5 more tips for barista competition

Last year I wrote a post with 6 tips for barista competition.  This year, with the rule changes and all, I wanted to write another little post (though still give the first a quick re-read…).

I really want to  encourage people to enter, it isn’t as difficult or scary as it seems.  Everyone who competes, as long as they do it for the right reasons, gets a lot out of it and doesn’t regret a minute of it.  What’s more – I guarantee it will make you a better barista.

1).    Make sure you put an espresso into every sig drink.

Now to begin with this might sound painfully obvious, but every year people make this mistake and up until now the rules haven’t been very clear.  Just brewing those 4 espressos isn’t enough.  If you blend them into something and don’t pour it all out then it doesn’t count as an espresso per drink.  Under the new rules you would get 0 from all sensory judges for this category so DO NOT make that mistake.

I really can’t emphasize this enough (Tip No.4 from the previous post) – Know the Rules!

2).    Come to competitions to learn.

If you compete with the sole goal of winning then most of the time competitions are disappointing and unenjoyable.  Whether it is your first competition or your fifth – if you are open to it then competition is the most intensive 15 minutes of learning of your life, and a great experience.  Those who come only to win often leave resentful of their scoresheet instead of seeing areas where they can continue to learn and develop, which is a real shame.

3).    Be yourself.

If the rule changes are implying anything it is that judges want to see individual, interesting and above all genuine performances.  This was a big goal for both Stephen and myself – from the music, to how we dressed to the way we talked to the judges.  (And of course the drinks we served!) Don’t try and be the barista onstage that you think the judges want to see.  Be honest, be yourself, let your passion for what you come out.  This year I really hope to see some interesting, entertaining and honest performances because those are the ones you remember best and enjoy most.

4).    Stop worrying about latte art.

A rosetta on a capp is not the be all and end all of a competition routine.  It is a six point box.  If you aren’t comfortable pouring art onstage then don’t worry, judges are more interested in taste and texture.  I’ve seen a bad pour throw the routine off of many a barista and it just isn’t worth worrying about.

5).    It isn’t about recreating real life.

Barista competition is a game based on real life, not a direct recreation of a bar.  You can fight against it, moan about, or have fun playing a game that makes you better at what you do for a living.  Once you turn it into a sport it becomes impossible to recreate what happens day to day.  Don’t worry about it – worry about making great drinks, and entertaining your judges for 15 minutes.

If you are reading this in the UK and you want to get involved then click here.  Again – I highly recommend the experience, and it is one of the few opportunities to meet up with other baristas from all over the UK.

5 Comments

  1. I should also add that Tristan’s blog is worth reading, as he is starting to chronicle his run up to competition with some useful advice in there too!

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