And just like that, we’re back into the international specialty coffee season’s championship schedule. As you may or may not know, several dozen countries around the world hold national specialty coffee competitions each year, beginning roughly around now, and going on globally for the next 6 months or so, finishing off around the time of the 2014 United States Barista Championship in Seattle. Winners from a mock United Nations of countries are then assembled at the World Barista Championship, specialty coffee’s grand battle royale, which is being held this year in Rimini, Italy.

It’s a great big bloody World Cup sized global tournament of world class baristas, and if you want to learn a bit more about the format and spirit of these events, you can read much more about specialty coffee competitions here, here, and here, although we are most partial to the explanation offered here.

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Last weekend Kapo Chiu from The Cupping Room successfully defended his title from last season at the Hong Kong Barista Championship. Mr. Chiu competed and won using coffee from the Idido Cooperative in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, roasted by Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, North Carolina. This is Kapo Chiu’s second consecutive win at the HKBC, and now he plays the waiting game, while preparing to represent his country next year in Rimini.


Kapo Chiu passed along these notes on his routine:

I start by talking about the origin flavor of Idido being a combination of variety, processing and micro-climate. I talked about my responsibility as a barista is to represent the identity of the coffee and reflect the origin flavors in the cup. In my routine, I used 3 different roast/brew strength to represent different aspects of Idido.
  • Most developed roast + High Strength = Cappuccino >>> Increase body and sweetness
  • Espresso roast + Medium strength = Espresso >>> Optimize origin character
  • Filter roast (espresso) + Most developed roast (Chilled shot) + Grapefruit juice = Signature drink >>> Maximize origin character (Filter roast=maximum origin character; most developed roast = body; grapefruit = highlight citric character of Idido)

You’ll notice Kapo Chiu competing here using the much-buzzed about Mahlkonig EK-43 grinder, whose intricacies he was instructed in by Ben Kaminsky and Matt Perger at their recent “Espresso Masterclass” in Melbourne. Mr. Chiu tells us, “I chose EK because (1) it allows me to use 1 grinder for 3 coffees in my routine, (2) allows me to roast lighter to preserve more origin character since I can extract higher to get more sweetness to balance the acidity from the light roast.” He credits Mr. Kaminsky and Mr. Perger’s class on the EK-43 as “an inspiration to rethink how we roast/extract espresso to express the most origin character.”

Kapo Chiu’s cafe, The Cupping Room, was featured last July in the 2013 edition of Build-Outs Of Summer, our globe spanning look inside the next wave of ambitious new cafes around the world.

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