The 2010 World Coffee Championships were held at the Caffè Culture show at London's Olympia last week, with Mike Phillips of Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago becoming the first American to win the title of World Barista Champion.
The UK champion, John Gordon of London, did not progress past the first round, but the Irish champion Colin Harmon of Dublin did reach the final stages and is now rated fourth in the espresso-making world.
Roaster Steve Leighton of Has Bean in Stafford works with both the UK contestants and considers their work to have raised issues for the general catering trade to note.
"Colin Harmon did something entirely different by brewing the same coffee twice, once with hard water and once with soft water. It completely changed the way it tasted and he has done a great job in drawing attention to the importance of water as an ingredient," he said.
"John Gordon is one of the most technically gifted baristas I have ever worked with, and he finished 14th, which out of the entire coffee world, is something to be proud of. What he has done, which has probably never been done before, is to compete in the finals of a world competition, using a coffee prepared by two different roasters."
This involved a Bolivian coffee roasted at the Has Bean roastery and an El Salvador coffee roasted by Square Mile in London which Gordon then post-blended after the individual coffees had been roasted.
The top British place at the championships was achieved by Ed Buston of Clifton Coffee in Bristol. He came second in the Coffee in Good Spirits championship, which involves the creation of coffee cocktails using alcohol as an ingredient, missing out on the world title by just four points.
The British coffee trade also made its mark in the World Aeropress Championship, which is a new contest that highlights the making of high-quality filter coffee through a completely manual process. The contest was won by the Danish contestant, Marie Hagermeister of Copenhagen, but was sponsored and supported by Cream Supplies of Portsmouth, which has just created a new brewstation which allows caterers to position several of the Aeropress coffee-makers on the same area of counter-top.
By Ian Boughton
Photos by Isabel Whitfield