Sara and I came down Friday the 27th, doing some preparations for practice time on the machine the following days, finding milk and getting ourselves situated. Klaus came down the following day with more coffee and his celebrity glamour, so we were ready and in shape for a two-hour training session the following day.
Anxious to see how the local milk would taste and appear in combination with my coffee, what the water would be like and of course there’s been a lot of talk around how the espresso will react to such high altitudes, we were an excited little group of people with many questions entering the training space at Amor Perfecto.
We tested some different roast dates and found the oldest date (17/05) to be the absolute best. Having this high an altitude makes the crema of the espresso expand more, making it very bubbly, so using beans that have de-gassed a lot work better. We practiced with local fresh milk, but found the milk we brought from Denmark to be better in what we were looking for in terms of flavor and texture. A big thanks to Leo Corleone for bringing some additional milk and coffee for us all the way from Denmark.
The next day we were on our way to Armenia and a 2- day coffee trip sponsored by Café de Colombia. We visited coffee farms; saw the coffee research facility of Cenicafe, Juan Valdez funpark and much more. It was an amazing trip from start to finish. Also great to see that there are serious focus on bringing right information out to the farms themselves, giving them tools to produce good quality coffees.
Back in Bogota we had our official practice time, the day before the competition itself. It was a nerve-wrecking and intense few hours. As the Mazzer Robur grinder was stuck in customs and would be arriving as my practice time was done and over with, we had no grinder to practice on. At that point everything was looking a little black as we would only have 15 minutes the next morning to dial in the burr set that we brought with us from Denmark, also dialing in both roasts and test the very limited amount of Danish milk we had.
Lucky for us we were very fortunate. Unsure if it was because of my desperate look in my eyes or not, but the lovely Marcus Boni let me split my 1 hour practice time in two parts, and squeezed me in for 30 minutes very early the next morning to set my Robur.
I used my first day practice time on milk steaming and the lighter espresso roast was set to perfection, all there was to do now was to go home, do some mental training and get lots of sleep.
That didn’t happen. After having a very nice relaxing massage the same night I was feeling a bit low, and very drowsy, and I couldn’t sleep at all, in the halfway between sleep and being awake I kept going over the different parts of my presentation. So waking up at 5am, with a fever that is, was more a relief if anything.
We arrived at Corferias where the competition took place and were quick to get our gear in shape due to the short amount of time we had. It went well, with expertise assistance from Sara and Klaus right next to me. Still feeling lousy and building an even higher fever, I was not feeling fresh or ready to compete at all, so I stuffed myself with some painkillers, went had my mental training for a small hour and got myself amped for competing.
This was IT! Getting out on stage and setting up was the best part ever. I didn’t feel nervous, I was calm, and my hands didn’t shake as I was preparing the cupping, as they normally do when I’m nervous. The shots I pulled from both espressos also tasted incredible, so I felt very secure on my dial in and the roast dates we’ve had selected.
My 15 minutes started, I was giving my introduction and went to prepare my first shots of espresso when something went very wrong. The grinder was acting really weird. The dose, which had been set perfectly with minimal amount of waste in my preparation time had suddenly changed, and a lot more coffee came out. I decided to go ahead and make both double shots, wasting a lot of coffee as a consequence of the higher dose. I quickly saw the shots weren’t running as they should, so in the heat of the moment, I bluntly stopped them without wasting more time. I could almost hear Klaus’ heart jump from the sideline. I remade the espresso and the second set was better, although not as good as I’d have liked.
The rest of the presentation went ok. I knew that I was very limited on time and had to do things very disciplined and pick up the pace to finish in time, which I did, with a finish time coming in on 14:51 minutes.
The next two days I was in bed with a fever. No energy and not eating anything much but watermelon, so I can’t say I was in my top form. Sara even had to stand in for me when announcing the semi-finalists.
Unfortunately for me there were 14 great baristas doing a better job on the score sheets, so there was no need for me to prepare myself for the next day, which I was very disappointed not to do. The semi-finalists were all excellent and well deserving semi-finalists, I only wish I could have gotten that second chance.
Watching the finals on Sunday was amazing. The roof almost lifted when Alejandro Mendez from El Salvador was announced the winner. What a great performance, great concept and a truly great ambassador for specialty coffee this man will be. I’m very excited to follow him in the coming year. I wish him the best of luck!
I would like to thank a few people that have really stood behind me and beside me in this little adventure.
First I would like to thank The Coffee Collective for giving me loads and loads of support creating solid frames and great guidance all the way thru the process. It has been truly amazing to feel the engagement from your side.
Then my two key persons I could not have done anything without. Sara Sundby; my coach and right hand all the way from the Danish champs to the WBC. You have been such a star! And Mathias Skovmand Larsen; food chemist and the Man of mans when it comes to innovative thinking in gastronomic ways. You have spent more time on this then I ever could imagine, Thank you!
Then we have all the tasters, and judges throughout my training and practice presentations, for taking the time, giving great feed back and golden advice along the way.
I would like to give big thanks to Edwin Martinez and the whole Finca Vista Hermosa team, for the great help of getting the new crop Finca Vista Hermosa to the roastery in time for WBC. I know how hard you worked for the beans getting here fast enough.
To Eva Solo, for everything I needed in glassware, utensils, serving trays etc. – I got it pronto. Uh la la Julie for helping out with signature drink cups even though she gave birth a week before the WBC, Paco Jet for sponsoring the machine for WBC, to Roger Wittman and La Marzocco USA for amazing assistance on the Mazzer grinder to and from Bogota. The help from all of you has meant a great deal to me.