The 2023 World of Coffee event in Athens did not disappoint. Especially so for the four World Coffee Championships it hosted. More than 140 coffee professionals competed in the World Barista Championship, World Brewers Cup, World Cup Tasters, and the World Cezve/Ibrik Championship.
The audience was unanimous that the standards displayed by competitors were the highest they’ve ever been. Judges had a tough time choosing a winner in every competition. But in the end, of course, they did.
Boram Um, from Brazil, was crowned the new World Barista Champion. Chile’s Carlos Medina took the World Brewers Cup title. The World Cup Tasters Champion was Young Baek, from Australia. And the Cezve/Ibrik Championship title went to France’s Pierre de Chanterac.
We sat down with Pierre for a chat about his journey from the first time he tasted specialty coffee, to the the moment he held the championship trophy in Athens. He had some great advice for baristas who are thinking of competing.
Please introduce yourself to our audience
My name is Pierre de Chantérac, from Paris, France. I am head of Coffee at Terres de Café, a French specialty coffee roastery created in 2009 by Christophe Servell. I supervise the Quality and Education within the company.
I also travel a lot. To origin to connect with our partners, to countries where we open coffee shops (we have shops in Seoul, South-Korea) and to compete abroad through diverse championships.
I have been competing on the World Stage in Brewers Cup, Aeropress and recently Ibrik coffee.
Tell us about the first time you tasted specialty coffee
I tasted my first sweet and sour, non-bitter specialty coffee cup, at a kitchen exhibition in Paris. Before finding my path in the coffee world I studied gastronomy at Ferrandi Paris, as I planned to become a chef. From that world I kept the greed to taste and share amazing flavors and the strive for perfection.
Why did you decide to compete?
For me, attempting a competition is always the same quest : to challenge myself, sharpen my skills and meet people that do exactly the same as I do somewhere else, so that we can confront our knowledge and prisms, and finally build our community with a global understanding of coffee excellence.
Also, it helps me to build strong relationships with many people on the way. For the Ibrik competition, more than ever, I asked people for help and advice, and from all over the world I received unconditional support. This makes me feel part of something bigger. I say all over the world, of course because we are working with people that produce coffee very far away, and that we help each other between international competitors.
But most of the help, knowledge, energy and global support came from my close team, the baristas I work with on a daily basis. I am very proud that this achievement reflects the way we see and do coffee in Terres de Café, in Paris and in France.
I notice that this emulation can actually change people. Many would never go on a competition stage, but some took part in the process close to me with so much intensity that at the end everyone involved has somehow changed and learnt something.
It is definitely a collective journey.
Why do you think you won in Athens?
I received very good feedback regarding the smoothness of the routine. For sure, a great routine is key to make sure that the theme and speech are properly delivered and perfectly understood. Whether on stage or in a coffee shop, we need to feel at ease to deliver or receive a multi-sensory experience at its best.
That said, let’s not forget that what makes you win or lose in any SCA competition is first and foremost the cup quality. It is about the coffee, and it has to be outstanding.
What’s next for you?
I will keep doing what I do at Terres de Café.
Any advice for barista who want to compete?
Taste your coffee as if you were a judge, with the same taste protocol. You need to know how your coffee performs on the scoresheet.
Enjoy it. Embrace the idea that judges are coffee professionals, passionate, and willing to give you the highest possible score. So, everything should be coherent, and first you have to enjoy your time so that they can enjoy theirs. If you want to go on stage for 15 minutes to deliver an outstanding hospitality performance, you need to practice feeling very comfortable with it.
Photography by Paul Perret.