2018 WAC world final

Sydney, Australia

1st Place: Carolina Ibarra Garay, USA
2nd Place: Xiaobo Zhang, China
3rd Place: Evgeni Pinchukov, Belarus

The 2018 championship was full of firsts. While previous competitions had allowed access to the competition coffee days in advance, this year’s showdown involved an extra challenge — competitors had a mere four-hour timeframe to perfect their recipes using the Mugaya AA, Kenya. And unlike past years, which left spectators dying of curiosity over what the judges tasted on stage, the event funnelled competitors from stage to a Brew Bar where they pressed one last time for the punters. For those fancying espresso, the competition Kenyan was also served on the new LaMarzocco ModBar, which had equipment groupies lining up for a first taste.

The judging panel, comprising of rockstars from La Marzocco, Café Imports, ACME & Seven Seeds, kept the crowd buzzing with their high spirits and unwavering concentration. Wendy De Jong acted as head judge, tasting any coffee that resulted in a tie.

While the head-to-head coffee plunging took place on stage, friends of the competition Rising Sun Workshop, Boon Café and Rocker gave guests from far and wide a true Aussie welcome in the form of a global-inspired sausage sizzle. Their worldly creations were washed down by Moon Dog tinnies, Tippler’s Tap Killer Brown coffee-beer collab, kombucha from The Captain Beard, followed by The Cow & The Moon gelato pavlovas for another taste of Australian culture. Curating the aural mood was ForeignDub’s DJ Blackhawk, who got feet moving to afro beats between rounds and provided an amped-up soundtrack for the madness on stage.

The competition took place in 29 rounds, leading to a final spar between Belarus, China and the USA. In the ring for Australia was Queenslander Isabella Willis, whose spontaneous four-hour drive to regionals has become the stuff of legends. In the end, USA barista Carolina Ibarra Garay took home the gold, with Clay Zhang of China and Evgeni Pinchukov of Belarus winning silver and bronze. Garay, who travelled from in California, was moved to tears by the win, and her final cup was described as standing out for capturing all the complex acidity and citrus, whilst also showcasing an incredible sweetness and syrupy texture.