The Hidden Costs of the World Barista Championship

The Hidden Costs of the World Barista Championship

Competing at the World Barista Championship (WBC) involves significant financial and environmental costs. Beyond the tens of thousands of dollars spent on rare coffee, coaches, travel, and equipment, there is a substantial ecological footprint. A recent study by Kaffeemacher, the roastery represented by German competitor Felix Hohlmann, calculated that their participation in the 2024 WBC produced 24.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This staggering figure surpasses the emissions from the company’s entire 2022 roasting operation, which processed more than 60 tonnes of coffee. The bulk of these emissions (93%) came from airline travel for a five-person team, contributing 22.6 tonnes of CO2. This is particularly alarming given Kaffeemacher's extensive efforts to minimize their ecological impact across all levels of coffee production. The findings highlight a pressing issue in the specialty coffee industry, which claims to prioritize sustainability. While there are no easy solutions, acknowledging and addressing the environmental cost of such competitions is an essential first step.

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