Barista Competitions 2017

If you think you’re the best in the game, then why not prove yourself and compete in one of many Barista Competitions that are held around the nation throughout the year?

Barista Comps are a great way to gauge what level you are at in the industry, they offer genuine feedback from seasoned professionals and above all else, they’re great fun!

This week, we’re giving you a list of competitions to keep an eye out for and asking a few coffee masters about their experiences on getting up on the main stage.

The BIGGEST Barista Competitions of the year include;

  1. 2017 World Barista Championships9th-12th November Seoul, South Korea
    • judges evaluate taste, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill and presentation and engagement
  2. 2017 World Latte Art Championships – 13th – 15th June World of Coffee Expo, Budapest, Hungary
    • Baristas are judged on creativity, visual design, contrast, identical patterns in a pair of coffees, and overall performance. Baristas are required to make up to 6 coffees to be judged
  3. 2017 World Coffee in Good Spirits – 13th – 15th June World of Coffee Expo, Budapest, Hungary
    • Baristas/Barkeepers showcase drinks where coffee and spirits are produced in harmony. These differ from classic Irish Coffee’s to creative mixology cocktails. Competitors must produce several hot and cold beverages and are judged on creativity, taste, cleanliness and overall performance
  4. 2017 World Cup Tasters Championships – 13th – 15th June World of Coffee Expo, Budapest, Hungary
    • Much like wine tasting, this comp highlights the skill, speed, and accuracy in distinguishing taste profiles in specialty coffees
  5. 2017 World Brewers Cup Championships –  13th – 15th June World of Coffee Expo, Budapest, Hungary
    • This comp is all about filter coffee! Its focus is on the manual craft of brewing coffee and overall performance and interaction with the judges
Practice makes perfect when it comes to Latte Art Comps

To compete in the World Championships, candidates must first qualify in their country at Regionals and then Nationals. Aussies compete at the 2017 Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Australia Coffee Championships in Melbourne at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) 30th March – 1st April 2017.

Owner/Operator of Senator Coffee, Elisha Mauger, won the 2013 Australian National Cup Tasting Championships and ranked 10th at the World Cup Taster’s Championship in Nice, France.  Here’s what she had to say;

“My fave comp of the year would have to be the National Thailand Barista Championship. There is so much talent and so many new exciting concepts tried and tested with baristas pushing the limits to win the title. Also it isn’t always in English which is great because then you tend to focus more on what the barista is doing rather than saying as well as there is more passion when they do it in their native language.

“My top tips –

  1.  Do your research especially when it comes to signature drinks. Don’t go for something that has been done before.
  2. Make sure you get information about your bean from the supplier/farm and not from wikipedia
  3. Get those who have knowledge and training from previous competitions to judge practice run thrus and give constructive feedback
  4. Take every competition as a way to learn and improve your skills. It’s not all about winning, it is about making you a better barista too!
  5. Practice, practice, practice…..but don’t always practice a perfect routine. If you practice nothing going wrong anytime and then something happens when you compete most people freak out. Allow for mistakes or issues to happen just in case.”

“Most embarrassing competition moment? Doing a blindfolded competition to make a coffee as quick as possible to raise awareness for UCAN (a small group who helps those with disabilities get employment in the coffee industry) and getting up onto the stage, I went to use the grinder and nearly stepped off the side of the stage!”

Image : from beanscene mag

Ms Mauger’s accolades;

  • 2013 WA Cup Tasting Champion
  • 2013 Australian Cup Tasting Champion
  • 2014 2nd place NSW Cup Tasting Champion
  • 3rd Fushan Cup Barista Championship Technical Judge
  • 2015 National ThailandBarista Championship Technical Judge

Head Barista and Assistant Manager at Hylin West Leederville, Ru Teow, has participated in several competitions over the years, he was spooned WA Cup Tasting Champion for both 2014 and 2015.

Ru says he enjoys the Barista Comps the most.

“I get to witness the inspiration for why a barista is competing. Most of the time it has a very personal reason, whether it be sustainability, fairness to the farmer or exploring new processing techniques.”

Ru Teow at Small Print before his current role at Hylin. Image : courtesy of primolife

“My top tips are –

  1. Have a coach for competition run thru and understanding scoresheet. Too often new competitors get crushed because of technicality and small details that they overlook or don’t understand.
  2. Explore coffee scene and talk to ex-competitors or judges, take inspiration from people and places that you liked. Often you will learn a thing or two just by talking to other industry professionals.
  3. Stay calm and collective, enjoy the experience of competing. You have done all the hard work preparing for the competition so just relax and do your best. Everyone messes up their routine at times, it’s how you recover from it that matters.”

Ru has competed in latte art and cupping competitions, having competing in cupping comps twice at a national level.

“Competing forces me to go back to basic and relearn everything I know about Coffee. It’s often when preparing for competition you will push yourself way further than before.”

Grouch & Co Concept Store Manager, Matt Goncalves, says his favorite comp is the Western Regional Barista Championships last year. “This year I’m looking forward to the National Championships at MICE and the Australian Aeropress Champs.”

“My top tips are –

  1. Know the rules- you can easily lose points from making very simple mistakes and it’s easy to make the rules work in your favour! I read them about 50 times the week leading up to the comps.
  2. Practice Practice Practice- know your routine back to front, where everything is and what you have to say. practice your routine in front of anyone customers, strangers never the same people. Always time your practice runs and keep a record of it
  3. Don’t be afraid to play around with the signature beverage- this is by far the hardest part of the competition. It can be really hard to come up with something new so don’t be afraid to mess around with ideas for reductions, methods, and new techniques

“This year my biggest aspiration is to finish in the top 6 in the Australian National Barista Comps. In the future I would like to compete in the Brewers Cup (of course I would love to win the Barista Comps but…)!”

Matt doing his thang at the Western Regional Barista Championships 2015, as part of the Little Italy by the Sea Festival, Bathers Beach Fremantle, where he won 3rd place.

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