As the calendar rolls on, this weekend marks the final denouement of the United States of America’s regional competition cycle. In Atlanta, New York City, Santa Cruz, Tacoma, and now in Chicago, Illinois, where the Big Central Regional Barista Competition will play host to baristas from both the North Central and South Central divisions, the weekend of March 23rd-25th.

These weekends offer indelible snapshots of what the specialty coffee culture in America looks like in 2012, by region, city, roaster and individual. It’s the opinion of this website that barista competitions, though not perfect, are enormously important, but more than that, they’re a lot of fun to watch. In the right hands, those 15 minutes can be transcendent. Pay attention this weekend. These events are worth it.

There’s several ways for you to follow along with the fun; here, let us show you.

Your official homepage is here, via the SCAA – this is your jumping off point for .pdf schedules, events listings, official schedules, and the like. Your top-form livestream is available here , and the best way to follow along via Twitter is by using the hashtag #BCRBC.

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We’ve put together some quick reference schedules for the .pdf phobic. Here’s a schedule for BCRBC Day 1 as well as BCRBC Day 2. We also have a complete schedule for the Brewers Cup preliminaries here. In accordance with de rigueur, the first round of the Brewers Cup will not be broadcast via the livestream; home viewers will have a chance to watch Brewers Cup routines on Finals Sunday. If you’re unfamiliar with barista competitions, or you’d like to offer a little bit of background and info to someone in your family or group of friends, we humbly suggest to you our “Parent’s Guide to the BCRBC”. It was originally published for the SWRBC in Santa Cruz, but we’ve adapted it for this weekend’s Big Central Regional. Hi mom!

Simplyfing the divisional split:

There are indeed two distinct regions competing this weekend in Chicago. The North Central division includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The South Central division includes Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Competitors from both fields compete throughout the weekend in non-overlapping routines, so from performer to performer you will see both regions. It’s not a 50-50 split for total entries; there are more North Central competitors than South Central competitors, but they will be judged and a top 6 will be awarded as two distinct groups.

Pretty easy to follow, but we’ve made it simple in our quick schedules by attaching a (NC) or (SC) designation to each competitor, and we’ll be tweeting with those distinctions as well.  In an interesting quirk, there are only 5 Brewers Cup competitors from the South Central region. All five competitors will automatically move on to South Central Brewers Cup finals, and their opening round routines will be adjudicated in accordance with all other Brewers Cup prelims. 

For those attending:

Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s going on this weekend on the social front in Chicago. On Thursday night there’s a meet ‘n greet from 7 to 9pm at Caffe Streets (1750 W. Division Street), with food ‘n drinks provided. You should probably visit Caffe Streets at least once while you’re here, because it’s a really good cafe. On Friday night there’s a BGA Party from 6 to 9pm at Isle of Man (3856 N. Lincoln Ave), which is like a fancy clothing and ephemera boutique, so we hope it’s cool for us to have a cocktail in there, but surely Morrissey figured this all out with them like a week ago. On Saturday night the post-Prelim afterparty is from 7 to 10pm at Bleeding Heart Bakery (1916 W. Chicago Ave).

We’ll be attending the event due to generous sponsorship from Counter Culture Coffee, Intelligentsia, and Alterra, who are the official hosts this weekend in Chicago. will offer daily recaps and up-to-the-nanobreath live tweets, JustinTV stream trivia, videos, .gifs, loads of photos, and polite requests for food. Follow along with the madness via #BCRBC, join us on the livestream, and read the very best of it all each day right here on

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