Taiwan is apparently not just the land of most uniquely themed cafes, it now has the world's best coffee taster too. Pang-Yu Liu of Taiwan just won the 2014 World Cup Coffee Tasters Championship held in Melbourne, Australia, from May 15th to 18th. A newbie to the championship, 25-year old Pang-Yu Liu has had only one year of experience in coffee tasting.

The World Cup Coffee Tasters Championship this year has competitors from 37 countries, with each competitor being a champion from his home country. Liu ranked fourth going into the finals and admitted he was nervous. He then went on to defeat fellow competitors Amanda Juris of the United States, Yoeri Joosten of the Netherlands, and Panu Reinikainen of Finland.

In the competition, each coffee taster is given 3 cups each of 8 sets of coffees, where 2 of the 3 cups contained the same coffee. The taster has to identify the odd cup using his /her superior skills in sense and taste and finish the challenge as fast as possible within 8 minutes. It may sound easy, but the World Cup organizers assured us that it is not.

Liu won the championship by successfully distinguishing the tastes in six out of eight sets of coffee varieties within 3 minutes and 48 seconds, while Amanda Juris won second place after identifying 5 sets in 3 minutes and 51 seconds. Right before lifting the final cup to find out the final score, Liu seemed to know he was about to win. He asked his friend to give him the flag of the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) and lifted the cup in triumph. He also cried in happiness.

So how did Liu get into this unique hobby? After finishing his compulsory military service last year, he was sitting at home not doing much. His father encouraged him to learn about coffee tasting, so Liu gave it a try. He must have been naturally gifted, as his father's advice turned out to be a life-changer!

Click on the following photo for the video containing the final competition and the award ceremony. It is an hour long, so I recommend starting at 15:00 for the actual competition. It's interesting to see how they taste the different cups of coffee.

World Cup Coffee Tasters Championship 2014