[Photo via VCG]
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee is wafting through the air ahead of the 2023 Café Show China, which took place in Beijing on September 1. The three-day event, attracting 260 exhibitors and 48,000 visitors from China and abroad, is a celebration of the nation's burgeoning coffee culture.
With a 10-year-long history, the show has become one of the most important events of its kind. This year's event will feature key players and innovators in the Chinese coffee market, including green coffee traders, roasters and other industry stakeholders. Government and business representatives from top coffee-producing countries such as Colombia, Ethiopia and Jamaica will attend the event. There will also be a forum to share their insights about China's growing taste for coffee.
Besides, there will be several contests held during the Café Show focusing on latte art, hand brewing and coffee cupping and tasting by baristas across the country. With China's relationship with the beloved bean evolving at a fast pace in recent years, the standard of the industry has continued to grow.
The World Barista Championship's (WBC) China finals concluded recently, with the winner ready to represent China to compete in the World Barista Championship, the preeminent international coffee competition hosted by World Coffee Events (WCE).
The journey began in 2003 when the Shanghai Bohua International Exhibition Co., Ltd. (IM Sinoexpo), with authorization from World Coffee Events, introduced the championship to China.
"The story of coffee in China is a fascinating one," Zhang Xueqiang, general manager of the IM Sinoexpo, told the Global Times.
Zhang noted the initial challenges were numerous, from gathering participants to training judges.
"As the organizer in China, we had to go door to door to these coffee shops to invite them to participate in the championship. We managed to talk 20 people into attending the championship. I even had to be a judge myself since we could only find less than five judges in 2003," he recalled.
Two decades later, the event has seen hundreds of participants, with finalists across the country vying for the coveted title. These elite baristas will showcase their expertise, from crafting the perfect espresso to innovatively pairing coffee with diverse ingredients, Zhang said.
In addition to WBC, five other world championship events by WCE have attracted more than 3,000 participants in China this year. Some baristas even flew across the country just to secure a spot in the championship.
"The expansion of world competition in China, the growing passion of coffee professionals and enthusiasts toward such events is a testament to the industry's remarkable transformation in China," commented Zhang.
Looking ahead, Zhang believes that more and more talented baristas from China will take the stage.
It's more than the contests. It is a toast to China's rich, diverse and inclusive culture. As the baristas pour their passion into each cup, they're not just serving coffee, they're narrating China's coffee tale, one brew at a time, Zhang said.