While the world is gearing up for the Olympics in Rio this summer, the coffee world is eagerly awaiting its ‘Olympics” for baristas – the World Barista Championship next week in Dublin. If you’ve never heard of this, and don’t know what a barista competition is, you’re not alone. Let us explain. Many people make coffee everyday, however making really good coffee requires skill. Barista competitions like the World Championship bring together the specialty coffee world to vie for the chance to be the barista who can produce the best espresso-based coffee drinks.
At the World Barista Championship, it’s topnotch baristas from more than 50 countries who are the superstar athletes. Like Olympian athletes, many have won various regional competitions culminating in a national title, accomplishments that require a high level of dedication, skill, and talent.
It’s thrilling to watch the best of the best as each barista prepares and serves three courses of espresso-based beverages consisting of espresso, milk, and signature drinks all in just fifteen minutes. Competitors must narrate each stage, explaining what they are doing and why, in order to demonstrate expertise and an understanding of the underlying techniques.
The competing baristas are evaluated by a panel of judges: four sensory, two technical and one head judge. The judges look for a barista who is both adept and inspiring, who takes coffee preparation and customer service to a new level, and can, overall, create excellent specialty coffee.
Playing a crucial role in the competition are the volunteers. They help to prep each barista’s station, as well as clean up and replace the cups, spoons, plates, etc. before each course. All of this has to be done quickly and properly to keep the barista’s presentation running smoothly without any glitches.
This year, 12 of the competitors are Urnex Ambassadors. Like the other competitors, the ambassadors put a lot of hard work into preparing for the championship– training, selecting raw materials, creating new and novel ways to serve and present coffee, working and re-working their presentation, etc. We wish them all good luck as they demonstrate and enhance their skills in a supportive but challenging environment. What we all get out of it is a higher level of coffee excellence, and if you’re lucky to attend, a great show!