World Coffee Championships. Photo: Specialty Coffee AssociationThe World of Coffee in Berlin lasted three days, yet I feel like even with all that time, I was barely able to scratch the surface of the show. This international coffee expo took place June 6–8 in the Messe Center on Berlin’s west side and filled three large halls with more coffee than I could ever sample, the newest in coffee technology, informational booths, and even some non-coffee beverages.
Some of my personal highlights were cupping coffees from India and Myanmar, origins I had never tried coffee from before; seeing the 2019 World Brewers Champion Du Jianing make the perfect pour over; watching milk foam turn into dragons and koalas at the World Latte Art Championship; and sipping on cups of the famed Panama Gesha coffees.
After drinking more coffee in a couple hours than I usually do in a week, I was ready for some lattes and non-coffee drinks. I generally only drink black coffee, but visited the Oatly latte bar more than once and welcomed the toasty oat milk flavor accenting my espresso. I also had a delicious chai from Black Sense, a German company that makes bio chai syrup. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the canned nitro coffee drink from Minor Figures (I’m generally wary of coffee from a can), which came in black, latte with oat milk, and mocha. I may have grabbed a few cans to start my mornings before the long S-Bahn ride to the Messe Center.
And of course, there were the competitions. It felt hard to take the time to sit and watch given how much there was to do, see, and taste, but I did get to see some of the winning sets, including Italian Manuela Fensore at the Latte Art competition and Russian Sergey Blinnikov at the Cezve/Ibrik championships.
I also spent a lot of time at the lectures. These took place throughout the days and were on a range of subjects from branding techniques to the history of coffee, but the majority focused on the two biggest crises facing coffee: low prices and climate change. Indeed, climate change felt like the giant elephant in the room (or the three rooms, as it were). Among the rows of experts slurping coffee from round spoons and brewers pouring water slowly over delicately ground beans loomed large the issues farmers were facing in far away countries, how they were faring, and what techniques they’re using to grow and harvest their crop.
While roasters did talk about the specific families who provided them their beans, it also sometimes felt like I was attending two expos instead of one: the first focusing on climate change and low prices, and the second on expertly designed hand grinders and colorful coffee-themed socks. Thinking about the farmers struggling in places like Guatemala or Uganda, it was hard to imagine that much of what I saw had anything to do with those stakeholders.
In addition, I was disappointed that the expo did not provide reusable cups for coffee tasting. I can’t even begin to count the number of mini paper cups I threw out in the course of those three days. While a few companies on display, such as Cup for Cup and Weducer Cup, focused on reusable cups, I was surprised that such a large expo did not provide any cups themselves. I imagine it would be feasible to provide each attendee with a small cup that they could rinse and reuse, but instead every company was responsible for bringing sleeves of paper cups that went in the trash after each espresso shot. One roaster, Berlin-based Fjord Coffee Roasters, did bring some very small porcelain espresso cups, and once I got my hands on one, I was able to use it over and over at different booths. But companies that came from further away could not do that, and it seemed like it would have made sense for the expo itself to have provided reusable cups.
Overall, it was a really amazing experience. I saw and tried and learned about more facets of coffee than I ever have before, and my appreciation for this special beverage and how people grow it and brew is as stronger than ever. I hope that along with focusing on the best roasts, brewing techniques, and blends, everyone in the coffee industry puts at least as much effort into dealing with the problems of low prices and climate change, and are able to communicate to consumers the true value of the coffee they drink every day.
2019 Best New Product Winners
- Nexus One by Aremde, Commercial Coffee or Tea Preparation and Serving Equipment
- the Barista Pro, Model #SES878 by Sage, Consumer Coffee or Tea Preparation and Serving Equipment (Electrical)
- Cafflano Go-Brew (Portable Brewing Bottle) by BeansCorp Co, Consumer Coffee or Tea Preparation and Serving Equipment (Non-Electrical)
- Coffee Tasting Cups TC1 by Espro, Coffee Accessories
- Green Tea Concentrate by Monin, Specialty Beverage
- Pono 2019 by Savor Brands, Packaging
- Moon Brew by Lot Sixty One, Open Class
- Syncfo 4 in 1 Universal Coffee Analyzer by Krator Technology, Technology
In addition, the judges awarded two honorable mentions:
- TOUCH 02 by Tone, Commercial Coffee or Tea Preparation and Serving Equipment
- Flair Signature PRO – Black by Flair Espresso, Consumer Coffee or Tea Preparation and Serving Equipment (Non-Electrical)
2019 Design Lab Winners
- Carrow Coffee Roastery, designed by Carrow Coffee Roasters, Spaces Category
- Champion’s Signature Collection, Ben Sutton x Loveramics x Playset Coffee, Vessels Category
- SIMPLo, Packaging Category
- Café Nahual, Branding Category
2019 World Latte Art Championship
- Manuela Fensore, Barlady Café Academy, Italy
- Hao-Yuan Chen, Independent, Taiwan
- Lou Guoqiang, Sanshierli Academy, China
- Oneway Dash, Oneway, South Korea
- Hiroki Ito, Sarutahiko Coffee, Japan
- Peter Chan, Coco Espresso, Hong Kong
2019 World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship
- Dan Fellows, Origin Coffee, United Kingdom
- Tim Lam Wing Fat, Cupping Room Coffee Roasters, Hong Kong
- Agnieszka Rojewska, Independent, Poland
- Manos Mamakis, The Underdog Roasters, Greece
- Nicole Battefeld, Röstätte Berlin, Germany
- Arnon Thitiprasert, Ristr8to, Thailand
2019 World Cup Tasters Champion
- Daniel Horbat, Coffee Laboratory, Ireland
- Dajo Aertssen, Coffee Makers, France
- Josh Clarke, Clifton Coffee Roasters, United Kingdom
- Dulce Barrera, Bella Vista Coffee, Guatemala
- Sergey Blinnikov, Cezve Coffee, Russia
- Tatiana Tarykina, Svit Kavy, Ukraine
- Sinan Muslu, Independent, Germany
- Filip Valentin, Bob Coffee Lab, Romania
- Dimitris Karampas, A.V.E.K., Greece
- Koray Erdogdu, Probador Colectiva, Turkey
Stephanie Parker is an American freelance journalist based in Switzerland.