Competitors: How it works
Find and grind. Toast and roast. Tamp and clamp. Sip and trip. Being a barista at the WBC is a serious business. For starters, it’s a race against the clock. Competitors (one finalist from 50 countries) have 15 minutes to prepare one cappuccino, one espresso and one fancy-pants signature drink for each of the four judges. That’s 12 drinks in 15 minutes! It’s not just about free-pouring a perfect rosetta or achieving the perfect taste either. Competitors need to know and communicate the story of their beans to justify why they’ve gone with their roasting style. Aside from this fl are-bartending-meets-sciencemeets- art competition there’s the Brewers Cup – where competitors have ten minutes to prepare a brewed coffee, be it a siphon, or pour-over. Caffeine cats who like free-poured ponies, skulls and swans should check out Genovese’s Latte Art Smackdown.
Judges: What they look for
Judging the World Barista Championships is no easier than contesting them. “Defusing a nuclear weapon would be easier,” laughs Simon James, Genovese’s head barista trainer and national heats judge in 2013. Would-be judges have to undergo a two-day certification process. “There’s a written exam, testing knowledge of coffee and WBC rules,” say James, “followed by a sensory test where you taste fl avours dropped into water – nutty, sour, floral, herbal and so on – and then half an hour later you need to identify how many and which of those profi les are present in a coffee sample.” Bring on the nuclear weapon? “You’ve got to follow protocols and be fast, thorough and focused,” advises James. That, friends, means assessing whether an espresso is ‘elastic’ (stretches evenly across the cup when tipped) and tasting it to see if it has a balance of acidity, sweetness and bitterness… all while listening attentively as the baristas speak about their chosen beans and judging those words as a match for the flavours in the drink. Gadzooks!
World Barista Championships are part of MICE 2014. Melbourne Showgrounds, May 15-18.