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The 21st World Barista Championship: What it Entails

The 21st World Barista Championship: What it Entails

Published by Programme B

The World Barista Championship is a little over a month away. Slated for 23rd October 2021 in Milan, baristas worldwide are already gearing up for the competition.

After skipping last year’s competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, competitors and fans alike can’t wait to participate in the contest. The whole event seems easy as it’s just a matter of brewing espresso or cappuccino, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

On the contrary, the participants must show great skill when preparing the beverage. Here’s what you should know about the World Barista Championship.

What is the World Barista Championship?

It is a competition organized by the World Coffee Events to promote excellence in brewing coffee and advancing the barista craft while engaging audiences worldwide. More than 50 competitors prepare four milk drinks, four espressos, and four signature drinks in 15 minutes.

WCE certified judges evaluate each performance based on four factors:

  • Technical skill
  • Cleanliness
  • Presentation
  • Creativity

The first elimination leaves the 15 highest-scoring competitors to carry on to the semi-final round. Nine people are then eliminated, leaving six to advance to the final round, where the World Barista Championship winner is selected. During the last competition, Jooyeon Jeon, from Momos Coffee Company in South Korea, won.

World Barista Championship: The Set-up

There are nine pre-set set-ups, and the baristas can choose any of them. Also, the equipment used is the same except for the coffee and the grinders.

Baristas can carry their grinders. Each Barista has 44 minutes: seven minutes to set up the table, 15 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to brew coffee, and seven minutes to clean up. If the barista exceeds the scheduled time, a penalty applies.

During the 15-minute preparation time, the Barista sets up the station and equipment for the performance. Once the clock hits the 15-minute mark, the Barista must be ready.

The following 15 minutes of the competition involve preparing the different types of coffee. Music is played and the area lit up to entertain the guests and the judges while the baristas explain how they are brewing the coffee. They are required to prepare 12 cups of coffee.

World Barista Championship: Preparing the Beverages

In a regular cafe, any barista can prepare 12 drinks in less than 15 minutes. And while most fans on the coffee forum applaud the fastest baristas, judges are hardly impressed by the speed. They look at the presentation and the performance. Here’s a sneak-peek of how the beverages are prepared:

The Milk Beverage

Previously called the Cappuccino Round, it has evolved over the years and is now referred to as the milk beverage. The change resulted from the realization that the classic 150-180 ml of milk didn’t make the best cappuccino. 

In modern WCE competitions, baristas can still use dairy but in larger quantities of up to 300ml. Some baristas, however, now use the cortado style, adding a small amount of milk to avoid taking away too much flavor from the espresso.

The Espresso Course

Forget the espresso coffee you brew at home with friends that often comes off bitter or sour. In the World Barista Championship, it’s hardly about preparing a sweet cup of espresso but hitting all the flavor notes required by the judges. 

With the Espresso Course making up most of the points, Baristas are compelled to prepare the best drink. When extracted correctly, espresso can be full-bodied, sweet, and bright.

The Signature Beverage

For this beverage, baristas are required to prepare a cocktail without alcohol. The secret to excelling in this area is to be incredibly creative and exhibit synergy.

The resulting beverage should have hints of espresso at the base, and the flavors should complement the drink without overpowering the main ingredient. Also, the barista must introduce and explain the beverage clearly to the judges to earn more points.

World Barista Championship: Time Management

It can be challenging for the barista to manage time while explaining what they are doing and mixing all the ingredients. They lose a point for each minute exceeded and are disqualified when they go over a minute.

World Barista Championship: What Judges Look at

Judges have a huge responsibility when it comes to identifying the winner. To ease things, they use four categories of competitors to determine the true Barista:

  • Their understanding of coffee beyond the 12 drinks prepared during the competition
  • Passion, craftsmanship, mastery of technical, communication, and service skills
  • Ability to lead and be a role model
  • Can prepare and serve high-quality beverages

A scale of 0-6 is used to rank each category. 0 is the worst and six the best. Judges can award 0.5, 3.5, 1.5 points too. Judging starts at the preparation stage by examining how clean the Barista is and their ability to organize the space and ends with scoring the barista’s customer service.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels