South Central Regionals are April 1! Who's competing? Also - any advice for first timers!

I'm debating whether or not to compete in regionals.  I've never competed before, but I feel like it is an amazing opportunity to learn and really hone my skills.

 

Who is competing in South Central?

 

Also, any advice for a first timer? I've been studying the score sheets and SCAA regulations, but I'm unsure about the rest of the process.  Should I train with someone or just practice a ton?  Do people usually pay trainers?

 

Thanks everyone!

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Hi Lisa!  I just reposted your thread to the BGA Facebook Page & the SCRBC Facebook Event Page so hopefully you'll get some good responses!

Thanks Tara!  

Tara Shenson said:

Hi Lisa!  I just reposted your thread to the BGA Facebook Page & the SCRBC Facebook Event Page so hopefully you'll get some good responses!

So...you're saying I should practice...a lot. : ) I enjoyed the blog.

I've been watching videos, reading blogs, and studying and feel like a complete novice all of a sudden. Is there anyone you might recommend for training or is it best if I just spend hours on the machine?



Mike McKim said:

This is what I wrote after competing for the first time.  http://www.cuveecoffee.com/blog/index.php?p=56&more=1&c=1&a...

If you can get to Chicago and if Mike Phillips is in town, I have a feeling the lessons would be free.....

Colin,

 

Thank you for your input.  I've been reading regulations and score sheets like mad, and I'm nervous just reading them.  A lot of your advice here coincides with some input from folks I know as well, mainly really knowing my coffee and knowing why I selected it in the first place. I feel like that's the most important factor for the sig. beverage as well.

 

I want to learn, and that's my primary motivation for competing.  The more I read about the experiences other baristas have had, the more I want to do it.

 

I'm going to take the advice you've given for practicing, especially with the cart.

 

Thanks again!

colin said:

Lisa --

I'm sure some people pay trainers for coaching one through a regional competition. I would bet that most baristas would be more than willing to help you for free, however. Getting a barista buddy to train with is valuable, you can share supplies and take turns critiquing each other. I've done a few of these competitions, including the usbc, so in the interest of sharing, here are my starting tips:

 

Sure, practice is essential, but the amount of "run-throughs" one needs to be successful barista competitor is debatable.

 

Lucey asked Phillips one time for advice for new competitors -- Scott was giving a talk at a jam in G-rap -- and I remember Mike's top 3 things: #1 & #3 were the same: Know your coffee. Know the rules, sure, but know literally everything about your coffee that you can. Then you must find a way to make those things relevant to your routine. E.G. If you use is washed coffee, why does that fact matter?

 

If you can, create or find a space in which you can have peace and the ability to focus. First, find the right espresso, then find the sig drink and don't stop playing with the sig drink until it is actually, actually, tasty and interesting and jives with the coffee. Oh yea, and when you practice use the actual coffee you'll use to compete with.

 

Do the complete 30min routine. Yes, get a cart, get used to packing everything precious to you on it, and then get used to laying a table and dialing in a coffee at the same time. Take some time to practice caps, or the final sig delivery, but do the whole 15-30 as frequently as possible.

 

Invite people into the space and serve them like judges. Get nervous.

 

Do not write a script to follow, but DO TALK out loud as if you were serving judges every time you run though. Use this time to say everything that comes to mind, even the cheesy bleeding heart shit because sometimes that stuff is awesome, and if not, then you get it out of your system. Some people would disagree with me here, but I strongly feel that the most compelling competitions i have seen are developed by evolving a working dialog which is constantly growing as it incorporates effective phrases and points, and loses those which are ambiguous or ineffective. The best competitors always seem to have an ace up their sleeve which they whip out in the finals round, and not infrequently this appears in additional or revamped dialog.

 

Finally, find your reasons for competing early on and try to remember them. Competing to win is not always the most sustaining reason, and for those who start with that goal in mind.... well only one person gets to win. Remember that you love your coffee, and no matter the outcome of the competition, your goal should be to represent the coffee to the extent it deserves.

 

hope that helps. be well,

colin w

 

 

Let me start off by saying that I would be happy to come out to you and train for $500/day plus travel, lodging and expenses...

 

Some of the biggest problems in the USBC/WBC is the lack of understanding regarding what is a "1" and a "6" in scoring.  Just what does a "6" in cleanliness and station management mean?  Honestly, who really knows?

 

Further - what about a "6" in visual correctness of espresso?  Again, no one really knows.  But hopefully, the judges will know it when they see it.

 

As other people have told you, understand the scoresheets.  That also means understanding where the important points are going to come from, what you can afford to lose and what really needs your attention.

 

Take "Flushes the group head" from the Tech sheets.  It's a yes or no and a one or zero point question.  Multiply that by two tech judges and that one parameter is worth two points.  "Dry/clean filter basket before dosing" is the same thing.  But "Acceptable spill/waste when dosing/grinding" is a six point parameter with a possible total of twelve points.  That's the one you need to maximize - even to the detriment of the other parameters, if necessary.

 

"Correct Espresso Cups"  everyone seems to worry about this when it's only worth four points total.  The ones to watch are the Taste and Tactile Balance parameters.  Each of those is worth 24 points PER JUDGE, for a potential total of 96 points.  Start pulling higher numbers here and in these categories with a x4 multiplier, and you very well could win the championship.

 

Hey, Lisa.  I'll be a first time competitor at South Central as well.  I'm glad you started this thread.  I could use some advice too.  Thanks, everyone.

Hi Lisa!  Great questions and please know that you are not alone.  Competing for the first time can be a huge scary step even for baristas who are experienced.

 

Something you said in particular caught my attention, which is that one of your primary motivators for participating in the competition is in order to learn.  I think that outlook towards education is very wise and I totally support you and baristas like you who become energized by access to the specialty coffee community- and thriving in it as an individual- through these unique events.

 

This is not necessarily directed at you (Lisa) but it is worth noting that technically speaking, the competitions serve as an assessment tool of the standards of specialty coffee.  I don't mean this in a casual way as in they assess whether or not participants are good baristas from a subjective standpoint, rather it is a technical term used in curriculum development.  SCAA and organizations like us (mutual benefit societies for our members) publish standards, develop training around those standards and teaching people about them, and conduct assessments which serve as indicators of whether the standards are correct and relevant IN THAT ORDER (standards --> training --> assessments).  Er, I should say, best practices are to conduct these steps in this order although certainly we have some room for improvement in that area, like many orgs.

 

My point in surfacing this is to emphasize that SCAA training- based on our standards- may be worth considering if the intention is to learn about coffee.  The Level 2 Barista Certification Curriculum is complete and most courses will be offered at The Event in April (please email me, PM  me, or visit scaaevent.org for more info) as well as some brand new Level 3 offerings.  The competitions absolutely are a place to learn- I learned a ton from my participation in them a million years ago as a competitor and I wouldn't trade it for anything- but that is not actually their primary purpose from a technical standpoint, and it may help to know that other options are out there to create a well-rounded educational experience in coffee.

 

And also it is worth noting that there is no replacement for having a trainer or working with a team- you will benefit so much from the objective coaching and analysis.

 

Good luck to all!

Best,

Ellie

Ellie,

 

Thanks for responding.  I didn't mean to indicate that I'm not knowledgeable.  I've been working in specialty coffee for quite awhile, and have actually been growing a shop not known for coffee by moving towards SCAA standards in our coffee program.

 

I'm a BGA member working towards Level 1, and I plan on taking level 2 during conference.  My goal is to push myself, to challenge myself to learn everything I can about the coffee I select, and to enjoy the training that goes along with the excitement of competition.

 

I want to push myself to the next level.  : )


Ellie Matuszak said:

Hi Lisa!  Great questions and please know that you are not alone.  Competing for the first time can be a huge scary step even for baristas who are experienced.

 

Something you said in particular caught my attention, which is that one of your primary motivators for participating in the competition is in order to learn.  I think that outlook towards education is very wise and I totally support you and baristas like you who become energized by access to the specialty coffee community- and thriving in it as an individual- through these unique events.

 

This is not necessarily directed at you (Lisa) but it is worth noting that technically speaking, the competitions serve as an assessment tool of the standards of specialty coffee.  I don't mean this in a casual way as in they assess whether or not participants are good baristas from a subjective standpoint, rather it is a technical term used in curriculum development.  SCAA and organizations like us (mutual benefit societies for our members) publish standards, develop training around those standards and teaching people about them, and conduct assessments which serve as indicators of whether the standards are correct and relevant IN THAT ORDER (standards --> training --> assessments).  Er, I should say, best practices are to conduct these steps in this order although certainly we have some room for improvement in that area, like many orgs.

 

My point in surfacing this is to emphasize that SCAA training- based on our standards- may be worth considering if the intention is to learn about coffee.  The Level 2 Barista Certification Curriculum is complete and most courses will be offered at The Event in April (please email me, PM  me, or visit scaaevent.org for more info) as well as some brand new Level 3 offerings.  The competitions absolutely are a place to learn- I learned a ton from my participation in them a million years ago as a competitor and I wouldn't trade it for anything- but that is not actually their primary purpose from a technical standpoint, and it may help to know that other options are out there to create a well-rounded educational experience in coffee.

 

And also it is worth noting that there is no replacement for having a trainer or working with a team- you will benefit so much from the objective coaching and analysis.

 

Good luck to all!

Best,

Ellie

Hi, I just saw your post. We are hosting an event at Caffe Medici on January 8th if you would like to come and check it out. It will definitely be a great starting point. Look on the events calendar on bX. -Patrick
Awesome.  I'm there.  What time on the 8th?  Can I bring a few folks?

Patrick Pierce said:
Hi, I just saw your post. We are hosting an event at Caffe Medici on January 8th if you would like to come and check it out. It will definitely be a great starting point. Look on the events calendar on bX. -Patrick
It starts at 5 pm and you can definitely bring people. 

Lisa Kettyle said:
Awesome.  I'm there.  What time on the 8th?  Can I bring a few folks?

Patrick Pierce said:
Hi, I just saw your post. We are hosting an event at Caffe Medici on January 8th if you would like to come and check it out. It will definitely be a great starting point. Look on the events calendar on bX. -Patrick

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