Mahlkoenig continues its winning WCE partnership

Every barista has their favoured approach to getting the perfect espresso. They will have favourite machines, favourite types of bean, and of course they will have their own battle-worn tamper. But if there is one thing that all baristas are united in believing, it is the importance of freshness in coffee. This carries through every stage of the storage and handling of the bean, but no stage is more critical to the flavour in the cup than grinding. Once the coffee bean is broken down for extraction, it is a matter of minutes before it starts to lose its flavour. This is because coffee is a volatile substance, adjusting very quickly to its surroundings. When it is whole, the coffee bean forms a great protection against the degrading influence of oxygen. However once it has been ground, the oils and aromas contained within the bean are rapidly released, leaving the coffee stale and sour tasting if not used quickly. It is for this reason that the use of grind-on-demand technology, whereby each individual dose of coffee is ground immediately before it is extracted, is so popular in the specialty coffee industry, and particularly in the competition space. It is against this backdrop that World Coffee Events (WCE) and Mahlkoenig announced the continuation of their long-standing partnership until 2017. Mahlkoenig has been the official grinder sponsor at all of the WCE Competitions since 2009. Their machines have been used by the world’s best coffee makers at the World Barista, Latte Art, Coffee in Good Spirits, Cup Tasters, Coffee Roasting, Ibrik/Cezve Championships, and the World Brewers Cup. Laura Lee, who is the Director of Business at WCE, says her organisation considers a range of factors before deciding on which companies’ names are associated with their competitions. “The World Barista Championship has, throughout the course of the past 15 years, helped set worldwide standards of coffee preparation through the reach of the competition across 54 sanctioned national bodies,” she says. “All candidates considered for equipment sponsorships must meet exacting technical standards set and tested by WCE. The prevailing sponsor, however, also demonstrates a superior commitment to advance specialty coffee and support baristas at the national and world level.” At the 2015 World Barista Championships (WBC), which were held in Seattle in April, competitors were able to choose from Mahlkoenig’s K30 Twin, K30 Vario, and EK43 grind-on-demand espresso grinders. These machines all feature electronically controlled, variable programming for exact portioning as well as stepless grind adjustment for a high level of flexibility. For each of these machines, grinding time is less than two seconds for seven grams of espresso, giving competitors more time to concentrate on their presentation to the judges. Jochen Christoph, Mahlkoenig’s Chief Financial Officer, tells GCR Magazine that the partnership between his company and WCE has the makings of the great competition and equipment partnerships that we are used to seeing in the world of sport. “For more than 40 years, Adidas has been providing the match ball for all world soccer championships and Slazenger has been the official supplier of tennis balls to The Championships in Wimbledon since 1902,” Christoph says. “Whenever champions meet, they deserve the best equipment to perform on the highest level possible. This is how we got in touch with WCE to become sponsor for WBC and national chapter events.” However, Christoph says, the benefits of this relationship go both ways. “We also benefit from this cooperation,” he says. “It gives us access to the leading baristas worldwide, so we can listen to their needs and requirements and take the next steps in product development. It provides us unfiltered feedback about the performance of our grinders.” The current Korean Barista Champion, Jong Hoon Lee, says he relies on grind-on-demand technology for competitions, as well as his day-to-day coffee making. “The grinder is very important when the barista extracts coffee because this is the most important step in extracting the flavour and aroma,” Lee says. He says that this is what sets grind-on-demand technology apart from the traditional dose grinder. “The biggest difference between those grinders is aroma loss,” he says. “Aroma is the one of the most important aspects of specialty coffee, so it stands to reason that it is hard to expect good coffee without good aroma.” Lee cites the Mahlkoenig K30 twin as his favourite machine for its convenience and the high quality of its grind. The machine features hands-free operation and fans for each grinder, so the grounds are not heated during grinding. Each of the twin grinders can be used at the same time, to allow for greater turnover in busy coffee shops, or to provide separate grinding options for different beans simultaneously. Mahlkoenig’s Christoph says that the proliferation of grind-on-demand machines in specialty coffee shops is testament to their superior qualities. “We believe – and with us leading baristas of the global specialty coffee community – that solely our grind-on-demand technology paves the way to make every cup of coffee the best. The result can be found on top of the bar.” At the 2016 World Barista Championships, to be held in Dublin, Mahlkoenig will increase the level of its partnership with WCE, becoming the exclusive supplier of grinders for the WBC qualified equipment kit. “Every competing barista will then perform with the equal set of equipment, such as no tennis player can bring his own tennis balls to Wimbledon to make the difference,” Christoph says. “The success of a World Barista Champion will then be, more than ever, the result of their ability to perform with virtuosity with the coffee, coffee grinder, and coffee machine.” WCE’s Lee says the benefits of this arrangement will be practical as well as theoretical. “The provision of a standard qualified kit focuses the competition back to its original ethos: coffee quality and barista skills,” she says. “It levels the playing field for those involved by allowing access to standard equipment both at the national and world level. And, a practical benefit is the time, effort, and money it saves for national champions who will no longer need to travel long distances with their equipment.” But, Mahlkoenig’s Christoph adds, this new level of cooperation will extend beyond simply supplying the machines for every competitor to use. “We will not leave the baristas on their own during the road to WBC 2016 in Dublin,” he says. “We offer our support in multiple ways, from providing training equipment to product training. And more than ever, we want to listen to our customers and learn about their needs and requirements for making even better Mahlkoenig grinders in the future. This is fully in line with WBC’s way to inspire specialty coffee professionals in their quest to learn, grow, and collaborate for the betterment of the specialty coffee industry.” GCR

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