Competitions and Competitiveness

What it Means when Baristas Compete

By Tracy Ging

“What’s the deal with barista competitions?”

That, it seems, is a common question from some members of the coffee industry. Many people know what the competitions are, they understand how they work, but all-in-all, they find that the whole production resembles a Christopher Guest movie—while they have a general sense of the attention and excitement that the events generate, they don’t fully grasp the significance.

Part of that confusion may be because much of what occurs with barista events happens behind the scenes, and before and after the competition themselves. Barista events are, yes, places to show off skill sets, build a sense of pride, and get people excited, but they are much more than what they offer at face value. For starters, the competitions have garnered a substantial amount of press attention and most recently, media coverage for the World Barista Championship exposed the competitions to a potential audience of 56,825,000 people.

After Michael Phillips was named the 2010 World Barista Champion, SCAA issued a press release. Yahoo! news picked up the post. Their site receives 56,825,000 visitors per day. From there, a host of publications latched onto the story, including business journals in Austin, Boston, Phoenix, Orlando, Charlotte, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, Cincinnati…you get the picture. Then there were stories on BBCtv, in the New York Times, in Business Week, special appearances, local media coverage, bloggers, trade publications, and so on. People love coffee and as such, the media loves coffee. To read the rest of this article, subscribe to The Chronicle or become a member today! If you’re already a Chronicle subscriber or member, please login.

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