Introducing the 2023 World Barista Championship Competitors: Part 6

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In advance of the WBC event on June 21–24, we introduce the champions from South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

FROM STAFF REPORTS
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY WORLD COFFEE EVENTS

The ancient city of Athens, Greece, will be the backdrop for the 2023 World Barista Championship on June 21–24, at the World of Coffee event. Forty-eight national champions from around the world will take the stage to compete for the ultimate coffee championship title.

In the run-up to the World Barista Championship, we will showcase these champions here at Barista Magazine Online in the alphabetical order of their countries. (Here are parts one, two, three, four, and five of this series.) Today, meet the champions of South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

SOUTH KOREA

DONGHWAN DONG
CBSC INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD.

South Korean barista champion Donghwan Dong prepares espresso behind a machine during a barista competition.
South Korean barista champion Donghwan Dong worked for a decade to reach the World Barista Championship.

“I have competed in national competitions for 10 years, and I have been working for one company for 10 years. I discovered the barista competition in 2011, and from then on, it took me 10 years to reach the World Barista Championship, a dream stage I’ve been longing for.“

SWEDEN

LAKIS PSOMAS
NESTLE PROFESSIONAL

Lakis Psomas reviews his competition set up prior to participating in a barista competition.
Like many specialty-coffee professionals, Lakis Psomas of Sweden says he started working in coffee before he knew anything about coffee.

“I work as coffee expert at Nestle Professional. (It’s my) first time competing in (a) barista (championship). Challenging myself and learning more about coffee. I started with coffee without knowing anything about coffee. With dreams of becoming my own entrepreneur, I opened a small location nearby a subway station in Stockholm, Sweden, and started to serve coffee and pastries.“

SWITZERLAND

CHRIS SOTIROS
NESTLE PROFESSIONAL

Chris Sotiros poses in front of a table with his arms crossed and smiles at the camera. On the table behind him are an espresso machine and a grinder.
Swiss barista champion Chris Sotiros loves the learning and camaraderie that he finds at barista competitions like the World Barista Championship.

“Working for Nestlé Professional global coffee team, responsible for building coffee capabilities and expertise across markets. Product and system R&D for coffee and AST trainer. Competitions are always part of my job that I’m passionate about, mainly because I get to work with great people and stretch myself to the limits of learning new things. I like to approach competitions as a great opportunity to inspire new people to join the world of coffee and always present something new and realistic to be applied in our daily jobs to elevate the consumer experience, as everyone deserves a good cup of coffee. A fun fact is that every year during backstage, I always say to myself, ’This is the last time,’ and every time the moment I finish my routine on stage, I start thinking of the next one. :)“

TAIWAN

HAO-YUAN (RICHARD) CHEN
HYC COFFEE STUDIO

Hao-Yuan Chen pours steamed milk from a pitcher into a cup as he creates milk drinks during a barista competition.
Hao-Yuan (Richard) Chen placed second in the World Latte Art Championship in 2019 before switching to compete in barista competitions.

“Hello, I am Richard from Taiwan. I am the owner of HYC COFFEE STUDIO. The reason why I am interested in coffee is because I studied restaurant and hotel management when I was in college. I have attended coffee competitions for seven years. Most of the competitions I attended before are latte art competitions. After winning second place of 2019 World Latte Art Championship in Berlin, I decided to participate (in the) barista competition. My goal is to make not only good-looking but also delicious coffee. I do really like to attend coffee competition because it’s a great opportunity to improve coffee brewing skill and make new friends in coffee industry.“

THAILAND

JANE VERAWORAWET
FIKA & CO.

Jane Veraworawet pours steamed milk from a pitcher into a white ceramic cup to create latte art.
After grinding through the pandemic, Thai barista champion Jane Veraworawet found a new enthusiasm for coffee through barista competitions.

“I’m currently operating manager and co-founder at Fika & Co. (coffee shop), which is located in Asok, Bangkok. This is my first year competing. (I’m) so excited! It started last year (2022). After facing a pandemic, I ran out of passion to work in a café. Then, I decided to compete to learn things, improve, and challenge myself. So, this is why (I compete): to be inspired and inspire. Fun fact! Since I was a kid, I’ve (been) in love with bakery and pastry before. I dreamed about owning and running a café shop. But after coffee everything has CHANGED. Now, (I’ve) become a barista in (a) coffee shop not (a) café. LOL.“

TURKEY

SULEYMAN RIFAT YALCIN
LOT COFFEE ROASTERY

Suleyman Rifat Yalcin holds a basket with red, ripe coffee cherries in it while standing in front of a coffee plant.
Suleyman Rifat Yalcin competed in the Turkish national barista competition three times before he won it.

“This is Suleyman Rifat from Turkiye, and I work for Lot Coffee Roastery. I have been competing in national barista championships for three years and previously won fourth place in 2021 and third place in 2022. Every coffee experience creates a unique journey, and that motivates me to find something new and deliver it to my friends and customers. As a barista, a customer’s smile after a delicious coffee gives me indescribable satisfaction. We have a pastry in Turkey named ’Simit,’ and for me, it is hard to start a day without it and a piece of cream cheese. I started my career as a part-time barista during my studentship. After graduation, I decided to continue my career as a barista because I really love it.“

Stay tuned to Barista Magazine Online as we introduce all 48 National Barista Champions set to take the stage at the 2023 World Barista Championship in Athens, Greece, June 21–24!

The cover of the June + July 2023 issue of Barista Magazine featuring Martin Shabaya of Kenya.

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Source: Barista Magazine

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