Ever seen any of the Food Network Challenges on TV? Barista competitions are like that, featuring coffee professionals who are extremely serious and knowledgable about coffee and who elevate coffee preparation to levels most people don’t know exist.
However, on the Food Network the MC does almost all the talking. The chefs, for the most part, just cook. At barista competitions, not only are they making drinks you’ll never ever find on a Starbucks menu, they’re talking you through the process, educating you on the beans they’ve chosen, the quality of the other ingredients, their technique. You won’t see flashy showmanship, per se. No one juggles the milk pitchers. The demeanor of the espresso competitors is refined. They move with measured, unhurried confidence. They speak of the exacting work done by coffee farmers and roasters before the barista ever lays eyes on the beans and how it is the barista's responsibility to prepare drinks that are worthy of that.
On August 29 and 30 in Victoria, Canada, the 2009 Western Regional Canadian Barista Championships were held. According to CanadianBaristaAcademy.com:
"Each competitor must prepare and serve 12 separate espresso beverages: 4 espresso, 4 cappuccinos, and 4 "signature" drinks of their own creation. Competitors have only fifteen minutes to prepare all twelve drinks and are judged on various elements including station cleanliness, taste, beverage presentation, technical skills and total impression by a distinguished panel of judges."
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