In just a few weeks hundreds of skilled baristas, plus regional winners from competitions in the Great Lakes, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Western divisions will converge upon the Twin Cities for the United States Barista Competition, sponsored by the Specialty Coffee Association of America and hosted by Krups.
The baristas will be graded on taste, presentation, skills and overall impression. The challenge for them is to pour twelve perfect shots – four straight shots of espresso, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks.
“There's a lot of competition,” according to last year's winner, Heather Perry, a long-time barista and roasting specialist from California. Perry, who grew up working alongside her father at Klatch Coffee in San Dimas said the field of baristas gets more and more competitive each year.
“Everyone goes to the competition for different reasons,” she said. “I've always gone with the focus of winning.”
The US Barista Competition is just one part of the SCAA's 20th Annual Conference and Exhibition. More than 700 coffee professionals from more than 40 countries, including Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, are set to attend the conference in Minneapolis.
SCAA Executive Director Ric Rhinehart, said the conference and its educational sessions were designed to increase the opportunities for dialogue, provide a forum and lay foundations for continued partnerships that make up the world of coffee. While many participants go solely for the experience, some according to Perry, go there specifically to bring home the prize - $1,000 cash and an all expense paid trip to the World Barista Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Perry, who has won the US Barista Championship twice, placed 2nd at the World Barista Championship in Tokyo last year. “Part of becoming a better barista is learning from the judges,” she said. “You need to have an open mind and listen to their feedback.”
Judges at the competition grade specifically on taste, presentation and skill. Many of the patterns you see baristas use to finish espresso based drinks are created with free-pours, commonly termed latte art
So if you're a trained barista, or just aspire to be one, check out our Third Annual Latte Art Contest. You'll have a chance to win a Dalla Corte Mini or a Gaggia Baby Twin Espresso Machine. We're once again looking for a video entry of your creation via Youtube. You can always find out more information about the Latte Art Contest and read about the 12 Steps to Latte Art.
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