World Barista Championship – Interview and Event Rundown

Coffee Tasting at last year's event

You love what you do. You’re not just good, you’re the best. So how do you prove it? The World Barista Championship is one of the world’s largest coffee events.

April is host to the biggest event on the coffee calendar, the annual World Barista Championship. Organised by World Coffee Events, it will be a star attraction of this year’s host, Seattle’s Specialty Coffee Event of the Year exposition.

The event, billed as the largest of its kind, takes place on April 9-12, where various competitions will take place at the Washington State Convention Centre. In addition to the Barista Championship, various coffee competitions including Latte Art, Coffee Roasting, Brewers’ Cup, and Coffee in Good Spirits championships will be held.

Between the events, organisers aim to engage with audiences and traders internationally, brings together local and regional events from around the globe. Jenn Rugolo, Communications Manager for World Coffee Events, told Coffee Trade that the Barista Championship hopes to advocate the barista profession. She said: “The World Barista Championship offers baristas a unique platform to share the newest ideas, techniques, and innovations within the areas of farming, roasting, and customer service.”

The Barista Championship is the World Cup of coffee competitions, with contestants from over fifty countries taking part and the ultimate acclaim for the champion. Every participant has fifteen minutes to prepare 12 cups, including four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks. There are three knock-out rounds where contestants are awarded points for their efforts; each drink arbitrated by four sensory judges and two technical, with the winner being crowned World Barista Champion.

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This year will mark the 16th year of Barista Championships. The event has grown since the inaugural event in Monte Carlo, with 10,000 attending last year’s event and a further 40,000 viewing the live streamed footage. The competition takes place in collaboration with coffee trade shows all over the world, with previous events having been held in Melbourne, Tokyo, Copenhagen and London. The competition has vastly changed since its inception, building a more professional reputation, while maintaining the core values, as Jenn explains:

“People saw an inherent value in the competition, so it has become more structured. The judges receive intensive training and a robust education programme. This doesn’t mean it’s not fun, but things are more structured. One thing that has stayed consistent is the promotion of coffee.”

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We spoke to Jenn Rugolo of World Coffee Events about the benefits that involvement can bring to Coffee shop owners.

“The competition is a platform to share a passion for coffee and the best place to get new ideas across,” she said. “The biggest benefit is to promote your business, as the title encourages brand recognition. winners are often offered the opportunity to tour and see the broader world of specialty coffee. It’s a beautiful thing to travel the world and meet others’ in the coffee trade.”
Although many past winners have typically been supported by larger brands, the Specialty Coffee exposition where the Championships are being held is a chance to network internationally, and meet likeminded people.

Rugalo added: “Even if businesses are not competing, there are benefits to attending and spectating. The act of making and drinking coffee is incredibly personal, often driven by cultural values, and it’s enlightening to meet people from the other side of the world who are equally passionate about coffee, but who might think about it a little differently.”

Want to go further? World Coffee Events is reaching out to businesses willing to promote the World Barista Championship, livestreaming from their premises for local coffee fans. Through the GOLive initiative, you will receive a promotional kit and a company listing link on GOLive’s website. Event registration opens in early March. Visit http://www.worldcoffeeevents.org for more information.

Coffee Trade will be live-tweeting the Championship from @CoffeeTradeMag every competition day between April 9 and 12.


Pictures courtesy of World Coffee Events

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