A Briton bested competitors from 51 other countries to win the recent World Barista Championship in Atlanta, Georgia.
Winner Gwilym Davies said the caffeinated competition was more difficult than other events he has participated in. “In sports, I was able to run harder, or tackle harder … but this, I still have to keep composed, and watch the shots,” the pushcart owner told CNN on Sunday. “I found it tougher.” Each competitor served four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks. Despite incurring a penalty for running 17 seconds over the 15-minute limit, Davies’ prowess steamed him to the fore of the competition. “It brings together a group of people from all around the world and we currently have a structure of 61 nations that are part of the family,” said Cindy Chang, executive director of the World Barista Championship. The competition was held during the annual meeting of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, which attracted thousands of participants from around the world. In addition to winning an espresso machine, Davies will travel extensively this year representing the specialty coffee community.
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In what some view as a strange twist, none of the champions over the past decade has come from a country that grows coffee. “It does seem kind of perplexing, because what we look for in this competition is for the baristas to tell a story, show that they have a broad coffee knowledge,” said Chang. “And the baristas from coffee-producing countries seem to have an easy access to this.” Davies said he owes his success to his willingness to improvise. “There were 256 different drinks that we could have made,” he said. “We tried a few and added the ingredients. But it was still a bit risky … and we got away with it!” The next world championship is to be held next year in London, England.