I'm preparing for my first competition, I know how important prep time is, but I'm not really sure of my limits or what's most important. If someone could spare some specifics that'd be great, thanks!

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Take a look at the competitors rule book as well as the scoresheets. They will outline what is expected of you as well as delineate what you can or cannot do. The judges rules are also a good place to look for what the judges are looking for in your performance.

From what other competitors have told me and from what I have experienced is that the most important things are setting up the judges table (once competition time has started, it can look unprofessional to be setting down their tablecloth ;) and dialing in your shots.

All I can say is keep running through your routine, and if you have people to watch and act as judges awesome. If not, try video taping yourself to see where you stumble and where you flow. Good luck!
You're right that prep time is important. Priority no 1: Dial in your grind and make lots of shots!
Setting up your work station and the judges table shouldn't take long. I think, max. 4-5 minutes total. If you've organized it well and thought it through, it's not hard to do that fast. But it requires that you have everything organized. Then spend a good amount of time on making shots. Think of it this way: the more shots you can make in that time, the better the shots will taste for the judges. Not only does it give you a chance to dial in your grind perfectly, but you also 'season' the machine and more importantly, you get more confident when you taste how awesome those shots are coming out :-)
Last, practice to clean up everything in 2 minutes, so it's looks spotless.
And have fun!
thanks to you both, it's coming along well!

Klaus Thomsen said:
You're right that prep time is important. Priority no 1: Dial in your grind and make lots of shots!
Setting up your work station and the judges table shouldn't take long. I think, max. 4-5 minutes total. If you've organized it well and thought it through, it's not hard to do that fast. But it requires that you have everything organized. Then spend a good amount of time on making shots. Think of it this way: the more shots you can make in that time, the better the shots will taste for the judges. Not only does it give you a chance to dial in your grind perfectly, but you also 'season' the machine and more importantly, you get more confident when you taste how awesome those shots are coming out :-)
Last, practice to clean up everything in 2 minutes, so it's looks spotless.
And have fun!
You can do a lot in your prep time. More than one would think. You can even start to prep your sig. drink. Like start cooking stuff up on the hot plate, but no ingredients in the cups. I think the most important thing is to diagram and organize your cart so that when you roll out you can spend more time dialing in your espresso and less time with your table settings. You can heat your cups, but you can't leave water in them. But get that espresso dialed in that is the most important thing!
Good Luck

Sam
Clean clean clean your station before you set up, then set your cups on the machine to warm first! Then pull shots, then set up the judges table.

I found that I didn't practice my set up time enough, and I ended up rushing at last second to pull shots :/

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