WBC Thoughts

I should probably try and post some vague approximations of all the craziness, stress, surprise and good times that was the WBC this year.

So – Gwilym’s performance:  I am sure pretty much everyone has worked out that we didn’t go to this competition with the main goal of winning. The idea this year was the same as the idea last year, and the year before that: give an interesting performance that one could are proud of.

I am also sure that by now people are doing what they always do with WBC videos. Watching, seeing the mistakes and asking how come they won despite these errors. This is the wrong way round. Every performance has its mistakes, and they are easy to find if you go looking for them. People seem to wilfully miss what made them stand out. Gwilym’s performance was exceptionally risky, assuming there was the potential to lose something important. To me it was entertaining, thought provoking and fun. Liz Clayton, as always, writes wonderfully here.

Gwilym Davies, United Kingdom – 2009 WBC Finals from nick cho on Vimeo.

With all of the last three winning performances available online I hope people will watch them and look for what connects them. The last three years have produced three very different champions, but I think there are strong commonalities in the performances.  1  I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts.

Watching a friend compete terrifies me. I’d rather be on stage performing. Sadly this meant that I couldn’t even watch through gaps in my fingers, and had to run away and hide on the SCAA show floor while he performed. I am such a wuss. It isn’t that I don’t have any faith, it is just that I can no longer take the rollercoaster of emotions. There should be a support group for coaches/support teams during the performances.

One final note on the performance – whenever I watched it in rehearsals I was always really excited to see what the judges would pick. The combinations were always interesting and potentially tasty. I think if we had had more time we could also have worked it up to being maybe 6 different choices per judge, which would have been crazy but awesome. I was weirdly disappointed in the choices of the judges, though I don’t really know why. Maybe I was hoping they’d pick something we hadn’t done in practice.  2

Gwilym will be a great champion. He’s been an ambassador of coffee for a long time – he’s been out there converting people, making them excited about great coffee, giving lots of people that ‘a-ha!’ moment for years now. His interest in others is genuine, he’s knowledgeable and very approachable, no ego (yet – it happens to us all) and a healthy interest in twill woven materials. 3

Check the reflection
Check the reflection

The rest of the competition was great.  Not just the performances, but the people. It is great how quickly and easily conversation and friendship comes when you only see someone once a year to geek out about coffee and get angry about nerdy things.

My journey home was a bit of a mixed bag. I had to leave Sunday night, and they took so long to get to the announcements that I had to flee and got the results in the cab via twitter and a bajillion text messeages. I tried to change my flight and was told it would be a mere $1,800. I stuck with my flight. Which was three hours delayed. So I missed my connection and got stuck in Chicago, and told the next flight would be in 21 hours. Time to kill.

After a boring stay in a weird hotel, charging my phone off the usb port in the business suite because BA had lost my luggage, I headed into town. First stop was the place I’d heard so many shoutouts to – Intelli’s Broadway shop where Mike Phillips works. It was great – being an anonymous customer, ordering some coffee and sitting in the nerdiest spot and just watching. After about 15 minutes I called Mike. I felt terrible because I’d just woken him up by the sound of things. We chatted for a bit and he very (very) kindly agreed to meet me at the Intelli Roastworks around lunchtime. I have to say that the coffee I had there was the Anjilanaka from a Clover, and it was the first Clover brewed coffee I’d really enjoyed in a long time.

It was great to see Intelli’s roastworks, to catch up with Matt Riddle, but mostly it was great to just sit down and chat with Mike. His perfomances were great, he’s an utterly charming and likeable fellow and I could have talked shop with him for hours on end. I’m grateful to him and Matt for their hospitality during my stay. I really hope to see Mike compete again. I can’t thank him enough for taking the time to drag himself out of bed on a day that can’t have been much fun, to come to work and deal with a nerdy, demanding guest. Thank you.

Now some important stuff – some thank yous. First of all a massive thank you to Shawn from Public Market Coffee in Minneapolis for loaning us his Anfim for the competition. We can’t thank you enough, it made a world of difference to have a grinder we knew well, and a massive thank you to Keith for lugging it with him on the plane. There will be many things heading your way in the mail soon.

Thanks also to the lovely guys at Slayer for loaning us a grinder too, to allow Gwilym to serve two very delicious coffees to his judges. Sorry I didn’t really get a chance to get onto the show floor to have a play!

Thanks to everyone who came by the roastery and mock judged, offered their ideas and criticisims and their constructive feedback – both for the UK and for the WBC. It was incredibly useful and giving up your time and your ideas for free was incredibly generous.

Thanks to Chris and M’lissa Owens for buddying, helping and being (as always) utterly amazing, dependably awesome and working way harder than we had any right to ask of them.

Thanks to Octane peoples for setting the bar ridiculously high for hospitality and splendidness during a WBC.

Thanks to everyone who helped. It is and was appreciated, and I will stop listing names now for fear of trying to be exhaustive but missing someone out.

I know I’ve missed loads out but if I don’t post something now then I never will!

  1. That isn’t a smug allusion to Anette’s skills at sourcing and roasting coffee – more about the performances themselves – though it would be remiss of me not to point out that she totally rocks!  ↩︎
  2. I know that sounds foolish, but the constant novelty of the drink really appealled to me!  ↩︎
  3. However I suspect his patience with the questions about living on a boat may start to wear thin.  I am sure if people kept asking me if I really lived in a flat then I’d go postal pretty quickly….  ↩︎

8 Comments

  1. The final few words were quite thought provoking and IMO worth going overtime for, it may change the way some people treat espresso. Well done to Gwilym and the rest of the team.

  2. I agree James, I think Gwilym will make a great champion. I hope that he can find a way to really enjoy the year, and get some benefit in terms of travel and all of that, and not be too tied to his coffee cart. My brief encounter with him in Atlanta was so genuine, and he truly was a man in whom I found no guile. Thanks for taking the time to invest in a man who simply wanted to compete for the love of the coffee. The truth is that we all have so much to learn from each other, and as we share, collaborate, and work together to grow this wonderful world of coffee, we all win.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to invest in a man who simply wanted to compete for the love of the coffee. The truth is that we all have so much to learn from each other, and as we share, collaborate, and work together to grow this wonderful world of coffee, we all win.

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