Breaking this morning via Thames wire, the team behind the annual London Coffee Festival has developed a new and exciting coffee competition being staged at the 2015 edition of this event. Dubbed “Coffee Masters”, this competition replaces the United Kingdom Barista Championship at London Coffee Fest, as the 2015 UKBC will being staged earlier in the year to accommodate the 2015 World Barista Championship schedule.
Coffee Masters is a “fast paced, multi-disciplinary coffee competition” as per the event FAQ, and was developed by Allegra Events, the brand that puts on the London Coffee Festival, with input from Rob Dunne and Vic Frankowski of the London-based coffee consultancy DunneFrankowski. (Mr. Frankowski is also a contributor to this website.) The event itself carries with it a £5000 cash prize, a little more than $8000 USD at today’s conversion rate. Entry is open to the public and not restricted to baristas in the United Kingdom, but will be limited to just 16 entrants from around the world, chosen based on a 1-minute signature drink entry video.
Information on how to submit your video is available here. For more on just how multi-disciplinary this thing is going to get, let’s take a look at the different components of the competition, as per the official Coffee Masters homepage via London Coffee Festival:
The Cupping competition tests the barista’s ability to understand taste profiles in a highly-competitive time-pressed battle. Each competitor is presented with 6 coffees set in a particular order. The competitors will have three minutes to taste and memorise the order of those coffee. Competitors then turn around while the coffees are re-arranged. Competitors have got a further 2 minutes to taste and put the coffees in their original order.
Tests the barista’s ability to choose the right brewing method for a coffee of their choice, which they will select during The Cupping discipline. It also demonstrates their understanding of grinding and selecting the right method to maximise on taste. Competitors will choose their favourite coffee from The Cupping round to brew with a Chemex, AeroPress or Hario V60. They will have to choose a brewing method most suited to the coffee and dial it in using a Mahlkönig EK43. The competitors will need to explain to the judges why they chose the coffee and brewing method.
THE LATTE ART
Tests the barista’s mastery of milk, challenging them to deliver specific patterns creating milk-based drinks against the clock. In this round the winner will take all points is a competitive head to head latte art battle. The competitors will present three latte art patterns, which will be determined by the roll of a dice. The presented coffees will be judged on visual appearance of the pattern, milk quality and contrast.
A real world test. Baristas are challenged to deliver an order of ten espresso-based drinks, common to a quality café menu in seven minutes. Competitors will be presented with an order docket of ten espresso based drinks, which they will be challenged to produce in seven minutes or less in the most efficient manner. The competitors will be judged on their technical skill, time management, cleanliness and the time it takes for them to complete the order.
THE SIGNATURE DRINK
The contenders present a signature beverage, which they have created in their submission video. A signature drink is a mixed beverage consisting of three or more ingredients, thus allowing use of any ingredient as long as they are presented, safe and legal for use. The competitors will present three identical drinks to the judges and will be judged on taste, creativity and presentation.
THE ESPRESSO BLEND
Contenders are requested to create an espresso blend from the coffees used in The Cupping to create a bespoke espresso blend. This espresso blend will then be used in ‘The Order’ round and will be judged at that point. The ‘Espresso Blend’ round will only occur in the semi-finals.
Entry is now open, and runs until December 15th, 2014. The event itself will take place in London beginning on Thursday, April 30th 2015. You can learn more by visiting the Coffee Masters page via London Coffee Festival, and by following the event on Twitter and Instagram.