World Coffee Events has announced that Mahlkoenig will be the Official and Exclusive grinder provider to the World Barista Championships (WBC) in 2016 and 2017. Mahlkoenig will provide 30 K30 Vario grinders to the 2016 WBC in Dublin and make them available for national competitors to use for preparation prior to the event. The K30 will be used alongside the compulsory Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine. “The espresso machines used at the World Barista Championships have always been the same models for each competitor,” said Mahlkoenig, in a statement. “By using the same espresso grinder as well, the complete technical set-up will be the same throughout the competition – which will definitely intensify the focus on what finally determines between victory or defeat: the taste and the aroma of the specialty coffee and the talent and passion of the barista.” WCE has also announced that after 15 years of using a single definition of a milk drink on the WBC stage, they are opening up the milk beverage course. Starting in 2016, a milk beverage will be defined as a hot beverage, made from a single shot of espresso and steamed milk. Competitors will have more flexibility to choose the coffee-to-milk ratio. The news has been met with mixed reviews. “The freedom to choose the volume of the drink will promote laziness and could result in the stagnation of Roasting and Barista technique,” 2011 and 2014 Australian Barista Champion Matt Perger wrote on his blog, The Barista Hustle, this week. “The ability to use less milk in the milk course reduces the responsibility of the roaster to improve development and the Barista to improve [his or] her technique.” Furthermore, Perger wrote that he believed opening up the definition for the Milk Course would increase judging subjectivity and bias. “There are myriad ways prejudice, bias and error can affect a judge’s scores. By opening up the definition of the Milk Course to ‘anything’, it will be even harder for judges to score Baristas accurately and fairly compared to one another,” wrote Perger. “Without a worldwide and influential competition like WBC dictating what cappuccinos are, and celebrating them through inclusion in the rules, they could become few and far between.” Perger wrote that he believed a compulsory grinder would level the playing field. WCE said additional changes will be announced on the world stage in Seattle, directly preceding the WBC finalist announcements on 11 April, 2015, as well as throughout the coming year.