You think we’re excited about this year’s USBC cycle? Well, we’re positively BESIDE ourselves with vim and vigor for the upcoming WBC event in Vienna, Austria. So we said to ourselves, we said, “Hey, how about we go and check out all the national champs by utilizing Earth’s great digital equalizer, Facebook!” Armed with an ever-evolving list of champs from across the globe, we dug deep into the profile and peccadillos of some of this year’s incredible cast of WBC characters – we’ll be featuring lots more as it gets closer to Vienna time. Come stalk with us!

First up, the bull from Buenos, the best from Puerto Blest, meet Agustin Quiroga from Argentina! According to Facebook, Mr. Quiroga likes Cafe Puerto BlestWorld Barista ChampionshipBrian Wogan Coffee BristolVIVA ESPRESSONacho Uranga PhotographyCafé Au Lait®Tecnochef, and Hoshide Farms. Who doesn’t?

Next meet the barista champion Finland,  Joona Suominen. Mr. Suominen hails out of Cafe Art,  a quite-nice sounding cafe the city of Turku – check out this English-language write-up of his shop here, via Nordic Coffee Culture. Joona likes South Park, Breaking Bad, and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. When Joona isn’t drinking coffee, you might find him enjoying a fine single malt whisky.

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Third from the right is Merlin Raj, this year’s barista champion of India! According to our crack team of Facebook savvy  interns, Merlin enjoys Mumbai, Maharashtra, IndiaChhatrapati Shivaji TerminusChocolate Cake :)ZoominAamchi Mumbai / मुंबई / BombayMUMBAIMumbaiBandra Worli Sea Link, and St. Mira’s College for girls. We look forward to rooting for The Raj at this year’s WBC event in Vienna!

Say hello to your Italian barista champion, Elisa Molle! Her motto is “Io non mi siedo lì…. io voglio vivere “sopra”… io voglio vivere una volta sola!” which roughly translates to “I don’t sit on my ass, I’m up  and I only live once!” Elisa hails from the city of Frosinone, a landlocked little town about 75k south of Rome, where she is the owner-operator of a place called “L´Angolo Del Caffé”. She is the first-ever female barista champion of Italy! Learn more about Elisa Molle by reading this excellent English-language press release from SIGEP.

And here’s your barista champion from Costa Rica, Mr. Ricardo Azofeifa! Ricardo works at icafe and is totally into Asociación de Cafés Finos de Costa RicaDoka Estate Gourmet Coffee,Cafe Pura VidaCampeonato de Baristas Costa RicaCoffee BarcelonaKaffe Kultur, Lo más dulce de Costa RicaCirculo de Barista de Costa Rica, and Ariel Latam.

It’s Olga! Olga Melik-Karakozova is a Russian barista icon, and this year is her fourth time serving as the Russian barista champion. She works for Koffein, where she is QC director for multiple shops in Moscow. We hung out with Olga last year in Moscow – check out this sweet feature we did on her here. According to Facebook, Olga likes Square Mile Coffee Roasters, Vienna School of Coffee, the World Barista Championship, Café de El SalvadorBarista Exchange, Daterra CoffeeHacienda La Esmeralda, Kaffismiðja ÍslandsUDC – Upside Down Cake Company MoscowCoffee Chemistry, and Tim Wendelboe Kaffe.

Colin Harmon is your 2012 Irish Barista Champion! Cool Hunting recently interviewed him:

While he was working on opening 3FE, Harmon turned down numerous offers in other European cities in favor of staying in his beloved hometown. This emotional decision propelled him into becoming a leader in the burgeoning community of food makers and entrepreneurs in Dublin.

We recently talked to Harmon about his coffee journey while driving around Dublin in the 3FE delivery vehicle, gleaning insight on the 3FE company and his goals to be an ambassador for the city he loves.

Hello, Lithuania! This is Mindaugas Ryškus of King Coffee Service Lietuva. According to Facebook, Mr. Ryškus likes to rollerblade.

El Tigre! Hailing out of Guatemala City, Guatemala, Raul Rodas makes yet-another WBC challenge in 2012, competing for Paradigma Coffee Roasters. He likes Skittles,  Square Mile Coffee RoastersThe Barista WayRoasters GuildSpecialty Coffee Association of America, Intelligentsia TeaSpecialty Coffee Association of Panama, and FarmVille. Mr. Rodas Prefiero Coca Cola que Pepsi,

Finnbogi Fannar Kjeld is your 2012 Icelandic Barista Champion! Finnbogi works at Kaffitár – “the one by the skyscraper, in what would have been the financial district.” Seriously, talking to a Reykjaviking for 5 minutes makes us really sincerely want to go there. Mr. Kjeld lives in the 101, up the hill a ways, right near our friends at Kaffismidja Islands.

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