The day started with the last semifinalists. Then the judges retired to discuss and decide who should go on to the finals (6 baristi). This took some time and people started to get restless, especially the baristi that felt they might make it.
Before the six finalists were announced, the judge Fritz Storm (WBC winner 2002) and Willy Hansen, spoke about their general impressions so far in the competition. Fritz said that he felt the average level of competence to be very high among the norwegian baristi. As a consequence the comments from the judges were more focused on minute details than normal. He hoped the contestants wouldn't react to this.
He then went on to say that the baristi should talk more during their presentations, like for instance describe their blend, their opinions, stories, their technique etc. He was especially charmed by baristi who said that they "would really like to serve you this drink.." or something to that effect, demonstrating their desire to serve the customer the best possible coffee drink. In the coming final all baristi spoke more. It was obvious that they had gotten the message. Fritz also encouraged looking more at the judges and the audience.
The next subject he got into was latte art. He said that latte art could be a beautiful thing to do in a competition, but that it could quite easily be a disaster if the latte art was lousy and the foam 2mm thin. Too many steam milk to do detailed latte art instead of doing a velvety and satisfying drink.
The six finalists:
Martine Roberts, stockfleths, 450p
Torstein Bj?rklund, kaffeb?nna, 441p
Tim wendelboe, stockfleths, 438p
Gunhild seljenes, studentkafeene, 430p
Martin Solvang, mocca, 429,5p
Kaveh Ataei, Soria Moria, 421,5
I really enjoyed seing Torstein move on to the finals. He put on quite a show and charmed everybody in the semifinals. He spoke a lot with the judges, commented on his drinks, blend, glasses, background etc. All in all he was a true professional, charming, clean and with a very nice technique. The blend he used was "Half & Half" which is sort of a classic here in Norway. It is 50% french roast and 50% italian roast. The exact beans used is unknown to me. Many, many coffee bars here in Norway use this blend and it works nicely in milk based drinks. If I recall correctly, Robert Thoresen won the first WBC in 2000 with "Half & half". Torstein would probably benefit from using a lighter blend next year (are you competing next year?) like the "SH espresso", that Tim W. used.
Tim W. also went on to the finals. I was really happy to see that since he had been really pessimistic before the announcement. He thought his espressi had been too bad to be among the last six.
After the announcement I spoke to a nice couple that owns a small coffee roastery in Skien ("Skien kaffebrenneri"). They have a 5kg Has Garanti roaster and roasts to order in the Skien area. They also import green beans. So far everything has been running smoothly, but he told me that he is expecting some complaints from his neigbbours after doing some really smoky dark roasts lately, hehe.
To round off my report from the championships, here are some notes I did during the final:
Kaveh had some unfortunate problems with his La Marzocco grinder and was forced to halt his presentation. Morten from Celcon (norwegian importer of LM) assisted him and they soon got him back on track.
In his signature drink he used a homemade smooth blueberry-jam, honey, cream, homemade vanilla sugar. His aim was to make a signature drink that "could serve as a dessert on its own if necessary". I went to taste it myself after the judges had finished. It was real nice, balanced, fruity, long aftertaste of blueberry and espresso, but could have been a bit sweeter? I think I recall him saying that it was supposed to be sweeter, but something had gone wrong or he lacked an ingredient. I don't fully remember.
Signature drink with "nugatti" chocolate spread, the preferred food of many youths in norway :). Torstein was very popular and got a healthy round of applause from the audience several times. He commented on the wooden trays he was using to serve drinks with. They'd been desinged by a carpenter and designer in his hometown of Troms?, and he had actually promised the designer to comment on this if he got to the finals :)
Liquid Tiramisu, mascarpone, marsalo-syrup, tall and narrow cocktail glasses. His presentation was more verbal this time around, very professional and with nice jazz music to accompany his coffee magic. He used the "SH espresso" blend. I got to taste his signature drink. It was very nice, smooth and sweet, grated chocolate on top, made me somehow think of christmas. Don't know why :). Tim got a big round of applause. Audun commented that he "really liked the jazz tendencies" in the barista scene :)
Relaxed, but didn't talk much compared to the others. Used a blend ("Crescendo" from Mocca?) that includes ethiopia sidamo and Kenya.
His signature drink was made of steamed cream, six ristretto shots of espresso, an egg yoke, keragen (similar to gelatin, but with some other characteristics), mixed with a blender ("stavmikser"), then put into a sort of soda maker that he has used before. He then poured the stuff into some really cool plates. Drink temperature was about 50 degrees celsius to maximize flavour and the espresso coffee used a single origin Kenya (probably the one I have tried earlier. Super stuff).
Great presentation with colorful napkins, tulips etc. Signature drink with orange-granite ("blodappelsin"), lime and a shakerato. Big applause. Audun went to taste it and reported that it had a strong orange flavour and was made a bit sour in contrast to the espresso/shakerato. He felt it could probably have benefited from even more orange-granite.
Signature drink with three double shots of espresso, a twist of lime and ice cream. The drink was titled "simply the best". I later overheard a conversation she had with fritz storm and morten from celcon. They both said that her espresso and cappuccino was top notch, but that her signature drink would have to be more original to be able to win a competition like this. I tasted it myself and I have to agree. It was nice, like chocolate-espresso-ice cream, but not original.