Building Community through Competition: A Look Inside the Activities Hall

….At the SCAA’s 25th Annual Exposition, The Event

Great communities can be built, and continue to grow and thrive, through competition. The specialty coffee community has embraced this idea. Baristas and other coffee professionals from throughout the country have defined their role as the frontlines of the specialty coffee industry and have used friendly competition to push each other forward in the areas of skill and service. Lessons learned in the United States Barista Competition (USBC), which is in its 10th year, have raised the bar for not just what we expect from ourselves, but also for what we strive to deliver to our customers back home. This year, in the Activities Hall at the 2013 Exposition, in addition to the USBC, we will also present the U.S. Brewers Cup, the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship, and the Roasters Guild Roasters Choice competition, as well as other features such as the BGA Café, which help foster this sense of community. Now is the best time in history to witness the skills that help define the specialty coffee industry on display and being pushed to greater and greater heights!

United States Barista Championship

The United States Barista Championship (USBC) is a platform for baristas to enhance their espresso beverage making skills through an exciting and challenging competition. In 15 minutes, the barista must prepare and serve espressos, cappuccinos, and a personally designed signature beverage for four sensory judges, all while being assessed on their preparation abilities by two technical judges. The USBC is more than a competition. It’s a place to develop community and meet other coffee lovers from across the U.S. Throughout the year, baristas from all across the country compete in six regional competitions to qualify for this national event, and the winner of the USBC will go on to represent the United States in the World Barista Championship.

United States Brewers Cup

The United States Brewers Cup is an exciting competition that highlights and celebrates the fine art of manual brewing. Competitors are judged in two rounds by skilled coffee tasters. The first round is a blind tasting; the competitors all brew the same coffee on their chosen manual devices. Those who advance to the second round will brew and present their chosen coffee to the judges’ panel. The winner of the U.S. Brewers Cup will represent the United States in the World Brewers Cup Championship.

United States Cup Tasters Championship

Different taste preferences are found in coffee cultures around the world, and the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship does not ask contestants to judge or evaluate coffee for these preferences. Instead, the competition challenges competitors to test their sensory skills by discerning taste differences in a “triangulation”. Tasters receive eight sets of three cups, or triangles, where two cups are identical and one is different. Testing the competitors’ ability to taste, smell, concentrate, and recall, those with the most correct answers in the shortest amount of time win.

Roasters Guild Roasters Choice Competition

The Roasters Guild’s annual Roasters Choice Competition is designed to highlight the art and craft of coffee roasting. The roaster’s ability to bring out the latent qualities of exceptional green coffees is at center stage. We are excited to expand the program in order to engage more attendees and create an atmosphere that promotes the craft of coffee roasting, as well as demonstrates the relationship potential between roaster and producer. To compete in the challenge, members of the Roasters Guild will submit single origin, washed, and roasted coffees. A panel of judges will vet the coffees and select the top ten in advance of The Event. Coffees will then be brewed and presented to Exposition attendees to judge in a blind tasting, allowing attendees to vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced, based on the results of the balloting, at the end of The Event.

The BGA Café

The Barista Guild of America (BGA) Café is at the very heart of this exciting center of activity. In the midst of the competitions, it is a place to get a cappuccino or espresso and talk to other spectators or even a USBC champion. The café features baristas from every corner of the United States, all of whom are BGA Level One Certified, and highlights coffees from roasters across the country. Now everyone can enjoy delicious coffee while watching the pros in action on stage!