SCA - Barista Competition in 10 Steps
1. What is a barista competition
It’s an annual event that brings talented, both old and new, baristas together to showcase their skills, amazing coffee and innovative practices.
3 courses - 12 drinks - 15 minutes
Espresso, milk based, signature drinks
Sensory (4), they drinks and evaluate your coffee (on taste, tactile, flavor descriptors)
Technical (2), they evaluate your technique (tamping, waste, station management, etc)
Head Judge (1), their scores don’t count, but they calibrate all the judges and make sure they are fair.
4. Understand your coffee
Know how to describe it. Where its grown, how its processed, etc. Know your flavor descriptors - even if your coffee is good, accurately calling your flavor descriptions in order is worth a lot of points
5. Practice, practice, then practice some more
Go through your routine over and over again. Practice making mistakes, know how to recover from them and not go over time.
6. Practice in front of people
We can all make coffee, but doing it with 7 judges staring at you, mic’d up and a room full of spectators isn’t our like a normal cafe. Get all the nerves out during practice and have fun on stage!
7. Know the scoresheet
There are two types of points, yes or no, they are black and white, and 0-6 (for taste, balance, waste, etc). There are also multipliers, making some categories (like tactile) worth 18. Play to the scoresheet.
8. Tell a story
Have a theme or “thesis”. Tell a story that ties your coffee to a bigger idea (i.e. sustainability, improving communities, etc)
9. Go through scoresheet after - ask the judges
Yes they are there to judge your routine, but more importantly they are there to help you learn, give feedback and improve your skills.
10. Stay and watch the other competitors
Who knows, you may learn something or make a few friends! It’s all about growing the specialty coffee community.