It is considered the main event of the WCE. It is called World Barista Championship. How accurate is that description?
Barista is considered the man who is making coffee with a respectable knowledge background. The profesional that can brew his coffee, according to his targeted taste. He can make adjustments on the fly, knows the background of his coffee etc... I don't even bother to describe a top-notch barista. But everything is around this little magic bean, is barista's field.
The Barista Championship now... How it is structured. Three beverages, all of them are espresso or espresso based. Unbroken rule! This is my first objection. A barista isn't making just espresso. A barista brews coffee with over 5 different methods, he uses ibrik, he uses full-immersion methods, multiple filter methods etc. A barista uses all methods to make coffee, not just espresso. Maybe the correct name for this kind of competition, would be World Espresso Competition. In that way, you elevate the value of World Brewers Cup, even Ibrik! Or(!) you keep the name and you change the rules about the signature beverage (my second objection)!
Let's analyze the idea of the signature beverage and the result. An espresso based beverage, no-alcohol, no-food, with a recipe that compliments the espresso. All these years I see more or less, the same things. The majority of the signature beverages that were served in the competitions, didn't offer anything actually in the Speciality Coffee Industry. The beverages that really stood out, were about innovation on coffee. Our expertise! For example, we still talk about Perger's performance and he didn't even win! We are not pastry-chefs, not cook-chefs, not even mixologists. Our expertise is coffee! It is dishonest to present a delicious beverage, unbeatable in taste, that has nothing to say about making a good coffee and the barista that makes it, took advices from his chef-friend or mixologist-friend... Or, if he has indeed pastry or cook knowledge-background, maybe he is not so "hard-core" barista. Sure there are exceptions, but still exceptions to the rule.
What I want to say. Why the signature beverage cannot be an alternative brew method of coffee? Even when baristi try to make a beverage with an extra brew method, they are obligated to use atleast one shot of espresso. I am sure a lot of ideas lost, due to this rule. Because their idea, with the espresso inside the glass, wasn't the same.
My opinion is that the signature beverage, should be more flexible and more coffee-friendly. What I mean coffee-friendly? Coffee-making wise. Better ways to brew coffee, or even better, new ways to brew coffee! Innovation and new knowledge should be the goal of Barista Championships. Not just the taste of a beverage that has nothing to offer to the industry, except the joy of the four sensory judges in that specific moment.