UK Barista Championship

The Barista Championship is considered the hardest of the SCAE competitions, testing your coffee knowledge, presentation, preparation and all round barista ability. The winner of this years competition will represent the UK at the World Barista Championships

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Frequently Asked Questions

Need an answer to a crucial question about any of the competitions? Just drop us an email and we'll aim to get back to you within 24 hours. info@scaeuk.com
We've got a whole bank of past entrants to answer your burning questions, or have a read through our FAQ's – the answer may already be there!

What machines will I be using?

The machines are supplied by our machine sponsor San Remo. The Verona TCS is one of Sanremo’s flagship machines, incorporating design led aesthetics with cutting edge technology and functionality. The Verona TCS is a platform from which to produce the very highest of standards in espresso based coffees and associated hot drinks. At its heart is SanRemo’s innovative TCS system (Temperature Stability Control).

  • They have individual group head stability, > 0.5oC temp fluctuation no matter how hard the machine is being worked (which is handy at the barista competitions!).
  • They also have a built in shot timer, which will be visible during the regional heats, but covered during the semis and the final. If you are of semi-finalist standard this should not be a problem!
  • There is also a programmable pre infusion. If you would like to alter this please be sure to speak to David from San Remo – who will be looking after the back stage area. He must know about this, or it could affect the next baristas performance.


What temperature are the machines set at?

The group head temp is pre-set at 93.5oC. You should work with your blend at this temperature during your practice.

Can I bring my own grinder?

Yes. Grinders are provided but we know sometimes people like to stick to what they know. You will be able to take it onto the stage in your set up time. You can take a maximum of 2 grinders on stage.

Where can I find recipes for my signature drink?

You need to develop your own drink for the competition. Copying someone else’s is a bad idea – we want to see that you have the skills to develop your own, and understand your blend enough to know what will work well with it. Also, the judges may have tasted the copied one before! If you do need some inspiration you can look online. There are also a few books on the subject that may be useful:

What about milk?

Our Milk sponsor provides milk which you are free to use, but you are of course welcome to bring your own. We wouldn't want Daisy to be upset...

How long do I get to practise on the machines?

Each entrant has an official 15 minute slot to practise on a machine back stage before their 15 minutes set up time on stage. This is when you can get your grinder set, lay your table, and make any last minute tweaks.

What happens if I go over my 15 minutes for UKBC?

You will lose a point for every second you go over your 15 minutes - up to 16 minutes - and then we're afraid you are disqualified.

We don't have a La Spaziale S40 at work - where can I practise on one?

We will bring you news of where and when you can practice on the S40's shortly.

There are a number of people offering use of the machines around the country. Drop us an email and we will put you in touch with your nearest one.

What do I need to bring?

For this competition you need to bring everything you want to use other than the machines and the grinder, unless you want to bring your own grinder. So, your beans (of course!), cups, table settings, water glasses, tampers, cloths...refer to the rules.

Do I need professional training?

It's up to you! As long as you hone your skills, and READ THE RULES thoroughly you should be fine. The competitions are as much about learning as they are about winning, and of course about meeting people! You can speak to your coffee supplier, or other people you know in the industry for advice, or get in touch with past entrants and other UK baristas though the Facebook group and the many coffee blogs! The coffee industry is full of people wanting to spread the love and share their knowledge, tap into it and make some new friends!

There will be a number of barista training days taking place in the run up to the competitions - Keep an eye on www.scaeuk.com for announcements.

How much practising should I do?

Again, this is completely up to you. We recommend getting yourself used to your presentation, and then as you become more confident start presenting to your colleagues and friends. It can be daunting being on the stage in front of the judges and the audience, so the more use to this you are, and the more you have been through your presentation the better.

Remember, things can go wrong, past entrants have dropped all four cappuccinos on the way to the judges, broken a glass, or forgotten what they wanted to say. Think how you would cope if this happened to you and what you can do as back up before hand. Spare cups are a good place to start!

What if I forget something?

What you do in your 15 minutes competition time is up to you. If you have left your jugs in the training room (don't worry, you won't be the first!) YOU (just you, not your friend or a helper) can run and get them, but the clock will keep ticking so be as quick as you can, and remember the room could be a long way away! And, remember; don't talk to anyone as this still counts as your performance, even if you are not actually on stage!

If you completely forget to bring something with you ask around before you start, someone may have what you are looking for and be willing to lend it to you. We know of people who have practised packing their kit! Lists of what you need down to water jugs and teaspoons as a key at this stage!

Can I talk to the judges?

Yes and no. You need to talk through your presentation to tell the judges why you have chosen your beans, how your signature drink was developed etc. However, the judges will not enter into any conversation with you (not because they are mean, but because they are not allowed to!). If you need to ask a question during your set, you can only address it to the Head judge. You are also forbidden from communicating to anyone in the audience (e.g. can you run and get my jug...). This can lead to disqualification!

I've never made a signature drink - how do I know where to start?

Have a think about things that go well with coffee - all the obvious ones like caramel, orange, nuts... think about drinks you may have tasted and expand on those. Look online and at previous entrants recipes to see what they have used - but don't copy them - the judges want to see originality! REMEMBER the drink must taste primarily of coffee otherwise you will lose points - it's what the competition is about! Try and chose ingredients that work well with the blend you have chosen. You should be able to tell the judges why you have chosen the ingredients you have, and why they work well with your blend.

What happens if I win?

Well, now that is a question! If you win, you will go on to represent the UK as our champion in the World Championships - which will be held in Seattle, USA in April 2015. You will receive the support and advice from the UKBC committee and the wider UK speciality coffee industry!   You will also be asked to take part in PR occasions and other events for the SCAE UK and our Sponsors. Lots of people will want to talk to you, so be prepared for the offers to come flooding in!

If I don’t understand something in the rules who can I ask?

Simply email info@scaeuk.com and one of the committee members will get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.

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