these people, and their stories, that make these competitions so interesting and exciting to be a part of, year after year,” said SCA Editor Jenn Rugolo. “This project was long in the making before COVID-19 arrived and canceled this year’s events, so it feels particularly special to be able to share this with our community around the time we’d otherwise be getting ready to gather in Melbourne. We hope you have as much fun listening to this collection of stories as we had researching and creating it.”
And the first episode is out now! Featuring co-host and 2006 World Cup Tasters Champion Gloria Pedroza, “It’s a YES!!” looks back at “the history and evolution of the World Cup Tasters Championship through stories about rule-breakers, phone calls home mid-competition, and backstage ballet,” including interviews with Alf Kramer, Kim Staalman, José Joaquín Ordoñez, and Chloe King. Episode Two is slated to come out later this week.