Archive for November, 2011

Barista Competition

Posted in Coffee of Course on November 28, 2011 by whyyoushouldhatecoffee

Last year, when I was thinking of competing and then in the end decided to be a sensory judge, I was maybe shocked maybe not, by the difference of perspective that competitors have in going into competition.

Some are super closed and shut off, not willing to discuss any aspects of their routine. Some are super open, willing to discuss answer questions and receive feedback.

It seemed some of the best competitors asked the most questions. We’re the most genuinely interested in the judges responses, and understood their own downfalls.

I could justify being quiet about my routine and my coffee because of a few reasons. First and foremost I could see this happening because in order to compete I would have to be very comfortable with my coffee. Comfortable to a point of confidence that could be construed as arrogance. I could see the same thing happening with a specific routine. Maybe it’s clever. Maybe it’s new. Maybe it pushes the boundaries of the rules and regulations. It’s probably not new. It’s doubtfully clever.

Honestly, I think competition is about communication. Who presents their coffee best. That’s what it came down to for me as a sensory judge. That’s where the points are. Well, that and the coffee has to taste good.

I’m competing this year.
I have a very good idea of my coffee.
I have a pretty good idea of my routine.
I really would love input.
Because I know they could use work.


The Importance of Travel

Posted in Coffee of Course with tags , , , on November 28, 2011 by whyyoushouldhatecoffee

On many occasion I have asked an employer if they would help me (financially) to attend certain things like regional barista competitions, national competitions, world competitions, and camp pull-a-shot.

I hate asking for money. It’s always made me feel uncomfortable. When I first thought of attending such events I was told by my then employer that they would love to help me out. At first I was shocked because to me at that time, it was vacation. I was working 70 hours a week on a salary, and this was a time to escape. Though it was a business trip and was still very much, if not more, coffee related it was a time to escape the day to day and gain knowledge and insight into other techniques, equipment and perspectives that other coffee people had.

I was and still am told that it’s valuable to the company that I work for to attend such events. To this point I honestly believe that. I believe that attending coffee events nationally is a two fold benefit. It benefits me in my professional career and it benefits the company that I work for in a number of ways.

To me, some of the greatest feelings I have are relating to a guest or in some way getting them to be excited about coffee or some aspect of coffee, whether it be a brewing device, a grinder or one specific coffee. The best ways I’ve found to do this are to either relate to them in some way that makes me/my company more knowledgeable/different (knowing a shop in this guests hometown or a specific barista is a powerful thing in that it can get people really excited/sentimental). The other way I’ve found to get guests excited is maybe obvious, but that is for myself to be excited. The simplest way to do that is to have some new or fresh perspective on something. Be that the newest coolest brewing device, or some new profound approach to use an old brewer, a new coffee. Excitement.

To me, this excitement is gained or significantly enhanced by traveling to events such as barista camp, or regional competitions. By doing so, I feel as though I’m a) more knowledgeable and b) more excited to give the product I have to my guests and c) refreshed from a mild vacation.

This may or may not be a statement for other baristas to help them get out and travel. I have no idea. I know it’s something I think about very much, whether it is worth it, and how much it’s worth. It’s always a difficult conversation for me. But it’s on my mind a lot so I figured I’d share it and see if anyone else has thoughts on the matter or maybe some equation.