Barista Championship Rule Changes

Tuesday, 31 March, 2015
 How will this effect our SA baristas?

The official stance from SCASA's, Iain Evans:  "Regarding the new rule changes announcement by World Coffee Events last Friday, this won't affect the South African Regional competitions this year, as Gauteng have already run their event according to the old rules, which means we will run all the Regionals to the old rules to ensure consistency across the Regional events. The SCASA Board will meet soon to discuss the rules changes, and await a mandate from WCE - but most likely, the first implementation of this will be at Nationals, if at all this year. "

The Mahlkonig K30, the official grinder of the WBC,
which becomes compulsory for the barista competition in 2016.

SA Barista Champion of 2014, Craig Charity says: "I think that is both good and bad, the good with the standardised grinders is that it brings the competition back to it being about baristas and not about equipment, the good with the decision to have milk based drinks vs cappuccino makes more interesting and gives some room for expression.

The bad side? A standardised grinder takes away a tool that the barista might want to use to extract the best from their coffee. And the broad term 'milk based' provides way more subjectivity for the judges, it becomes like comparing apples with grapes and some judges may not like grapes!

Nevertheless its a step in the right direction as it gets people talking and prevents stagnation of the competition."

The Cappuccino course will be replaced by a "Milk-based" course, which means the judges are going to have to judge everything in the image above, and more against each other. Tricky. 

Official WCE Press Release below:

Evolving the World Barista Championship: WCE Announces Exciting Updates to the World Barista Championship in 2016

Dublin, Ireland (27 March, 2015) – For the past 15 years, the World Barista Championship (WBC) stage has played host to innovation from the world’s best baristas. While we’ve made small changes to the competition format over the years (remember the mandated sugar bowls?), it’s time we introduced more changes. Bigger changes. Changes that bring the focus of the competition back to its innovative roots.

WCE will be announcing exciting changes in and around this year’s WBC in Seattle April 9-12, 2015. These changes will take effect for the 2016 WBC (Dublin, Ireland).

The first two of these exciting changes consists of a WBC qualified equipment kit for all competitors and redefining the cappuccino course. These two shifts indicate positive steps towards the continued evolution of a competition platform that consistently explores and shares advances in specialty coffee. In the sections below, we will deliver specifics about the WBC qualified kit and the new milk drink course.

WBC Qualified Kit: Victoria Arduino “Black Eagle” and MAHLKÖNIG K30 Vario

Since the competition began in 2000, the success of a World Barista Champion consisted of two essential elements: coffee quality and barista skills. Starting in 2016, WCE, with the support of MAHLKÖNIG, will provide all competitors on stage a WBC-supplied grinder in addition to the WBC-supplied espresso machine in an effort to level the playing field and bring the focus of the competition back to its original ethos. MAHLKÖNIG have committed to bringing 30 grinders to the 2016 WBC in Dublin, along with continuing their support of national competitions in the lead up to the WBC.

The 2016 & 2017 Qualified Kit will be provided for use on the world stage by WCE’s qualified espresso machine sponsor, Victoria Arduino, and WCE’s qualified grinder sponsor, MAHLKÖNIG. The complete Qualified Kit will be the same for all competitors throughout competition, thus intensifying the focus on those qualities at the core of the competition: specialty coffee quality and the talent, skills, and passion of the baristas who join us on the world stage.

“Based on the high performance criteria of the qualified testing process, the equipment provided at each WBC competition station sets the highest industry standard,” says WCE 2015 Chair, Mike Yung. “The Victoria Arduino “Black Eagle” and MAHLKÖNIG K30 Vario are perfect partners to the world’s best baristas competing for the top spot.”

“Success of a World Barista Champion is the result of their ability to perform with virtuosity with coffee, coffee grinder and coffee machine. For this endeavor, competitors only deserve the best equipment available,” states Philipp Baumberger, CEO of MAHLKÖNIG.

Milk Drink Course

Most consumers understand coffee as a beverage to which milk is added, and the cappuccino course was always designed to acknowledge this and promote excellence in this category of coffee beverages. As new specialty coffee culture emerges, and social media and the internet make the world smaller, we now know that there is more than one way to serve incredible milk and coffee drinks.

After fifteen years of focusing on a single definition of a milk drink on the WBC stage, we think it’s time to open up the milk beverage course to something that better represents where we are today as an industry: open-minded to anything new and delicious. Starting in 2016, a “milk beverage” will be defined as a hot beverage, made from a single shot of espresso and steamed milk, allowing competitors more flexibility in choosing a coffee-to-milk ratio that showcases their coffee best.

The competition working group, a team of highly committed and experienced individuals, will be available to answer any queries the community has about the forthcoming changes for 2016.

“The changes we’re announcing represent exciting steps towards a new WBC,” says Stephen Morrissey, chair of the Competition Working Group and 2008 World Barista Champion. “Our community has always been highly invested in the future of the competition, so we want to be entirely transparent about why these changes are being made.”

The additional evolutionary changes will be announced on the world stage in Seattle, directly preceding the finalist announcements on Saturday, April 11, 2015, as well as throughout the coming year. For more information on this year’s WBC, please visit:

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