2019 World Barista Championship Semi-Finals Recap

16 competitors took the stage today at the World Barista Championship Semi-Finals in Boston, Massachusetts, just one tantalizing step away from making it to the final six vying for the top spot as the 2019 World Barista Champion.

We saw a lot of really interesting things in the sum total four hours of routines that occurred today. Unique stage setups, competitors using multiple coffees, and more carbonic maceration and anaerobic fermentation than you can shake a stick at. There was so many fantastic moments today at the Semi-Final round of the World Barista Championship, and luckily, many of them we’ll get to see one last time tomorrow in the Finals. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look back at all that transpired here on Day Three.

All of SprudgeLive’s 2019 competition coverage is made possible by Acaia, Baratza, Faema, Cafe Imports, Wilbur Curtis, Third Wave Water, Minor Figures, and Mahlkönig.

In 2019 SprudgeLive is home to the Digital Roasters Village, because it takes a village to cover a barista competition. The Digital Roasters Village features Camber Coffee, Verve Coffee, Partners Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, Rishi Tea, Kickapoo Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Onyx Coffee Lab, Creation Coffee, Amavida, and Equator Coffees without whom this work would not be possible.

Mikael Jasin, Common Grounds Coffee Roaster, Indonesia

And we’re off! Our first competitor at the World Barista Championship is Mikael Jasin of Common Grounds Coffee Roaster in Indonesia

For his routine, is concentrating on “purpose driven fermentation,” highlighting three different fermentation techniques, one for each of his courses.

For espresso, is using a carbonic macerated Green tip gesha from Panama, with a rose aroma, orange vibrancy, and notes of blackberry

After a Panama Gesha and a natural Ethiopia, is opting for a longberry from his home country of Indonnesia for his sig bev.

Carbonic macerated strawberry juice and red plum juice round out the components for Jasin’s signature beverage.

Giacomo Vannelli, Vannelli Specialty Coffee, Italy

For his coffee today, uses a washed, carbonic macerated Gesha from the esteemed in Panama.

in the 21g in, 40g out espresso, has his coffee dosed out into three separate 7g vials that all get ground together “for more complexity.”

Notes of blackberry, plum, with a black tea finish for ‘s Gesha espresso course.

For his milk course, switches to a natural processed version of the same carbonic macerated Gesha from the espresso course.

Mimicking the carbonic maceration process, Vannelli combines espresso, brewed coffee of his Gesha, and cherry jam

Dove Chen, Grey St Kitchen Cafe, New Zealand

“Do you remember that first coffee that gave you that moment of happiness?” For Chen, that coffee today is an anaerobic fermented Gesha from Finca Nuguo in Panama.

Before moving to the espresso machine to make his first round of drinks, Chen places some egg whites into a standing mixer to be used in his sig bev.

Lime oil, cascara syrup, apple syrup, and egg white foam get blended together with Chen’s Finca Nuguo espresso for his sig bev.

Green grape, sweet lime, green apple, and jasmine flavor notes in Chen’s Finca Nuguo Gesha espresso course.

Finishing off his routine with the milk course, Chen’s 1:1 milk to espresso beverage expresso notes ripe banana, cocoa nib, malt, and butterscotch

Junior Vargas Otero, Gota Coffee, Austria

“Sometimes we forget that coffee is made by people for people” — Junior Vargas Otero of Austria

Vargas Otero competes with a Green Tip Gesha from Tolima, Colombia, having notes of cherry, blackcurrant and strawberry jam, roasted almonds, jasmine, and a hint of vanilla.

Vargas Otero’s Green Tip Gesha undergoes a tartaric acid fermentation, where the acid of red grapes is added to the tanks the coffees undergo fermentation in.

Butterscotch, toffee, strawberry and vanilla yogurt, and a caramel sweetness in Vargas Otero’s milk beverages here at

Coffee blossom tea and cascara syrup get blended together with espresso for Vargas Otero’s sig bev, poured into long-stem tulip glasses, and finished off with a coffee blossom smoke.

Jooyeon Jeon, Momos Coffee, South Korea

Jooyeon Jeon had one of the most engaging performances in Round One, and we’re pretty excited to get to watch it again.

Jeon competes with a Sidra variety coffee grown by the esteemed in Tolima, Colombia.

Jeon is one of many competitors to really utilize the different stage configurations allowed at WBC. She has her judges leaning against a table while she works at the espresso machine. It’s a less formal service but incredibly engaging.

Starting off with the milk course, Jeon’s cappuccinos have notes of caramelized almonds, white chocolate, and dried cranberries

Espresso for Jeon has notes of blackberries, currants, and dark chocolate.

Michael Harris, Henry and Sons Co Inc., Philippines

. competes today with “Lot 79,” a Gesha variety coffee from the celebrated Gesha Village in Ethiopia. As an espresso, it has notes of candied orange, passionfruit, honey, and earl grey

That carbonic macerated Gesha Village coffee gets combined with milk is distilling on stage in a rotating evaporator to increase the sweetness, giving his drinks notes of melted chocolate rum ice cream and papaya

For his sig bev, is creating a drink reminiscent of root beer, with chilled espresso and lactic acid from fermented coconuts, with a nitro charge.

The Barista Champion from the Philippines Michael Harris of Henry and Sons Co Inc calls time on his Semi-Finals routine.

Mathieu Theis, Mame, Switzerland

. is the co-owner of MAME along with 2018 World Brewers Cup champion Emi Fukahori. Theis is trying increase the ownership to 100% World Coffee Champions

. will use three different coffees from three different farms today, all brought together together with one unifying characteristic: “tank fermentation.”

For the espresso course, uses a carbonic macerated coffee from Mina Gerais, Brazil—the “Lorena”—having notes of red grape, white wine, and dried pineapple

For the milk course, uses a freeze distilled milk from Zurich steamed to a slightly cooler temp—60 deg C—for notes of banana, melted chocolate ice cream, and cacao nib finish

Does ‘s dress shirt have an anthropomorphic coffee bean above the pocket playing some sort of flute and then another coffee bean free falling off the side of the pocket? These are the questions we need answers to.

It’s apples three ways in Theis’ sig bev: apple syrup, apple kombucha, and apple vinegar.

Carlos de la Torre, Cafe con Jiribilla, Mexico

. is another competitor to utilize a unique stage setup. The judges are sitting two by two around a table instead of sitting four to a side in the standard setup

Starting things off with the milk course, ‘s cortados have notes of peach yogurt, sweet creme brulee, and strawberry milkshake

De la Torre competes with an anaerobic fermented coffee from La Jolla in Mexico. As an espresso, it has notes of orange jam, muscavado sugar, sweet vermouth, and cooked pineapple

For his sig bev, uses orange juice, fermented orange peel simple, and espresso shaken over roasted cascara infusion ice cubes.

Mathew Lewin, ONA Coffee, Australia

“We live in a bubble in specialty coffee”

. competes today with a Parainema variety coffee from Santa Barbara, Honduras, having notes of 78% Venezuelan dark chocolate and raw fermented Peruvian cacao nib in milk.

. uses the sig bev to bridge the gap between familiar darker chocolate notes and brighter fruits, and switches to a Parainema coffee from La Huerta, also in Honduras.

Blackened chestnut syrup, rotisserie roasted coconuts, and La Huerta filtered coffee ice comprise ‘s sig bev here at .

Notes of orange and blackcurrant in fruit-forward espresso course using the Honduras La Huerta coffee.

Martha Grill, Octàvio Café, Brazil

Grill earned her spot on the stage today as being the highest scoring member of Team Knockbox—winners of the team comp—to not automatically qualify. As an homage, Grill is rocking her Team Knockbox shirt

Grill kicks things off with the espresso course, a natural processed Bourbon variety coffee grown in Brazil of course.

Raspberry jam, brown sugar, dried cranberry, and red grape in Grill’s espresso course

There’s a lot of joy and energy in Grill’s routine. She looks like she’s having a lot of fun on stage and it’s infectious.

Combing the carbonic macerated natural processed Bourbon with freeze distilled milk, Grill’s milk course has notes of prune, raisin, and malted chocolate

Grill is basing her routine around the three biggest fears of a new barista: dialing in espresso, steaming milk, and sensory evaluation. Each course will explore and break down these fears.

Matt Winton, Mame, Sweden

Melted dark chocolate ice cream and strawberry milkshake in Winton’s milk beverage course today, using unhomogenized full fat milk for Switzerland

“Sticky beans, guys.” That’s not really something you hear everyday at the World Barista Championship

Instructing the judges to move to the right of the right angle bar for the espresso course, Winton switches coffees to a double anaerobic fermented Pink Bourbon variety coffee from Colombia.

Passionfruit, fresh cherry, and red apple notes in Winton’s double anaerobic fermented Pink Bourbon espresso course.

Winton final course is a “zero waste signature beverage,” using coffee cherry jelly made with juice from the waste cherries used in producing the Pink Bourbon and butter from leftover milk from WBC training

Wojtek Bialczak, Five Elephant Coffee, Germany

“I’ve never heard anyone complain about coffee being too sweet” — Wojtek Bialczak of

Bialczak competes today with a natural processed coffee from Las Nubes in Cauca, Colombia. He is holding off on revealing the variety of the coffee until later on in the routine.

Lots of flavor calls in Bialczak’s espresso course: mandarin, dark chocolate, dried papaya, cane sugar, and passionfruit.

Bialczak reveals the coffee he is using today to be the exotic Eugenioides variety. Truly, the flavor of a Eugenioides coffee is like no other coffee out there.

For his sig bev, Bialczak combines chilled espresso, Amazake (fermented rice drink), elderberry juice, mandarin, and hibiscus, shaken over ice and finished off with a hop tea aromatic.

Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, The UnderDog, Greece

Dimitrakopoulos competes today with an anaerobic fermented Gesha from in Panama.

Dimitrakopoulos starts off by prepping his espresso for his sig bev, which he puts into a syphon and uses dry ice instead of heat to push the espresso up the brewer into an environment similar to that of the one used in anaerobic fermentation.

For his espresso course, Dimirakopoulos’ Gesha has notes of blackberry, grapefruit, and raspberry

Look at that syphon just a bubblin’

For his sig bev, Dimikrakopoulos combines that syphon espresso with a concoction made of sous vide butter and dried strawberries, and put in an anaerobic environment with more dry ice.

Konstantin Khramov, DoubleB Coffee and Tea, Russia

Khramov is our third competitor today to use a carbonic macerated Gesha from in Panama.

White peach, mango, honey, and a hint of coconut in Khramov’s espresso course.

Switching coffee for the milk course, Khramov shifts to a Caturra variety grown in Costa Rica. And carbonically macerated of course.

Cinnamon, apple pie, and milk chocolate in Khramov’s Costa Rican coffee-based milk beverage.

The coffee Khramov uses for his milk course is a little more developed than that of his espresso course, stretching the roast time out by a full minute from nine minutes to ten.

Sig bev for Khramov incorporates hhey, sous vide vanilla, orange peel, and brown sugar simple, stewed and sous vide orange, blended, served in a chilled wine glass, and finished with a dramatic aromatic cinnamon fog.

Maria Elena Rivera, Kaba Coffee Center/Franco Specialty Coffee Shop, Costa Rica

Making exciting coffee doesn’t need exotic coffee or experimental processing methods.” Not sure how everyone is going to hear the rest of Rivera’s script after that big ole mic drop.

Using a coffee from her home country of Costa Rica, Rivera’s espressos have notes of grapefruit, orange jam, dark caramel, hazelnut, and hints of spice.

Coffee for Rivera is red-honey processed at La Perla del Cafe micromill.

Lemon pudding, shortbread, hazelnut, and milk chocolate in Rivera’s milk course. “It reminds me of key lime pie.”

Sig bev for Rivera includes chaff cold brew, passionfruit, panela reduction, and a parchment mucilage milk, all blended together and served in snifters.

Cole Torode, Rosso Coffee Roasters, Canada

Torode competes with three different coffees from the same farm, same processing method, same variety. The only difference when those were harvested.

All coffees for Torode are a natural processed anaerobic fermented Sidra variety from in Colombia.

For the first course, the milk course, Torode is using a Sidra harvested in 2018, having notes of stewed apricots, hazelnut and dark chocolate melted ice cream, and sweet vanilla.

Moving onto the espresso course, Torode is using the 2019 vintage Sidra from with notes of cool climate chardonnay, nectarine, blood orange, and dark chocolate

For his sig bev, Torode magnetic mixes one shot of each 2018 and 2019 vintages and oven roasted green grapes, then adds a third steep of pu’erh tea from Yunnan province of China, all shaken with an ice sphere

See you tomorrow for the Finals of the World Barista Championship!