Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in the Scae German chapter barista championship in Munich and wow, it was an experience!
The perfect occasion to watch the passion and knowledge of the judges, the famous German efficiency shining throughout the organization of the event and of course the brilliance of the baristas participating in the competition.
Working behind the scenes allowed me to assist in various tasks for different categories. It was inspiring to see so much vigour and talent during the contest spreading through the preparation rooms and echoing in the chatters around the site.
Despite the long hours, the atmosphere at the Scae Barista Championship was always uplifting. People from all walks of life and professional backgrounds sharing their coffee stories and expertise, made the hard work a little lighter. I must confess, copious amounts of caffeine helped too.
Throughout the five days, the baristas competed in various categories according to their preferences and proficiency. Being a first-timer at such events, I could not hide my amazement.
The Latte art category exceeded my expectations. I learned that artistry and precision draw the subtle line between a fine piece of art in a cup and a disastrous flat white. My previous attempts so far have been closer to the latter. The technique and skills of the baristas had my eyes glued to the stage.
Coffee in Good Spirits
This contest is where coffee meets fun, in other words alcohol. The participants have to produce the traditional Irish coffee (whiskey and coffee) and create two alcohol-based recipes of their own. I guess, you can imagine this was much anticipated by the crowd of organizers and volunteers.
Due to previous arrangements, I could not attend the Brewers Cup which took place on the last day. It was a shame because manual brewing has a hint of enchantment for me. The apparatuses seem to hold magic potions and the aroma and mist of coffee conquering the ambiance is somewhat mystical. Perhaps, I’m romanticizing a little, but it is surely nice to watch.
The Best Barista competition was to say the least intense. In a short period the barista pros had to prepare 12 beverages, keep their equipment clean, entertain the judges by elaborating on their views and choices of coffee and keep a grip on their nerves. I got anxious just watching, imagine the adrenaline going on the stage.
For myself, the highlight of the event was Cup tasting. Three cups are placed in a triangle, with two cups being identical coffees and one cup being a different coffee. Using skills of smell, taste, attention the contestants had to go through eight such triangles and identify the odd cup as quickly as they could.
It was revealed in the end that the coffees were all from the Boquete region in Panama, making their achievement all the more impressive.
Generally, I’m not so fond of competitions. The pressure doesn’t always bring out the best of the participants and most certainly not all the best participate. However, helping out at the Scae Barista Championship was an opportunity to observe talent first hand and I will most likely be seen around coffee events and festivals more often in the new year.
Click here to see the winners and here to check out more pictures and coffee stories from Sinan Muslu the guy behind the cool shots on this post!