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Really... Alternative Milks in WBC ?

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

If you didn’t already know, up until December 2022, the WBC required baristas to compete with dairy milk. In its 2022 rules, it stipulated that when preparing a milk-based beverage, competitors must use “a combination of a single shot of espresso and steamed cow’s milk”.


The World Barista Championship (WBC) is the most prestigious coffee competition in the world, providing a platform for the best baristas to showcase their skills and creativity. The competition has been instrumental in shaping the speciality coffee industry by promoting new trends, and innovation, and providing a platform for the best baristas to showcase their abilities.


The shift towards plant-based milk alternatives has been driven by several factors, including ethical concerns, health benefits, and environmental sustainability. Plant-based milk alternatives are typically lower in saturated fat and calories than cow's milk and are also lactose-free, making them an ideal choice for people with dietary restrictions or intolerances. Additionally, many consumers prefer plant-based milk alternatives because they are produced in a more environmentally sustainable way. One in four milk beverages are being made on plant based milk here in Australia.


As a coffee professional, my collaboration with Milklab over the past few years has opened my eyes to the growing importance of alternative milk in our industry. Milklab has been at the forefront of this movement. Finally, with consistent lobbying from countries all over the world, SCA has finally sanctioned the use of alternative milk in the Barista Competition - this is HUGE


While the milk beverage accounts for 25% of the points of the total WBC Sensory Score Sheet, 72% of the coffees served in cafés and restaurants in Australia are milk beverages, and one in for of those coffees are made on alternative milks


The inclusion of plant-based milk alternatives in the competition is a significant shift in the industry, indicating a broader trend towards catering to different dietary preferences and increasing accessibility. With plant-based milk alternatives gaining popularity, it is essential for the speciality coffee industry to adapt to changing consumer preferences and offer more options to customers, one in four milk beverages made in cafes are on alternative milk.


While the top baristas not only use “common” milk during competitions but also process the milk in a specific way to create a perfect harmony between the coffee and the milk. Examples like cryodesiccated milk, freeze distilled and even altering the diet of the cow all to create new experiences alongside milk coffee.


This new sanction will allow baristas to experiment with different plant-based milk alternatives, to create unique and innovative coffee experiences The competition provides a platform for baristas to showcase their creativity and explore new possibilities, inevitably driving the development of new and improved plant-based milk alternatives for everyday use in the cafes.


Moreover, the use of plant-based milk alternatives in the WBC competition is expected to provide a significant advantage to baristas who can create the perfect milk alternative. By focusing on developing the best plant-based milk alternatives, baristas can provide options that cater to the changing preferences of coffee consumers.

In conclusion, the inclusion of plant-based milk alternatives in the WBC competition is a significant step towards catering to the changing preferences of coffee consumers. By offering more options and exploring new possibilities, the speciality coffee industry can cater to the changing needs of customers, improve the quality of its products, and increase accessibility to a broader customer base.


Overall I am so happy about this new sanction, driving innovation and development in the industry. The shift towards plant-based milk alternatives is a positive step towards a more inclusive, ethical, and sustainable speciality coffee industry, and I am god damn excited about it.


Who knows, maybe I will have to jump on a barista stage one day.


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