10 Basic Tips for First Time Competitors

Friday, 12 September, 2014

 “In the end your job up there is to make them like you” Craig Charity.

The Barista Championship competition is the best education for any barista, it brings home the fact that a lot of being a barista is about service to the customer. The judges are the most knowledgeable customers you will ever serve and the experience will change the way you make and appreciate coffee everyday

1. You need to bring your own beans and you need to know those beans, intimately.
If you say your coffee tastes like something - make sure it does. You may have more than one coffee for your sets - make sure you explain why to the judges.

2. Read your rules and get to know the judges' scoresheets.


If you go 60 seconds over time, you are disqualified. Keep aware of your timing and an ear open for the emcee who counts you down at regular intervals.

4. You must supply your own music for the 15 min set

Choosing music that keeps you motivated and helps you keep track of your timing is so important!

5. Bring the right sized cups – espresso 60ml-90ml, cappuccino 150ml – 180ml.

Too many first time baristas are marked down or even sometimes disqualified for this simple reason.

6. Create a theme for your set.
Craig Charity's theme was the cross-continental relationship between Guatemala and Africa that produce his amazing coffee. Tell us a story using your coffee. WATCH YOUTUBE VIDEOS TIL THEY ARE COMING OUT YOUR EARS. This pop-up video by current US Champ Laila Ghamberi is a great entry point, then watch all the winners from previous years.

7. Your hands will shake when you pour cappuccinos - latte art is not as important as you think.
The judges are looking for glossy foam, a certain depth of foam (1cm), a full ring of crema, lots of contrast between milk and coffee, a certain temperature. They would prefer all those things to be correct before you even think about pouring a rosetta.

8. You are allowed to bring your own grinders.
And if you don't, try to tap the community to get some time on the competition spec machine which is an automatic on-demand grinder that takes some getting used to.

9. Signature drinks - keep it simple and know what you CANNOT Do. i.e banned substances (NO ALCOHOL) and putting things in the portafilter
"Don’t overcomplicate it” Craig Charity

10. Don't go over time and read your rules!
Yup these are so important we're stressing them twice. Timing – We cannot stress to you enough how important it is to be aware of your time. Rules - As Kyle Fraser said, this is a competition about being the most creative while following all of the many rules. Get used to them,

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