Places and Faces

London In Review

It was an odd few days, a very different WBC to last year’s. The atmosphere at the show was simultaneously wonderfully convivial and at times disconcertingly surreal. I found my mind switching between awe at the assembled talent and resources, and reeling against what I hope most will forgive me for calling the sometimes boderline absurdity of this subculture. It is a happy kind of absurdity I must add.

I first met Mike Phillips in Atlanta at WBC ’09, and I thought he delivered then a performance worthy of winning a WBC, and another year may well have done so. It was inspirational and original. Mike, personally, is hugely skilled, excessively humble, without a trace of arrogance for which, given his expertise most would readily forgive, and I’m delighted that one of the few competitors who could compare to Gwilym Davies on those levels will carry on the mantle.

As for Colin’s performance, I am enormously proud to be able to claim him as a friend. His performance was not only original, and inspiring, but it was also staggeringly brave and important. I do expect it to spark a discussion on water, which is much overdue. Similar to Mike’s 09 performance, I also feel Colin’s performance was worthy of winning a WBC, and another year, probably would have done so.

I have for my part to thank Steve Leighton, Paul Stack, Shane Pender, and Colin Harmon for getting me focused for the cupping competition. Steve provided a slew of coffees to challenge my abilities, Paul and Shane setup the triangles, and Colin provided some stiff competition. Thanks guys. I am indebted.

I drank beautiful coffee from Intelligentsia, Da Matteo, Counter Culture, Hasbean, Coffee Angel, Square Mile and Tim Wendelboe at the Brew Bar. I had Gwilym Davies and Charles Babinski make me espresso and capps on the espresso bar. David Schomer even pulled me a shot on the La Marzocco stand on the new Strada. Every beautiful coffee reminded me of why we do this, why what might seem absurd and excessive to someone unfamiliar, can be justified by us without too much difficulty.

More than all this though, I left London I suppose with renewed inspiration, not only from Mike and Colin, from Steve and Paul, but from John and Oda, from Ben and Barrett, from Vince and Rasmus. These individuals along with dozens of others are changing the coffee world from their own corner. Knowing that fills me with ample optimism for coffee’s continued evolution, and for delights yet to come.


5 thoughts on “London In Review

  1. Andrew Duncan says:

    I couldnt have put it better.

    I leave this week both inspired and humbled by the talent and passion I have had the pleasure of encountering over the past few days.

    Thank you all.

  2. i watched you with more than some awe taking 2nd in the world cup-tasting. Awe-some. Awesome, a most overused word, which should be reserved for your abilities and humility. Great Post

  3. The ‘borderline absurdity of the subculture’ – very well put. I have spent ages trying to describe exactly the same thing to the vast number of coffee people who have no interest in this aspect of the business… and will from now on add your comment to my explanations!

    Best wishes
    -Ian B
    Coffee House magazine

  4. Cuth Bland says:

    oh – something to aspire to 🙂
    if I hadn’t really wanted to be there anyway, this has made me realise I was right.

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