When I saw my schedule and it said that I was going to Taipei, I could only think of one thing: “That’s the city where the 2016 Barista champion Berg Wu lives. I have got to meet up with him!”
When I arrived in Taipei I already knew that the weather wasn’t going to be fair. Rain and wind would hammer the city during the days that I would be there but little did I know that those two things meant a Typhoon would hit the Island of Taiwan. I had just one-and-a-half day in search of the world’s 2016 Barista champion Berg Wu, and I would do anything to meet up with him.
Chasing the champion: Typhoon Nesat
My quest for this meet-and-greet started at the hotel where the front-desk informed me that I needed to be careful today. The government stated that Typhoon Nesat was on it’s way to hit the mainland of Taiwan at around 8PM that evening. Nesat wouldn’t be a big Typhoon, but that did not mean the city wasn’t on high alert. When I left the hotel they were already putting wooden panels up against the windows.
Because of the time difference I woke up at about 2PM, enough time for me to make a short trip to the home of Champion Berg Wu; The Lobby of Simple Kaffa. Some of my colleagues wanted to join me on my trip and before long we were on our way. It was around 3PM and already the rain and wind were pestering us; our umbrella’s would keep us dry if not for the strong gusts of wind. When we finally arrived at the Lobby of Simple Kaffa it was already dark outside and we were pretty much soaked to the bone. Even though the welcome was friendly and warm, I couldn’t hide my disappointment when I heard that Berg Wu wasn’t in today. Busy as a world champion would be, he was supposed to arrive in Taiwan today but wouldn’t make it to the coffee shop. May be tomorrow. Berg Wu was to give a workshop at the culture and coffee festival in Taipei the next day. Since I had to fly to Manilla the next day at 2PM and Berg Wu’s workshop started at 12PM, I would be able to attend.
Chasing the Champion: 1 casualty and 84 wounded
The Typhoon was closing in and the coffee shop told us they would close up at 6PM that day; people wanted to get home before the Typhoon would hit the city. I have to admit that I got a little nervous too: it was my first Typhoon ever and I didn’t know what to expect at all. Since we did want to grab a bit of dinner we went to a nearby restaurant; the streets we emptied out, all shops were closed early and the only thing you could hear on the streets was the howling wind and slashing rains. Although I expected the worse, the Typhoon did not hit Taipei that hard. There was some debris rolling through the streets, but the mainland got hit way worse with 1 casualty and more that 80 people wounded. By morning the Typhoon left the island and things turned to normal again.
Chasing the champion: Another blow and Rufous coffee
That night I tried to sleep, but time difference played it’s part well and I only fell asleep at 8AM in the morning. When my alarm-clock went off at 11AM I just didn’t had enough sleep to go to the festival AND work the rest of the day. A major disappointment, but my job at the airline comes first and so I decided to get a little extra sleep.
The next day it was time to head home again. We would leave the hotel at about 9PM and I woke up at 2Pm. That gave me six hours to meet with Champion Berg Wu. I didn’t have a clue if the champion would be at his coffee shop today but I just had to try. Arriving at The Lobby of Simple Kaffa once more I was welcomed by the champion his friendly wife Chee. Berg Wu wasn’t in but he would be at the coffee shop at 6PM. That would leave me two hours to meet up with him and get back to the hotel to get ready for my trip home. I decided to take the chance and visit Rufous Coffee in the meanwhile.
Rufous Coffee is famous with students but also for it’s home blend coffee: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe mixed with Finca Piesan Tarrazú, Santa Elena El Salvador and Valmar Guatemala beans. A mix that got a mind-blowing 91 points by Coffee Review. Although the Yama coffee, the espresso served at two temperatures and Dry Hopped cold brew coffee at Rufous Coffee were excellent, my mind was occupied with meeting up with the champion. After finishing up I went back to The Lobby of Simple Kaffa but when I arrived there I got some bad news yet again.
Chasing the champion: All ends well
Berg Wu wouldn’t be in at 6PM but an hour later…was I ever going to meet up with him? I decided to grab another coffee and wait it out. After an hour Chee walked up to me and told me her husband arrived. Since they had a busy schedule (who can blame them) they had very little time to chat, and actually needed to leave straight away. This was just my luck; first a Typhoon, then time difference and work preventing me to attend to a workshop and now it was a busy schedule cutting me short. Luckily Berg Wu and his wife are super-nice and still took their time to stay and chat.
I do have to say that I was a little nervous chatting to the champion himself, but that went away pretty quickly while noticing Berg Wu is humble and relaxed. We chatted a little about his victory, family-life and his busy schedule. When they finally had to leave I accompanied them a short while on their way before saying goodbye. We agreed to set up a meeting for next time so we could do a proper interview and spend some more time chatting. For me it was time to rush back to the hotel as well.
I finally made it. I met up with the 2016 World Barista Champion Berg Wu and fulfilled my quest for this trip. Who would have thought that this trip would be all about chasing the champion.