I really love barista competition. I think it’s fun, interesting but also powerful – for individuals and for our industry, helping develop the way coffee is served, the way it’s consumed and even the way coffee is grown.
When talking about it I often find a common complaint – that competition isn’t directly relevant to the working barista and that the skills it develops have limited application in a world where most people don’t sit quietly for 15 minutes drinking things in a specific order
I believe competition actually teaches a skill that is more relevant to the working barista than most of the technical gains we highlight – the process of crafting, refining and curating an experience – building a story and seeing if it resonates
Selling a story or message in a limited timeframe is the reality of any business that strives to stand out in terms of quality – we all want products that speak for themselves but the ability to frame, to highlight and communicate are key to true service
As brewing technology and techniques continue to improve the role of the barista also develops, with less focus on dosing and mechanical skills and more on service, knowledge and people skills – I think this is exciting
the job title ‘user interface designer’ common in tech businesses is apt – it demonstrates an awareness that the thing they’re selling is used by people, and should be usable, understandable and developed with this in mind – in service the process of focusing on the cues we give, how presentation influences customer decisions, the crafting of an experience that guides someone the way you need them to go all have relevance here
Defining and designing and refining the user experience are what we do, in bars, in roasteries and in training