If you don't come in a bit cracked, you'll leave broken.

Friday, 5 October, 2012

Zane Mattisson resides in Cape Town. He is a part-time sales rep, barista trainer, coffee events co-ordinator & runner, Aeropress license-holder and general all-round coffee lover. He is unfortunately married but has eligible single friends.

“If you don’t come in a bit cracked, you’ll leave broken”

The blur in the back is Jono of Bean There photo bombing on Big George(Koldserv), Carol(Seven Oaks) and Georgie(Koldserv)

There is a very serious side to barista competitions. As an on-looker in the crowd, or as a frequent follower of TheCoffeeMag, you can easily pick it up. And it is serious and rightfully so; crowning the next ambassador of SA coffee to go and represent us all at the next World Barista Champs.

As a competitor you feel it and live it for months before the time; pressure to not only find a coffee that “speaks” to you and hopefully your judging panel, but to then structure a performance and signature drink around your coffee. Winning will bring “street cred” for you and the company you represent, as well as the opportunity to mingle with some of this industry’s international leaders, great thinkers and heroes at the World Championships.
As a judge it’s a crammed few weeks of re-reading the current rules, memorising the score sheets, watching past World champs’ performances on YouTube to remember what the winner will up against, then 3 full days of bringing your ‘A-game’ as you help find the next champion.

But as the competitions are over for a while let’s leave the serious side out for a breather. There is another side of the SA barista competitions that the general public might not pick up so well that I want to share. The more you get involved with either running and/or judging barista competitions the more you get to meet and connect with other people and companies not just from your section of the industry but all the other sections too (including but not limited to importing green coffee, roasting coffee, barista training, actual making coffee (yes baristas exist), and equipment sales).

We have to agree with the look on Lovejoy's face, Wayne is crazy ;)

We would take our coffee intravenously, except that it tastes so damn good. Bruce with a prop from his recent Barista Champ performance.

Oh Matt. Cracked indeed. We do love you.

In the five years I’ve been in specialty coffee, from all the years of pre-competition meetings, judges trainings and dinners, and just general socializing I’ve come across the unmistakably fun, quirky and, well, slightly touched gene that runs through this industry. It’s not immediately evident in some but it’s there. I promise. And there seems to be at least one true, fully-fledged nutter per company*.

I coined a saying a few years back that if you don’t come into this industry a bit cracked you’ll leave a bit broken and I was reminded of this while looking through the beautiful pics taken at the recent National champs by TheCoffeeMag. If you click here you can see more of both sides of the competition, serious and nutty. Spot the odd-balls we love so much in this industry.
We are growing and uniting as an industry and it’s because of events like this and people like these.

So here’s to my fellow coffee lovers, countrymen and coffee nutters who make this industry a serious and a well-oiled machine bringing amazing coffee to the people, and who add that touch of something to help us remember why we all got into coffee - because coffee is fun and enjoyable.

* - Some are blessed enough to have more. I encourage the hiring of coffee nutters : )

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