Baristas battle in Boston in U.S. coffee-making championship

Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:13am EDT
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By Daniel Lovering

BOSTON (Reuters) - Who is the emperor of espresso? The conqueror of cappuccino?

Dozens of baristas from across the United States have gathered in Boston this weekend to answer that question, in a contest of coffee-making skills where they will crown a national champion of their trade on Sunday.

More than 40 baristas qualified for this year's U.S. Barista Championship, which requires competitors to prepare espressos, cappuccinos and original beverages for four judges within a 15-minute period.

The contest, now in its 10th year, is part of a trade show hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, said Ric Rhinehart, the group's executive director.

Judges evaluate baristas on the quality of their drinks as well as their level of service. They consider factors including technical skill, efficiency and presentation.

While preparing beverages for judges sitting at a counter in a hangar-like room at the Boston Convention Center at an early round of the competition on Friday, competitors narrated the process and explained details about the coffee itself.

"It's a great way for baristas to really hone their craft and to take some pride," Rhinehart said. "Ultimately, we think, it makes a better, more positive coffee interaction for the consumer."

The baristas in Boston qualified at regional contests held across the country. The winner will travel to Melbourne, Australia, next month to compete against baristas from 57 other countries at the World Barista Championship.   Continued...