A first for Africa on the World Coffee stage: Congratulations Martin Shabaya!

Thursday, 28 October, 2021

Our other favourite moments of the World Coffee Competitions 2021 was watching Martin Shabaya of Kenya do Africa proud and become the first African Champion to place in the Finals of the World Barista Championships. An historic moment, especially because he did it using Kenyan coffees.

Martin during his Finals Round set. Image: Specialty Coffee Association / Luca Rinaldi & Michele Illuzzi (Specialty Pal)

With so many countries that produce revered coffee enjoyed the world over, it is difficult to believe that Martin is the first African to make the Finals at a WBC, but believe it, because it is true! Well done Martin! We’re so proud!

We were lucky enough to meet Martin at the 2017 competition in Seoul, South Korea when we were there in support of Winston Thomas. Winston his fellow Barista Champion had this to say about his experiences with Martin through the competitions over the years:

"Martin is very soft spoken and unassuming with such a kind smile! Besides our casual encounters at various barista competitions I was fortunate enough to assist with shining his glasses backstage at WBC 2018 before his semi finals set, where he was the first wild card and therefore first African barista in a semi-final. He doesn't let on when he's feeling stressed or anxious, he just continues smiling. But below the surface of the of that calm and somewhat innocent nature is a wealth of coffee knowledge and ample experience on bar."

This year, Martin had the support of 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic and his teams at Project Origin and ONA Coffee, and when you combine the passion of Martin, with the passion of those crazy Aussies (said with love!) then you get some kind of magic! Throw in some gadgets, we're talking temperature gauges over espresso shots and NCT and scales galore, and you get a finalist!!!

See his set below:

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