Espresso U Turn

Nov 26, 2012



Only a few years ago barista championships and latte art world finals were all the rage amongst the anorak-wearing self professed cognoscenti of the coffee trade

Now the tide is turning and many are starting to ask what relevance do these hyped and over rated competitions have to the market place , the consumer, the offer or  the value of the Barista service?

And of course the answer is not a lot

We all got caught up in the late 1990s ‘Cool Britannia’ tidal wave and to be honest the rise of the coffee shop and the emergence of the Barista as a force to be reckoned with in the coffee trade,  can trace its roots back to this sense that immediate celebrity is the be all and end all… skill and genuine innovation no longer cool…

Ebb and flow means that this now seems to be changing and at long last many in the trade are questioning the weak and wooly flim-flam of  a PR veneer which keeps these competitions and the associated money making band wagon going…


The standard format of the barista contest, in which an entrant has to make certain set drinks and one of their own devising, within a set timeframe is as irrelevant now as it was 10 years ago….

And if the best which can be said of these events is that they delivered new ideas, such as flat whites, or challenged the barista to serve a drink in both takeaway and ceramic cups, or to serve drinks which are called for at random…then it surely must be the death knell for that good old fashioned term ‘ customer service’


Several of the chains now run their own barista contests –  to greater or lesser degrees of local success… Is a change due?

Well – Don’t get me wrong,  there can be skill in what the Barista does – BUT – We must keep our feet on the ground when measuring the relevance and level of skill required… Hence  -why today many pundits argue that the format of the UKBC and WBC  has lost its focus and now must  add sparkle , excitement and a sense of genuine / real skill to any competitive events…

Even the poor old Barista has recognised this  – attempting  now to become master roaster and green bean quality expert all rolled into one …. telling us which side of the hill and under which tree  the beans used to make this flat white were grown…

This has little relevance to the realities of working behind a busy coffee bar and being a waiter….

Where setting a grinder,  finding  a sweet spot, or adjusting the espresso recipe to improve crema are without doubt more relevant to any remaining vestiges of competition, as well as, much more importantly, the consumer experience and offer


Elitism , back slapping and  jingoism are not pleasant bed fellows – the  death knell for these over blown national events is surely nigh, as we see a return and re focus on the grass roots of the trade and on plain old simple great service… 


Guru writes for Aromo Coffee – They are coffee experts focussed on providing convenient and tasty ways for the caffeine addict to take their medicine. Aromo supplies excellent ESE Coffee pods and superlative Senseo pods,  both of which offer the espresso and filter connoisseur  a no mess, no fuss,  super fresh and environmentally conscious method to make stunning coffee… the guys at Aromo also have a range of Dualit branded capsules which make a brilliant and economic alternative to nespresso capsules

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