If you have barista skills that you are proud of, there are plenty of reasons to consider entering a barista competition. These are often fast-paced events that are a huge amount of fun, a great way to meet new people and an ideal way to see just how good you are when it comes to making coffee and how you could take your barista skills to the next level in the future. However, succeeding at a barista competition, whether you are going in the hopes of winning or just want to take part in the experience and do something new, will take some work beforehand to make sure that you are prepared. Keep reading to learn more about the major coffee competitions that you can enter around the world, and some top tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about competing.
Some of the major coffee competitions around the world that baristas can enter include:
World Barista Championship
The World Barista Championship is one of the major competitions held for baristas. It involves more than fifty competitors, who all need to prepare four espresso shots, four milk-based coffee drinks, and four signature drinks in just fifteen minutes. Last year, the competition was won by Jooyeon Jeon from Korea, who wowed judges with an extremely unusual and scientific signature drink that involved extracting monosaccharides from blackberries.
World Latte Art Championship
If you are serious about latte art, then entering the World Latte Art Championship might be something that is worth considering for you. However, this competition is not for those who’ve just perfected the latte art leaf as you will need some seriously artistic skills to involve matching sets of both designer and free pour lattes. To make an impact in this competition, you will need to show that you can create completely identical patterns, have a great deal of creativity, and be able to produce appealing and interesting latte art that stands out.
US Coffee Championships
The US Coffee Championships is an ideal competition to enter for anybody who is enthusiastic about coffee. There are several different types of competitions run in this championship even including competitions for baristas along with brewers, roasters, and cuppers. In the barista competition, competitors have just fifteen minutes to prepare espresso shots, cappuccinos, and signature drinks. Judges are a mixed bunch of sensory and technical professionals to ensure that the coffees are judged in a well-rounded way.
If you are considering entering a more niche and specialist coffee competition, the Cezve/Ibrik Championship involves competitors preparing Middle Eastern or Turkish coffee using specialty Ibrik pots. This type of coffee is unique and different from others and is fairly easy to learn how to make if you are interested, but it can be difficult to perfect.
How to Prepare for Entering Your First Coffee Competition
If you are a barista, either in a professional setting or at home, you can enter a lot of different coffee competitions. Aside from the major coffee competitions and championships that are held around the world, you can also find smaller events. If you are currently working as a barista for a large company or coffee chain, you might find that your employer has company events that employees are welcome to enter, which could help you get your foot in the door not only when it comes to bigger coffee and barista championships and competitions, but also help you get noticed as a professional barista and boost your career.
If you want to know what it takes to win a coffee competition, keep these tips in mind:
Practice Makes Perfect
No barista will be surprised that it will take a lot of practice to get to a standard where you can hold your own in a barista competition. Pulling the perfect shot of espresso can be a tricky skill to master. Before entering a barista competition, it’s important to make sure that you have the basics right; you will need a manual espresso machine to continuously practice pulling the perfect shot. Spend your time brewing lots of different drinks over and over until you are confident that you can do it in seconds and still have it come out perfectly every single time.
Along with being a great way to boost your confidence, it will also help to develop your muscle memory when making drinks, which will make things easier on the day. It’s also important to remember that it’s not all about what your espresso shot or latte looks like, either; the judges will also want to see what your drinks taste like, so don’t forget to keep on tasting your drinks while you are practicing to make sure that they taste perfect.
Be a Perfectionist
If you want to stand out as a competitor in a coffee competition, then you are probably going to need to become a bit of a perfectionist at the very least. There isn’t any room for cutting corners when you are competing as a barista, so be sure to be as exact as possible in every step of the preparation of your coffee from grinding your beans to how you serve the drink. By tapping into your perfectionist side while you are practicing, you can be sure to impress the judges when you compete.
Manage Your Time
It’s important to remember that the majority of coffee competitions will have strict time limits in place for the competing baristas. You will usually be asked to prepare a range of different drinks including espressos and specialty drinks in just fifteen minutes time. Because of this, getting your time management skills perfect is key to making sure that you can succeed in the competition. If you’re still steaming your milk when the clock stops, you’re immediately going to be out. Spend some time considering your brewing methods and figuring out how much time each step takes for each drink you’re going to make, so that you can get your time management down to a fine art. Give yourself the same amount of time that you are going to get during the competition while you are practicing and do this over and over, so that you have a routine in place that you know is going to work for you on the day.
Get In Touch with Your Creative Side
A little bit of creative flair is the best way to make sure that you stand out from the competition on the day. And the best part is that in order to set yourself apart from the other competitors, you don’t necessarily have to come in and be overly technical as well as creative. Something like coming up with an unusual or different design for latte art or combining unconventional flavors in a drink can help to encourage the judges to take notice of you for the right reasons. In most barista competitions, you will be given the chance to come up with and prepare a signature drink, which gives you a lot of room to be creative.
Whatever competition you are in, there’s nothing more impressive than a competitor who is confident in themselves and their ability. When you’re filled with confidence because you know that you have put in all the work necessary to be in with a fighting chance of going far in the competition, it’s going to show in your demeanor, and even more importantly, in your work. If you have planned and practiced your routine over and over and got it just perfect, you have every reason to have faith in yourself when you turn up to complete. Project confidence from the moment that you walk on the stage to when you find out where you are placed. The more confident you are, the more calm, collected, and cool you’ll be throughout the competition, and the easier you will find it to deal with any issues that might arise.
Has COVID-19 Impacted Barista Competitions?
Sadly, as indoor gatherings, the US Barista Championship and other similar competitions have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition was canceled in both 2020 and 2021, and it’s still not certain whether or not the competition will be going ahead for 2022, although organizers say that they are hopeful that the competition will finally be able to return. At the next event, the competitions expect to see competitors who missed out on competing for the world titles in the previous two years, and for baristas who were planning to compete for the first time, the advantage is that they have had much more time than usual to practice and perfect their routine. So, whenever the competition returns, judges are hoping for some serious results!
If you are a skilled barista or are considering getting into producing barista-standard coffee at a professional level, you might be interested in entering competitions to show off your skills and learn new things. There are various barista competitions at a range of levels from smaller, more causal contests to world championship events.