Dearest Zoka Family,
This weekend, I have the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Northwest Regional Barista Competition as a judge. "The what?" you might be asking...good question.
Every year, baristas from each of six regions in the United States compete against each other in order to gain entry into the United States Barista Championship. These baristas train for months, meticulously selecting their coffee (which country of origin? which farm? what should it taste like?) and molding a fifteen minute presentation around it. This presentation includes the preparation of four single espressos, four single cappuccinos and four signature beverages, which can include other ingredients besides milk coffee and water in order to highlight the espresso. A panel of four sensory judges evaluate and score these drinks according to the United States Barista Championship rules and regulations. Meanwhile, two technical judges make sure the baristas work is clean and consistent and done in an efficient manner. This is all supervised by a head judge who watches over the whole affair.
I have long thought about competing in one of these competitions as you meet so many wonderful and passionate people. However, I thought it would benefit me to have learned exactly what the judges expect by being one. Two of my esteemed colleagues, Kyle Rees and Nik Virrey, have participated in the past as judges and have helped me learn the rules. For the past several weeks I have been hard at work studying the various scoresheets, rules and regulations in anticipation of the United States Regional Judge certification and yesterday I passed that certification. Over the next couple days I will be involved as a technical judge at the Northwest Regional Barista Competition! This is a fantastic opportunity for me to grow as a barista, support the hard work of the competitors by providing them with feedback, share ideas and showcase the beautiful craft of being a barista.
If you have never seen one of these competitions, I recommend checking it out. The event is held at the Tacoma Convention Center and is free and open to the public. More information about it is available on the USBC website
. If you can't attend, you can watch all the competitors (and maybe catch a glimpse of me!) on the live stream here
Hope to see you there.
Brandon Paul Weaver