Last month a few of the CMCR team packed their suitcases, jumped on the first flight to Seoul and headed over to the Café Show 2017 to find out what’s brewing in the Specialty Coffee world, as well as cheer on our national coffee heroes in the World AeroPress and World Barista Champs. Here’s a little run down of their top five and some words from both the Singapore and Malaysia AeroPress National Champs, on their experiences of competition on the national stage.
Number 5 – Coffee & Café Culture in Seoul/South Korea
The coffee culture, expectations and drinking habits in Seoul, and if we can be so bold, South Korea in general are quite different from Singapore, and perhaps from the rest of the world. Whilst corporate giants may have received a warm welcome, it’s the design-forward specialty coffee roasters that are really making the noise here.
Of all the cafes we visited on this trip our favourites followed the roastery, bakery, bar and retail space model – bringing a unique yet homely vibe to our drinking experience. Our faves where – Fritz, Mr Holms, Momos Café, Coffee Loves Him, Centre Coffee and Onions.We may also have eaten our body weigh in pastries…every day, been hitting the treadmill pretty hard since we got back to make up for this trip!
Number 4 – Korean Food
Ok so not strictly coffee related but we couldn’t talk about our trip without mentioning the food!! Street food is a big part of Korean life – how sad would life be without an Eomuk Fish Cake stick? Or a steaming pot of topoki? And no trip to Korea would be complete without a plate of Korean Fried Chicken washed down with HITE. We could go on but it would make you too hungry…
Number 3 – New Gear & Beans
There was a great turn out to this year’s expo, with many local and international brands putting on such a good show with exciting booths and the launch of new products.
***Coffee geek moment alert*** we got to touch the Nuova Simonelli Mythos 2, La Marzocco LEVA machine (those levers!), the BKON Craft brewer and what really got us going, the Giesen W140A Roaster. This bad boy is able to roast 140kgs per batch – what a whopper! It was also a great to see Specialty Coffee in action with so many producers and farmers from different regions here to promote their green beans.
One of our particular favourites was the Panama booth where we met one of the Lamastus Family who produced our delicious El Burro and Luito Geisha beans. Get some before it’s all gone, we’re nearly down to the last bag.
Number 2 – World Barista Champs
One of the main highlights of the expo was the World Barista Championships. Over 60 National Barista champs from around the world battled it out, pouring their way to the coveted title. After a nail biting competition, Dale Harris of Hasbean Coffee, UK was crowned king.
It was a great atmosphere and the guys from Ediya Coffee put on a great show, as did the MCs who made the event thrilling and full of excitement. It wasn’t Singapore’s year unfortunately, but there is always next!
Number 1 – World AeroPress Champs
Two words…FREE BEER! But really, it was amazing to see the nations come together over coffee – as cliché as that sounds! It was a tight battle, with our local talents Hui Zhen Tan (Malaysian Champ) and Jerald Teng (Singapore Champ) putting up a good fight, but ultimately it was the Brits’ night with a wildcard entry for Paulina Miczka who pressed her way to gold. Loved the jumper Paulina!
And, that’s our wrap-up. We brought back many memories, widened stomachs and suitcases stuffed full amazing coffee which we’ll be drinking for weeks – Seoul you did a great job!
We’ll leave the last words to the two AreoPress Champs we took on the road with us, as they tell us what their biggest learning was from the whole experience:
Hui Zhen Tan: If there's one thing to take away from the experience, it is definitely that success does not come without hard work. I wished that I had practiced more before the competition! However, I can say with confidence that this competition is one of the best things that's ever happened in 2017. I’m a relatively inexperienced barista but I was encouraged to take the leap of faith and take part in the Nationals for Malaysia; it has made me realise that you should believe in yourself and don't be afraid to do things out of your comfort zone :D
Jerald Teng: The biggest learning I’ve taken away from this experience is to see how I’ve grown as a coffee maker, it’s a real eye opening for me.