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I know from a different thread that a few people were watching the WBC in Copenhagen, but I was wondering if anyone was going for any barista competitions this year, or if anyone had already competed? If you are wanting to compete, but haven't, do you have any questions? And people who have already competed, do you have any tips on presentation, music or even signature drinks?

 

As a competition virgin myself (and hoping to enter the UKBC this coming year), I'd love any kind of inspiration or advice from would-be or have-been competitors. Thought I'd throw it out there.

 

Cheers,

Seamus


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I think competitions are a great way to improve the quality of the coffee being served for a number of reasons.

 

1. They educate the consumer and provide exposure of what coffee 'can' be like

2. They bring together baristas who can feed off each others enthusiasm and develop new drinks, techniques and styles

3. They showcase new equipment

4. They can indirectly increase your company's bottom line (through additional exposure if you do well in the heats)

 

I'd love to compete but cannot find the time this year - who knows what next year may bring.

 

Get yourself along to as many Barista Jams as possible and start to work on the competition machines if you don't do so already.

 

I'm sure you'll get more tips and I look forward to seeing what others have to say on this as well.


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I'd love to do both, but I have no idea where any barista jams are in the UK! If anyone knows, shout. And the machines, yeah, definately. got to do one shot and some milk on this year's machine in Copenhagen, but nothing more.

 

Cheers Glenn!

 

Seamus


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to be honest if you are lucky enough to work on a 58mm machine, and specifically a twin boiler, then the actual competition machines will still feel second nature.

 

As you know I also hope to compete this year, and one thing I've put a good amount of thought into is the music. It seemed at the WBC some people cared and some people didn't and whilst I don't think it'd make much if any difference to the judges, it will certainly make your presentation more or less memorable if you pick well.

 

Aim to pick songs that finish just before the 15m mark, as this will really help you know where you are (if this is allowed..) and then practice to them. Treat it like a gig or a play, rehearse to the music, and you'll be more organised.

 

Signature drink wise... try and find 3-5 flavours that you love and work perfectly together, and experiment. Don't be precise at first, just work out whether the idea is a go-er or not, and then start being precise with the measurements!

 

Other than that, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice.

 

If you ever have a spare day or two before the heats, feel free to come down to Coffee Aroma, and we'll have a practice together, give eachother some tips if you'd want? Hopefuly we'll have a La Marzocco then (though I don't think they'll be the comp machines this year)

 

Also, Barista Jam wise, watch this space for news on a Lincoln based Jam start of September!

 

Chris


Unemployed barista with a measley; Aeropress, Hario Skerton Handgrinder, anonymous cafetierre and ACF cups

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Cheers Chris. To be honest I was looking to get down to Lincoln anyway, cos I fancy trying one of your coffees lol. But yeah, I'm working on a Wega Nova at the moment, so 58mm groups, but a single heat exchange boiler. We don't even have a PID in yet.

 

As for the new competition machines, if they do change then a deli we're very friendly with has a Nuova, so I'll just get myself in there lol :p

 

And as for the music, that was simple for me. Go! Team. It's what I enjoy working to most. Really fun, upbeat, dancy songs. Helps me develop a rhythm when I'm packing shots, etc. Gutted one of the blokes I work with hates them.

 

As for the Jam, you just tell me when and I'll be there.

 

Cheers,

Seamus


Wanna know more?

 

Hit me up on social, or check out the blog. I'd love to chat, and help out if I can!

 

The blog!

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I wrote a little bit about this a while ago here, and still stand by it (though sorry the post format wasn't corrected when I changed my blog style!)

 

Competitions are great fun, highly recommended learning experiences (though quite humbling as they remind you that you aren't nearly as good as you thought you were) and I think now more than ever judges just want to see an honest performance, and to see the real you - not some idealised version of a barista.

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Yeah, I noticed that in Copenhagen. I gotta say, I'm really looking forward to it. Looks like a great (though fairly stressful) experience.

 

And thanks for the link James, just read it. Some good stuff :). And frankly, any advice from someone who's won the WBC must be worth at least a glance lol.

Edited by SeamusMcFlurry

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I'll be a first time competitor along with the pair of you, and though I have dreams of winning and getting to Atlanta the thing I'm most excited about is just hanging with other people who don't judge me when i talk about dosing technique!

 

Ian B just sent out an update with the news that square mile are looking for a 'competition level' barista to fill a role in their business.

 

I wondered what everyone, including James, feels this description 'Competition level' means within our industry (not in the context of the vacancy!) Is it someone who win's? displays skill and competence in their 15 mins? just has the pride or confidence in their skills to stand up and be judged? or a general understanding of coffee beyond the actual requirements of working at a bar?

 

JH - I'm available for dishwashing if needed!

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I'll get some video of myself up on my blog, then you can see what a competition barista is like :p

 

Nah, but seriously, that's a good question. But if James wants to offer me a job :p

 

And I suppose it's someone who has solid skills as a barista, the social skills to communicate with the customer, and who is level headed under pressure. Obviously, stick a huge amount of coffee knowledge ontop and a passion for everything coffee.


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Competition level barista - I used this term because I hoped to imply a few different things.

 

Firstly technical skills - someone with a great understanding of the grinder, or the espresso machine and excellent milk skills. Bar standards will be very high, so someone used to looking at the detail of coffee preparation is important.

 

Secondly coffee knowledge and passion - someone who is used to knowing their coffee inside out and talking about it intelligently.

 

The positions available are extremely demanding, and we hope are rewarded accordingly for the right person. With that particular position barista skills are only a part of what is needed.

 

When we come to advertise for barista staff (won't be for a few months yet) there will likely be very little technical requirement when it comes to barista skills, more about passion and people skills.

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