It’s barista competition season, and our friends and partners at Urnex have been busy working behind the scenes to support competition culture as it happens around the world. The cleaning products brand—family-owned and based in New York State since 1936—signed on earlier this year as major supporters of Sprudge’s international barista competition coverage in 2015. They joined the international payment experts at Square as season-long sponsors of all coverage on SprudgeLive, our sister site dedicated to barista competitions.

But this next step is huge. In the lonely prep stations and glass-polishing klatches of the barista competition scene, the concept of competitor sponsorship has long been discussed as a kind of dream or goal. It costs somewhere between a lot of money and a small fortune to compete at a high level in barista competitions; at the world level, a national victory secures a travel stipend, but coffee companies and individual competitors are on the hook for everything else, from flatware to coffee to brewing gadgets to tablecloths, and a thousand other ingredients and widgets and assorted things you’ve never thought about unless you’ve donned the armor and competed yourself.

judges urnex brand
Judges with Urnex clipboards on-hand.

That level of individual competitor sponsorship is now a reality for eight national champions, selected from around the world to be Urnex Brand Global Barista Champion Ambassadors. This is “both a product development and endorsement relationship”, according to an Urnex press release on the matter. In addition to receiving sponsorship for their competition activities, Ambassador delegates will work with Urnex product distributors in their home markets around the world, and assist in R&D and product development.

The opening group of national champions selected for the Urnex Ambassador program are:

Benjamin Put, National Champion of Canada, founder of Monogram Coffee Company.

Søren Stiller, National Champion of Denmark, founder of Great Coffee.

Charlotte Malaval, National Champion of France, SCAE certified trainer.

Lex Wenneker, National Champion of Holland, representing Headfirst Coffee Roasters of Amsterdam.

Yoshikazu Iwase, National Champion of Japan, founder of REC Coffee.

Julieta Vázquez Rivera, National Champion of Mexico, founder of Arandela Barra de Café.

Berg Wu, National Champion of Taiwan, founder of Simple Kaffa.

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, National Champion of the United Kingdom, founder of Colonna & Smalls.

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood
Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (via SprudgeLive)

In the coming weeks we’ll be profiling some of these baristas in a feature series on SprudgeLive. And starting April 9th, you’ll be able to watch these baristas compete alongside dozens of other national champions at the 2015 World Barista Championship in Seattle, Washington.

We can’t hardly wait.