The Northeast Regional Barista Competition is back on track, scheduled for February 20th-22nd at Attic Studios in Long Island City and sponsored by Dallis Bros. Coffee. In advance of this event, our friends and longtime partners at Counter Culture Coffee are offering a fabulous competition workshop – or “Competitor Lab” – at their New York Training Center. The event is held this coming Saturday, January 26th, and will be led by reigning 2012 USBC champion Katie Carguilo this weekend. Here's an overview from CCC online:
This lab assumes that its participants have a working knowledge of espresso equipment and technique and will serve to refine this knowledge into a set of skills tailored for the competition environment. This seasonal lab is held in conjunction with scheduled regional barista competitions. For more information about competition in your region, please visit the United States Barista Championship's webpage.Who should attend this workshop: Experienced baristas interested in competing in SCAA-sanctioned regional barista competitions.Prerequisites: Barista experience and intent to compete; baristas attending this lab should be familiar with current USBC rules.
To give you a sense of what you're in for at this training sesh, we attended Counter Culture Coffee's “Training Lab” event in Chicago a few weeks back, which makes us uniquely attuned to giving you the deets. Counter Culture's info-team knows a lot about what judges are looking for when scoring drinks and presentation, as well as the overall competition format. “The point of competing is to make better baristas,” Katie Carguilo told Sprudge. “That's how the score sheet is set up.”
The Chicago lab demonstrated three barista competitor performances. For some attending the lab, it was the first time watching a competition run-through. The three baristas had distinct styles: one competitor weighed heavily on coffee, another customer service, while one was simply about their love for coffee.
Alex Brown, the judging instructor, led a heady discussion on the espresso and cappuccino portion of the score sheet and how scores are decided on and then calibrated. Katie served everyone two different espressos and cappuccinos – they together the group scored and calibrated.
Katie staged a complete run through of her winning United States Barista Championship presentation while the class acted as judges. Alex Brown did a competition style fifteen minute calibration with the class. “It gave the class an idea of what it's like to be on the judge's side of the table,” Katie tells us.
The lab finished with a technical cappuccino splitting and building workshop – everyone took turns making cappuccinos for each other and give each other scores on things such as temperature, foam distribution, and discussed strategies for consistency on a competition stage.
The instructors wrapped it all up by talking about how competition weekend is valuable for someone on any level – being a competitor, a judge, or a volunteer. “The point of the weekend is to bring the specialty coffee community together and engage with other professionals,” says Ms. Carguilo, “the best advice I ever got and something I share to those who want to compete – especially to those who've never competed before, is to have a couple of goals beyond winning the competition.”
The champ continues: “Whether that goal is to meet friends you've made on Twitter, or your goal is not going over time, setting up simple goals like that will make you more relaxed, you'll have a better time, and walk away feeling like you've had a worthwhile experience. Of course the experience it worth it, but if you feel defeated, it's hard to let that sink in.”