Australia’s Young Baek crowned World Cup Tasters Champion

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Australia’s Young Baek is the 2023 World Cup Tasters Champion.

Young joins Yama Kim, 2018 World Champion, as the only two Australians to have won the competition since its inception in 2016.

Young scored 7/8 cups correctly in the finals round in a time of 4:08 minutes, narrowly beating Mandie Soengkono of Indonesia who placed runner up with a score of 7/8 cups in a time of 5:10 minutes.

Andrii Vasylieve of Ukraine placed third, and Oretis Sfiris of Greece placed fourth in the final round of the World Cup Tasters Championship (WCTC), which took place from 22 to 24 June in Athens, Greece.

“[Winning] means the ‘world’ (pun intended) to me,” Young tells BeanScene.

“The World Champion status means that the journey has just begun. We are blessed in Australia to house so many amazing world champions and I feel so fortunate to be a part of the coffee industry here. I believe this is the time I can finally give back, just like all the mentors and previous champions have done for me. Coffee connects people, and I would love to create a platform to inspire and train the next generation of home brewers and coffee professionals.”

After round one, Young lead the WCTC leader board after correctly guessing 8/8 cups in a time of 3:02. In the Quarterfinals, he moved to seventh position, correctly guessing 7/8 cups in a time of 4: 35 seconds. In the Semi-Finals, Young moved to second place, correctly guessing 8/8 cups in a time of 6:47 minutes.

“Personally, accuracy is always prioritised over time. Each person found different rounds of the competition harder than the other, however you should always stick to your rhythm and not switch up your protocol/tactics,” Young says.

Before starting his finals round, Young approached the cupping table like an athlete looking to run a 100-metre sprint. He was focused on the task at hand, and upon lifting each of his eight flights of cups, his reaction ranged from sheer relief to disappointment when he got one cup wrong. With his eyes closed and a final deep breath before lifting the final cup, Young knew deep down what the result was going to be.

“I was the most confident with the final cup. But as the suspense kept building up the thoughts of having overlooked it started creeping in. Calming the mind and nerves was the hardest part,” he says.

To decompress from the adrenaline and keep himself grounded throughout the competition, Young went to the beach for a swim after each round. He did the same thing after the final, although added in a celebratory drink.

Young will return to Australia as a new local and international champion and looks forward to working with Breville Australia where he’s been part of the company’s product development team for the past few months.

“I love the products they create and how accessible they are to the growing coffee scene. From beginners to experts, they have something for everyone,” Young says.

In the meantime, Young offers his thanks to the Sydney coffee community and the many roasters, baristas and coffee lovers who believed in him.

“Much love everyone,” he says.

“And thank you to the Australian coffee community for the endless support, I can’t believe we get to bring the trophy home.”

Source: Bean Scene Mag

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