World of Coffee Busan will host the 2024 World Barista Championship. But why?


At this year’s Specialty Coffee Expo, the Specialty Coffee Association announced it will host its first-ever World of Coffee event in Asia in 2024. In partnership with Exporum, the event will take place from 1 to 4 May in Busan, South Korea. The inaugural World of Coffee Asia event will also host the 2024 World Barista Championship.

Along with the flagship European event in June 2024 and the third edition of the Dubai trade show in January 2024, WoC Busan is sure to attract thousands of international coffee professionals.

However, it’s important to look into why the SCA is hosting the event in this city. And what it could mean for the future of the trade show? Read on to find out more.

You may also like our article on whether the new SCA cupping form & protocol will add more value for specialty coffee.

A growing number of World of Coffee events

Every year, the SCA holds a World of Coffee event in a different European country. This year’s World of Coffee trade show will take place in Athens, Greece from 22 to 24 June.

As well as an extensive trade show, the event features a range of key activities, such as:

Roasters Village

Best New Product and Coffee Design Awards

Green coffee buyers and sellers programme

Lectures, cuppings, and workshops

Moreover, each WoC event also hosts a number of World Coffee Championships, including:

World Barista Championship

World Brewers Cup

World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship

World Roasting Championship

World Cup Tasters Championship

World Cezve/Ibrik Championship

On top of the European event, the SCA also hosts WoC Dubai – “the premier coffee trade show for exhibitors and visitors from the Middle East and beyond”. The first edition was launched in 2022, with another event held in January earlier this year.

It’s certainly clear why the SCA decided to launch an event catered to the Middle Eastern specialty coffee market. Thanks to its rapid economic growth, Dubai is one of the most well-developed specialty coffee markets in the region

The city plays a key role in driving the Middle East’s specialty coffee market forward and is becoming increasingly accessible for overseas coffee business.

Announcing the first-ever World of Coffee Asia event

Following the launch of the Dubai event, the inaugural WoC Asia trade show will take place in Busan, South Korea.

Speaking at the Specialty Coffee Expo last month, SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos said: “We are delighted to bring World of Coffee, our leading coffee trade show, to Asia for the very first time. 

“We are proud to be working with our long-time partners at Exporum on this project, who as our official licensed partner, will produce and deliver a World of Coffee that is tailored to the unique coffee culture in the region,” he said.

The event will be held at the Busan Exhibition & Convention Centre (BEXCO) in May 2024 and is set to host the World Barista Championship – one of the most esteemed and highly regarded competitions in specialty coffee. 

WoC Busan will run in addition to WoC Dubai, scheduled for 21 to 23 January 2024, and the flagship event in Europe to be held in June 2024.

Entering new markets

Much as it was with Dubai, it’s obvious why the SCA has decided to host a WoC event in Asia. In recent years, the continent’s coffee market has been growing exponentially. According to Research and Markets, by 2030, the specialty coffee market in the Asia-Pacific region will grow by 15.3%.

“The coffee market in Asia has been booming for many years, and World of Coffee in Busan will be the platform at which coffee companies across Asia and around the world will be able to connect, network, and drive innovation in the specialty coffee space,” Yannis said at this year’s Specialty Coffee Expo.

It’s also important to note that the SCA will host the 2023 World Latte Art, World Coffee In Good Spirits, and World Coffee Roasting Championships in Taipei City, Taiwan in November later this year. Naturally, this is a clear indication that the SCA is interested in hosting more events in the region.

In recent years, more and more auction records are being broken by buyers from East Asian countries. Green coffee buyers in markets like China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea will often pay record breaking prices for more exclusive coffees, notably Gesha and other rare coffee varieties. Ultimately, this is only helping to increase the popularity of high-end specialty coffees in these markets.

In line with this, the premiumisation of coffee has become increasingly common in certain East Asian countries. This is the process of using exclusivity, rarity, and superior quality to drive up brand appeal and prices for products which would otherwise be cheaper. In turn, this adds a greater sense of value for the buyer, and means they are more willing to pay higher prices for coffee.

Why South Korea?

South Korea is a booming specialty coffee market. Between 2007 and 2013, the country’s coffee industry grew by 300%. Today, South Korea is the eighth-largest coffee-consuming market in the world.

Furthermore, a growing number of South Korean coffee professionals have competed at the World Coffee Championships in recent years. Most notably, Jooyeon Jeon placed first at the 2019 World Barista Championship, as well as Kyoungha “Charlie” Chu and Heongwan Moon who won the 2021 and 2022 World Cup Tasters Championships, respectively.

But why Busan specifically? Well, the city is the second-largest in South Korea, and while the country’s capital Seoul has more specialty coffee shops, Busan is picking up speed at a striking pace. Prominent roasters and cafés include Momos Coffee, BlackUp Coffee, Waveon Coffee, and Mavis Coffee, to name a few.

With over 11,000 people attending WoC events every year, and considering the huge demand for specialty coffee in the region, WoC Asia is sure to attract a significant number of visitors in 2024 and beyond.

Moreover, the significance of this event taking place in such an innovative specialty coffee market like South Korea is likely to shape the future of World of Coffee in the long term.

Enjoyed this? Then read our article on why East Asian buyers often pay record-breaking prices for auction winning coffee lots.

Photo credits: Specialty Coffee Association

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