Preparing for Knoxville

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January 31, 2017 by saltdogsducttape

This is a little late, but it’s intended to be a reflection on my preparations for the 2017 US Barista Championships in Knoxville, TN. There will be another post reflecting on my time at the competition.

For the past two months I have been drinking espresso like it’s my job. I know, it is my job, or at least part of it. Since early December I have been preparing for the US Barista Championships in Knoxville, TN. This will be my first time in this kind of competition.

There’s a good chance the majority of people have never heard about this competition. That’s fine, but it’s kind of a big deal. Out of 120 competitors in two qualifying events the top 36 will advance to Nationals.

For those unfamiliar with barista competitions, here are some basics. In ten minutes you serve espressos and a signature drink to four judges. There are also two technical judges watching your every move. Seems pretty simple, right? In that format you’re supposed to convey specific information at specific times about your coffee.

During one of my practice sessions I got a piece of constructive criticism from Brian that really hit home. Throughout my presentation I kept referring to “we.” I’m pretty sure “we” was referencing Summit Coffee Co. I didn’t mean to but in those early practices it was something of a security blanket. I was half in, half out. Think about it, if you’re working on a group project and saying “we” all the time what you’re actually doing is deflecting responsibility. It was time for me to commit to the process and say “I.”

Like many people I had a life B.C. (before coffee). It can sometimes be hard to hear “Oh, cool so you’re a barista now?” On the surface the last few weeks have been about preparing for a competition. During that time I also embraced being a coffee professional, and I couldn’t be happier.


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