The regionals are finally done and I couldn’t be happier. I am shattered, run down and grumpy. The six regionals led us to cover more than 3000 miles, endless hotels (like airports – only interesting if visited rarely) and greasy hotel breakfasts, thousands of pounds spent and hundreds of passionate and interesting individuals working in speciality coffee.
The one great thing to come out of all this was the chance to meet so many professional and dedicated baristas. I was backstage got to meet every competitor. They all knew that I was a competitor, that I was through to the finals, but there was no ill feeling or suspicion, and I got nervous for people and just wanted everyone to do well. Watching them perform is not good for my stress, especially those who run it right up to the wire (or just over!). Backstage was a great place to be – people were always interested, willing to learn what they could, and I tried to do my best to demystify the competition, to correct anything obvious that people were doing and most of all encourage them to come back next year!
No doubt there were people there because the boss told them to be there. There were also people there who came skeptical and left converted and excited – which is great to see. There were also people I met who were really hungry to learn more, people who enjoy what they do and would like it to be seen as something worthwhile.
What I hope comes out of this is a chance for a fledgeling community to establish itself. There are now a lot of people (not just competitors, but their friends and colleagues) who want to know more about espresso, more about coffee, to know more about everything really.
I think if we can organise a few barista jams, the odd little fun competition, opportunities for seminars or something then w can start something snowballing.
The final is now only a couple of weeks away and it should be really good. I hope people who competed get the chance to come along and watch, because there are going to be several different interpretations of what a barista can be.
Time to get stuck into some practise – a new coffee and a new signature drink. Easy….