How to select coffee for competition?

Updated: Nov 28

What coffee would you use? This is one of the most difficult and important choices a competitor makes. That coffee must represent your vision of the specialty industry. It has to be exceptional. It has to intrigue the most discerning judges and stand out among dozens of other coffees they will be drinking that day.


For the selection of competition coffees we look for sensory parameters that are expressive and full-flavored, that contain complexity in their tastes, and that express themselves clearly and distinctly. However, a competition coffee is that coffee destined to be used in one of the different regional, national and international championships of the coffee industry, and can vary according to the entity that organizes them.


However, for the selection of a specialty coffee, the regulations of the WCE (World Coffee Events), the organizing and regulating entity at a world level of specialty coffee championships, are taken as a judge.


Thus, for a coffee sample, both for the barista championship and for the filtered coffee championship, the judges are looking for a passionate professional with service skills, high knowledge of coffee, and who inspires other baristas. The filtered coffee championship seeks to promote manual methods and requires the participants to have a wide knowledge of the raw material in order to be able to extract the best elements that compose it: aroma and flavor, where coffee and water are the only ingredients and the barista through his technique and experience, invites the consumer to discover the diversity of the same coffee.


In the barista and filtered coffee championships, the judges evaluate certain parameters in the beverage and the presentation of the barista. On behalf, the crema and body must be consistent in the espresso, the coffee flavor descriptors they communicate must match the beverage being served to the judges, and the sweetness, acidity, and bitterness must be well balanced.


Their technical skills are evaluated by a pair of judges who will review the consistency, cleanliness, and precision of each movement. Four sensory judges will be the lucky ones to evaluate 16 beverages, classify them on a scale of 0 to 6, and are responsible for choosing the representative of this category at world level.


Certainly, producing coffees destined to be used in competitions requires meticulous care and registration at each stage of the process.


To begin to cultivate this type of coffee takes time, and the learning curve is ascending. Therefore, designing a competition coffee requires at least 3 years of development in terms of the plants to grow and be productive, and from then on it begins with processing tests to be applied to the coffees that will be used in the championships. It is a long process, that is to say, the impact of the processing variables on the final flavor of the coffee is learned.


The World Barista Championship is an opportunity to shape the trends of the specialty coffee industry. It can change the way we understand coffee, the origin, and our relationship with baristas and producers. It can redirect our attention to new issues and provoke discussions.


All baristas come prepared to demonstrate their vision for specialty coffee, and the coffee they choose is a key part of this.


Finally, it seems that baristas are not only opting for locally available coffees or coffees already processed on the farms, but are also getting involved in the production process to exert their influence, from the very first moment to the final result, thus, the process requires attention and rigorous controls, however, the potential benefits are many, but nevertheless, there are risks involved. For this reason, it is recommended that baristas and producers work together to produce a winning coffee.

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