Inaugural Richest Barista competition set to take place at MICE2023

mice richest barista

Global Coffee Report breaks down the inaugural Richest Barista competition, set to take place at the 10th anniversary of the Melbourne International Coffee Expo.

The international sporting world is renowned for the high-speed chase of Formula One, the skill and reputation of Grand Slam tennis tournaments, and the religious following of World Cup soccer, but only one sporting event in September will push baristas to the edge of their ability.

The 10th edition of MICE will see the inaugural Richest Barista competition take place over the three days of the expo, from 17 to 19 August at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Baristas will compete for the chance to win a share of the $40,000 prize pool in the knock-out style event. The winner will receive AUD$25,000 (about US$16,323), runner-up will take home AUD$10,000 (about US$6529), and third place will win AUD$5000 (about US$3265).

“The Richest Barista competition is a great opportunity for baristas to join a world-class competition and prove their ability,” says MICE Show Director Lauren Winterbottom. “We want to offer an exciting competition format, while giving baristas a chance to walk away with a significant amount of money that will make a difference in their lives.”

To advance through the competition, competitors must win in their head-to-head round. Each competitor will be paired with another, and they will both compete with the same flight of judges. After each pair, a winner will be decided based on the total score. The winner will advance to the next round, and the loser will be eliminated.

“Competitors must impress the panels of experienced judges in a knockout competition by showcasing world-class skill, talent, and showmanship in three coffee disciplines. Judges will be looking for accuracy and flawless execution, as well as completion of the rounds within the time limits. In the final round, competitors will be assessed on accuracy and speed,” Winterbottom says.

The competition is sponsored by water filtration company BRITA, espresso machine manufacturer Dalla Corte, alternative dairy company The Alternative Dairy Co., complete beverage brand Naked Syrups, and dairy company Riverina Fresh.

With more than 20 contestants taking part, let’s break down each round of the intense head- to-head competition.

Round one

Round one will comprise of a Barista competition. Baristas will compete two at a time and must pour a total of eight beverages in 12-minute periods, including two espressos, two milk drinks, two alternative milk drinks, and two signature drinks. Competitors will need to incorporate Naked Syrups’ beverage flavourings into their signature drinks. A winner will be immediately declared from each round.

Competitors will receive five minutes to set up and prepare their station before their competition time starts and will receive five minutes to clean their station following the performance time. There will be two flights of judges in round one. Each flight will consist of a Head Judge, two Sensory Judges and one Technical Judge.

Round two

Half of these baristas will progress onto round two, which will comprise of a Latte Art smackdown competition. Each competitor must pour a total of three beverages in 12 minutes, including a macchiato, traditional latte, and free pour latte. The pattern for the traditional latte will be chosen via a spinning wheel and will be either a heart, tulip, rosetta, or swan. For the macchiato and free pour latte, the competitor can choose a design they would like to produce. The free pour latte can include colour and etching. No images are required, and cups must match each other.

Competitors will receive five minutes to set up and prepare their station before their competition time starts and will receive five minutes to clean their station following the performance time. There will be one flight of judges in round two, consisting of a Head Judge and two Visual Judges.

Round three

The third and final round will comprise of a three- round Cup Tasting competition. Baristas will have to accurately and quickly identify which coffee out of the three triangulation groups, is the odd one out. Competitors will compete in two panels of four. The winners from each panel of four will compete in a final head-to-head round, where they will again be presented with three sets of three coffees and must choose the odd one out.

In round three, there is no set time limit. Winners will be assessed based on who can correctly guess the most coffees in the shortest amount of time. There will be one Head Judge in the third round.

The final winner will be determined by the Cup Tasting round, where the winner will correctly guess the most coffees in the shortest time period.

“This competition is designed to reflect the current requirements and skillset baristas demand in today’s competitive café market where standards are high, as is the expectation from customers,” says Winterbottom.

“We think it’s a fun and creative competition that will grow a global reputation in the years to come.”

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This article was first published in the July/August 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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