What happens at SCASA coffee competitions March 10 2016

Whenever we meet bystanders at our competitions the first thing they ask is, "What's going on here?". Once we explain to them that it is a coffee competition for baristas competing for a place at Nationals and ultimately to be SA Barista Champ they then ask, "What do they have to do?". So here is a summary of what happens at SCASA coffee competitions.

There are three competitions: Latte Art Champs, Cup Tasters Champs, and Barista Champs. Let's break these down for you.

Latte Art Champs

Image : Coffey & Cake

Barista competing in the latte art champs have to submit to images of latte art that they are going to replicate. They have two pour for each design. One is a free pour where they just use the motion of their wrist to make a pattern, and the other is a design pour where they can use an etching tool to create something amazing.

They present their best one out of each category to the judges.

Cup Tasters Champs

Image : Coffey & Cake

This competition looks very different to the rest, because it is not done behind the espresso machine. Rather it is a race (if you will) between two baristas to taste 8 sets of 3 coffees and choose the odd one out in each set. It is great fun to watch as baristas aren't tasting espresso coffee, it is ground coffee with tempered water poured over and the residue is removed. Baristas slurp up the coffee using what looks like a soup spoon.

The barista who gets the most right in the fastest time is the Cup Tasters Champ.

Barista Champs

Image : Coffey & Cake


This is probably the most well known of the competitions but here's what really goes down. Each barista gets 15 minutes to prep their area. During this time they set out their display table and make sure all their equipment is ready, neat and tidy. Then they get 15 minutes to perform their set. This is timed to background music and in this set they have to produce 3 courses to 4 sensory judges. They have technical judges watching their technique at the same time so you can image, the pressure is high. 

The 3 courses are the espresso, the cappuccino, and the signature drink. While making each course they are speaking the judges through the coffee they use, where it was sourced from, and all the information about why they chose this coffee and what the judges should taste in each course.

These competitions are great fun to watch, and as the clock ticks they can become quite exciting as you cheer for the baristas to finish in time. Not only are they fun, but they give baristas the opportunity to learn from each other, gain more confidence, and get to know coffee better.

So now that you know what happens at the SCASA coffee competitions, we urge you to get to the next competition happening in your city. We look forward to seeing you there.

Gauteng Competition
Food & Hospitality Africa at Gallagher Estate in Midrand
3-5th May. 

Eastern Cape Competition
Homemakers Expo. The Boardwalk Exhibition Centre 
28th - 31st July