Welcome to Semi-Finals Saturday at the 2013 World Barista Championship. 12 baristas from around the world, representing the very highest level of their craft on the world’s biggest coffee stage…it was a dramatic and exhilarating day, and an absolute pleasure for us to cover as Official Media Partners of World Coffee Events, the agency that produces these and other specialty coffee competitions worldwide.

One of these 12 would go on to win – Pete Licata of the United States – but back on Saturday we didn’t know that yet; we still had the pleasure of mystery, and were dazzled by the dizzying and diverse range exhibiting a range of competition styles that careened from conversational and intimate to theatrical and showstopping. All 12 submitted themselves to the demanding criteria of a professionally calibrated set of international judges, and all 12 handled that pleasure with world class showmanship.

This feature is a synthesis of our live Twitter coverage throughout the day’s routines, with original photography by Eileen P. Kenny for Sprudge.com. By the end of Saturday just 6 of these Semi-Finalists would advance, but for now, let’s look back at the Round of 12.

Sprudge.com’s coverage of the 2013 World Barista Championship is made possible by Nuova Simonelli and St. Ali.


1. Pete Licata, Parisi Coffee, USA

10:17 Mr. Licata competes using coffee from producer Arnulfo Leguizamo, a progressive coffee grower in Huila, Colombia. coffees from his farm, Finca La Primavera, are sourced by Cafe Imports. We’ve got a full detailed account in Mr. Licata’s coffee in this feature right here.

10:19 “vanilla aromatic, red grape-like acidity, a rich, date-like sweetness – and a great tannic sensation” – Pete Licata’s espresso notes.

10:24 station maintenance, conservation of movement – @petelicata is the zen master of these competition concepts. watch and learn.

10:27 sig drink: chilled shots, palm sugar simple syrup, lemongrass / orange / quinine bitters -non-alcoholic coffee cocktail – – Mr. Licata’s sig drink is cocktail influenced, right down to his gorgeous stirring sticks and pouring pitchers

Mr. Licata calls time at 15:07


2. Jeremy Ho, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Canada

10:42 this routine begins with Jeremy Ho communicating cupping aromas via a series of aromatic gels – he’s competing here at #WBC2013 using @philandseb‘s Ethiopia Duromina, a Coopeartive in the Guji Zone of Western Ethiopia. As espresso this coffee yields “cherry, dried cranberry, a slight cranberry acidity, creamy mouthfeel and medium body”

10:46 GREAT capp notes: “dark chocolate and dried cranberry custard”  – yes plz.

10:52 sig drink: summit hops and peach reduction placed into a gooseneck kettle, then poured over a bowl of fruit before then adding liquid nitrogen to produce “clouds of aroma” – “I love aroma because it sparks your imagination.”

Jeremy Ho calls time at 14:57


3. Nick Clark, Flight Coffee, New Zealand

11:04 Nick Clark is a bit of a story here at #WBC2013 – his first run was very strong indeed, and we can’t wait to watch again. There’s this charming  conversational quality to how @nickroydclark competes – little slangy phrases, a friendly demeanor…

11:06 Mr. Clark competes w/ a pretty special coffee – @cafeimports French Mission sun dried Kenya, from the Thiriku region – “bright, juicy nectarine” sweetness in his espressos with “a dry, husky cocoa note – what I consider to be quite a lovely linger.”

11:12 billy idol’s “hot in the city” as @nickroydclark moves into his capp course – “smooth, creamy butterscotch.”

11:15 sig drink includes three distinct infusions – a sweet, viscous nectarine infusion, dehydrated raspberry & rose peel cold infusion, and a cocoa nib cold infusion.

Mr. Clark calls time at 15:03


4. Matthew Perger, St. Ali, Australia

11:22 just so many details to call in real time here – espressos served in a frozen demitasse, the “nutator” (with a bloody ‘n’) rotating tamping technique, and espressos made with St. Ali’s Colombia Caucua region Finca Santuario red bourbon.

11:26 “by mixing in different vegetation to a cow’s diet the day before milking, we’re able to affect its flavor” – Mr. Perger’s milk tastes like “”a matcha green tea, really subtle praline sweetness, and an unbelievably clean finish” and comes from a cow called Freckles. The cow was put onto a clover patch on the last day, “creating a really wonderful milk.”

11:31 sig drink: the “Coffee Shot”, an espresso shot that’s the strength of a filter coffee, with its crema strained via paper filter. Mr. Perger employs three cultivars from @ST_ALI‘s Finca Santuario for his sig drink – there are no additional ingredients. It’s an all-coffee sig drink. Varieties used for the “Coffee Shot” include red bourbon, caturra, & geisha, all grown at Finca Santuario.

Mr. Perger calls time at 14:58

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5. Jinkyu Kim, Core, South Korea

11:43 Mr. Kim competes using bourbon variety washed process from Santuario, Colombia, the same Department as Matt Perger. his espressos taste of “bread crumb, sugar, honey, medium body, & a pinch of cocoa.”

11:47 there are just throngs of Korean amateur & professional media here for Jinkyu Kim – it’s probably the largest traveling fan base of #WBC2013. At one point his set includes a K-Pop song with corresponding kind of hand dance, done in unison by the non-camera wielding aforementioned throngs.

11:49 Mr. Kim is another one of these station maintenance, movement economy guys – this is a workmanlike #WBC2013 routine and that’s a compliment.

11:55 Mr. Kim’s sig drink is a fresh fruit siphon pot maceration using multiple parts of an orange – pith, zest, and the “sweet juicy fruit.”

Mr. Kim calls time at 14:57


6. Lucca Casadei, Segafredo Zanetti, France

12:15 Mr. Casadei  presents the judges with a Costa Rican coffee as brewed coffee and as cascara parchment. His espresso is a red catuai variety from Costa Rica’s Central Valley -“dried pineapple, honey mouthfeel, and a citrus note.”

12:19 He’s a smooth customer, this Luca Casadei – easy like Sunday morning, man, doesn’t seem stressed in the slightest. And then all of a sudden, Mr. Casadei calls a brief, unexplained tech – but it’s NBD, he’s straight back to business. You do you Luca, you do you.

12:25 Sig drink: parchment infusion, a touch of honey, and espresso served in a special wine glass – “very very pleasant.”

Mr. Casadei calls time at 14:53


7. Francesco Sanapo, Italy

12:40 Mr. Sanapo competes with a natural processed Ethiopian Nekisse coffee, comprised of heriloom varieties (of course) and served in a variety of mixed roast profiles.

12:44 “The life of the espresso, to simulate what happens in the coffee bar after we serve the coffee” – @sanapofrancesco‘s routine in a nutshell.

12:47 “I want to analyze the evolution of the taste of espresso throughout its life” – he’s striving for an espresso service with “elegance and balance, a red fruit acidity that suggests raspberries.”

Mr. Sanapo calls time at 14:54


8. Thanasis Nikolis, Tailor Made, Greece

1:02 Mr. Nikolis also competes with an Ethiopian natural processed Nikesse – that’s at least 2 of the 12 semi-finalists using this coffee, from 90 Plus Coffee.

1:07 Greece has a proud, vibrant World Barista Competition history – Stefanos Domatiotis is has been a multi-year WBC finalist, and Mr. Nikolis is no slouch either, having made the WBC Semis here in his first year as the Greek champ. Learn more about Mr. Nikolis’ coffee bar, Tailor Made, in Athens, Greece – click here.

1:12 Multiple cascara infusions in Mr. Nikolis’ sig drink, plus an espresso service “roasted for filter coffee” – that is, a bit lighter.

Mr. Nikolis calls time at 15:01


9. Colin Harmon, 3FE, Ireland

1:24 “Specialty coffee is progressive – it takes something that’s amazing, and it gets even better. It progresses.”

1:26 Mr. Harmon competes at #WBC2013 with a washed Pacamara from Finca Santa Petrona in El Salvador, roasted by @HasBean – it’s yielding espressos with “cherry, milk chocolate sweetness, and green apple acidity.”

1:28 “The first sip you’re going to take is not to be scored – it’s just for reference.” – Sam Lewontin just fell over in his chair. So intentional with the judges!

1:37 “Bend over, get your nose in there, don’t be shy” – aroma boxes for the judges to whiff before serving his sig.


1:39 The most immediately memorable signature drink of WBC belongs to Colin Harmon. Malted barley, hops, water, cherry, fresh pressed apple juice, espresso & co2 combined to achieve a “a coffee stout” – because what could be more Irish. Ah, but the hook is that @dublinbarista‘s coffee stout is BOTTLED ON STAGE for the judges, with a bloody bottle cap and & all, then served to them in a cardboard 4 pack! Who just thinks up that stuff? On-stage bottled non-alocholic coffee stout service. Wild.

1:44 “For me, El Salvador is THE progressive coffee growing country – not just able to do better, but willing.”

Mr. Harmon calls time at 14:55


10. Jose De La Pena, Cafe Casa, Guatemala

2:04 As per a qualified source, Mr. De La Pena is the first semi-finalists in World Barista Championship history to use a translator. His translator today is the current reigning WBC champion Raul Rodas, also from Guatemala. Many competitors used translators in round one – there were 5 this year at #WBC2013, but Mr. De La Pena is the first in WBC history to advance to the next round.

2:08 Mr. De La Pena’s starting with a sig drink – aromatic ground coffee, dried coffee flowers, and cascara, all from the same plant. He is yet another competitor to use a natural processed coffee at #WBC2013 – this show has been a sea of naturals. His is a yellow bourbon from the Antigua region of Guatemala, yielding notes of “pineapple, baked apple, sweet florality of jasmine.”

2:11 Lazer focused, this Mr. De La Pena – espressos are served with accompanying aromatics to impact taste.

Mr. De La Pena of Guatemala calls time at 14:30


11. John Gordon, Square Mile Coffee Roasters, United Kingdom

2:27 Mr. Gordon’s routine is about controlling parameters – taste, roast, senses, sounds. This is a flight for the judges, and @GorillaTampers is the pilot.

2:31 John Gordon (@GORILLATAMPERS) is using a modified @NuovaSimonelli Mythos grinder w/ an updated “flap” for enhanced precision. He controls the auditory influences on the judges by having them wear headphones, through which he’s piping in soft classical music.


2:37 This routine mirrors Mr. Gordon’s #UKBC win – read an in-depth account of that victory here, for our London features writer Elyse Bouvier. But he is competing with a different coffee, Square Mile’s La Buitrera, a coffee from Huila, Colombia.

2:41 “I want to affect your perception by shaping your experience, to help you understand what I taste in this coffee.” His signature drink includes pipettes of distillate and great smoking bell jars of condensed aroma. It’s arguably the most complex and demanding signature drink of WBC.

Mr. Gordon calls time at 14:51


12. William Hernandez, Viva Espresso, El Salvador

2:55 “Today you will taste something exciting – a completely new process!”  Mr. Hernandez is using a hybrid processed coffee that’s been pulped AND washed. The coffee is pulped, yes, and washed, yes – and then ALL the contents are fermented together in tanks, air drying afterwards on raised beds.  You’ve got the parchment, the pulp, the cherries, all of it drying together before being sorted – this does all kinds of wild things to the moisture and sugar content of the coffee. Exciting stuff!

3:02 “Creamy mouthfeel, roasted almonds, and chocolate chip cookie” notes in William Hernandez’ capps.

3:07 Mr. Hernandez’s espresso service is SUPER interesting – he’s topped them with wine glasses to yield condensation, before placing those glasses over ground coffee to further absorb aroma. “Fantastic fragrance and aroma! I smell caramel, and a fruity essence”


3:12 There is this charming, lilting ,lyrical quality to Mr. Hernandez’s dialogue – this guy is something special. His sig drink is complex and includes cupping blooms, cascara, honey, condensation aromatics, and lime peels. Gorgeous and mouthwatering.

Mr. Hernandez calls time at exactly flat.


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