Bridgehead Barista Cup: Rules and Format Improvements

Remember how I tacked on to the rules & regs for the barista cup that they were subject to change with notice on this blog? Well I ought to be sleeping right now, but my mind turned toward how the competition can be improved upon its current format and I had a few great ideas! Allow me to share…

1. Change in the structure of the sensory scoresheet to improve consistency and fairness of judging

I’ve been concerned about the fact that we’re going to have a one day competition and whoever gets the highest score in this “round robin” will be the Champion. Given that we’re going to need two teams of judges, proper calibration in such a situation would require a lot of downtime between competitors. I’m hoping to fix this by adjusting the way the sensory judges score.

2. I’m also going to change the format such that competitors will be assigned their coffees two weeks before competition. Competitors will be evaluated on their ability to learn about their coffee and relay information to the judges in a new score called Research and Knowledge (see below).

The following is an outline of what the new sensory scoresheet will look like:

Espresso Evaluation

Visual Appearance [1 -4]

An evaluation the persistence of crema, the consistency of the crema’s colour and the overall colour of the crema.

1 = Acceptable
2 = Average
3 = Good
4 = Excellent

Taste Balance [1 -4]

A strict evaluation of the taste balance of the espresso (sweetness, bitterness, sourness, acidity). There should be a pleasant balance of bitters and sweetness, with no sourness and a pleasant acidity.

1 = Very unbalanced
2 = Unbalanced
3 = Balanced
4 = Very Balanced

Tactile Quality [1-4]

An evaluation of the tactile qualities of the espresso. A higher score will be rewarded for an espresso with a full mouthfeel and syrupy body without dilution.

1 = Acceptable
2 = Average
3 = Good
4 = Excellent

Accurate and Comprehensive Tasting Notes [1-4]

An evaluation of the tasting notes the barista delivers to the judges. The tasting notes should include information on the taste qualities (acidity, sweetness and bitterness), the tactile qualities (syrupy, dense, creamy, etc) and the aromas/flavours. The barista will be scored on the accuracy and completeness of these tasting notes, which themselves are developed during the preparation time.

1 = Acceptable
2 = Average
3 = Good
4 = Excellent

Cappuccino Evaluation

Visual Appearance [1 -4]

An evaluation of the milk’s texture, gloss and lack of bubbles, as well as the contrast, symmetry and “centered-ness” of the presentation.

1 = Acceptable
2 = Average
3 = Good
4 = Excellent

Taste Balance [1 -4]

A strict evaluation of the taste balance of the cappuccino (sweetness, bitterness, sourness, acidity). There should be a prominence of milk sweetness with minimal bitters and and no sourness.

1 = Very unbalanced
2 = Unbalanced
3 = Balanced
4 = Very Balanced

Tactile Quality [1-4]

An evaluation of the tactile qualities of the cappuccino. A higher score will be rewarded for a cappuccino with a full, luscious, silky and creamy mouthfeel.

1 = Acceptable
2 = Average
3 = Good
4 = Excellent

Accurate and Comprehensive Tasting Notes [1-4]

An evaluation of the tasting notes the barista delivers to the judges. The tasting notes should focus on the behavior of the espresso in the milk, including how the flavours come through and how the tastes develop. The barista will be scored on the accuracy and completeness of these tasting notes, which themselves are developed during the preparation time.

Presentation Scores

Professionalism/Dedication/Passion [1-4]

The first score is an evaluation of the barista’s ability to present their drinks with energy and to create an authentic, emotionally attached experience for the judges. The barista should demonstrate a professional interest in coffee and a dedication to the craft.

Research and Knowledge [1-4]

This is a new score that will reward competitors for researching their coffee in advance of the competition and relaying information to the judges. To accomplish this, I’m going to change the format of the competition a little bit: Competitors will be informed of the coffee they will be assigned two weeks before the competition. In that time they will be expected to research the coffee, specifically with respect to agriculture and roasting. Any relevant information will aide in their score in this category. The reason for this change is my belief that to be a good barista one has to be in constant pursuit of knowledge with respect to the coffees you work with and the industry in general. This score is a test of the barista’s ability to gather relevant knowledge and to convey it to the judges during the performance.

Lastly, I’m hoping to have a video screen that will show the audience and competitors the scores and standards while the competition progresses (like in the Millrock latte art competitions). My concern here is that score awareness may affect the judging, so I’m going to think about this one for a while.

Ok, thanks for reading!

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