In addition to its next event—January 26 event in Sweden—The Barista League will host competitions in Croatia and the USA in 2019, with some new additions to the format.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Following a successful USA tour this summer, The Barista League has announced its next fun-filled competition. The Barista League: Helsingborg will take place January 26 in southern Sweden, hosted by Koppi Coffee Roasters.
The event marks a return to Scandinavia, where The Barista League hosted its first competitions in 2015. Founder Steve Moloney (who graces the cover of the December 2018 + January 2019 issue of Barista Magazine) says that after taking the competition across the pond, it was important to him to return The Barista League to its roots and local community in Sweden. “Even as we grow and do more events outside of Scandinavia, I wanted to keep one foot here, close to all of the amazing people and companies that have supported us since the very beginning,” Steve says.
Since its debut in 2015, The Barista League has created competitions that “break down barriers to participation and enable real connections within our industry,” according to its website. The competitions are designed to test baristas’ skills, but are also imbued with a playful atmosphere—in short, Barista League events are always a good time. The competition in Helsingborg will feature 12 teams of baristas in three diverse rounds of competition: a drink menu challenge; a sensory round of matching coffees; and a mystery round that The Barista League team is keeping under wraps.
As The Barista League expands, the organizers are adding new wrinkles to the format, and The Barista League: Helsingborg will introduce some new wrinkles for 2019. One of these will be The Barista League Brew Bar, which was trialed at The Barista League: Oslo in 2018, and allows attendees to jump behind the competition machine and test drive the same equipment and challenges as the competitors. “Everyone who comes to our events is at the end of the day a barista, so creating a brew bar where they can test all the same equipment, make some coffee, and challenge their friends seems like an idea we should have thought of ages ago,” says Steve.
Another new addition for 2019 is that The Barista League will publish environmental impact reports from all of their events in an effort to focus more attention on how they consume materials; these reports will begin with the Helsingborg event. “Reporting on and publishing environmental reports is partly about pushing ourselves to be better and also signaling that we as coffee people can do so much better,” Steve says. “We waste so many paper cups, so much water, so much electricity to rinse paper filters, especially at competitions. … We want to put more emphasis on being more sustainable as an event and also as professionals, and this is our way of doing it.”
A final change for the 2019 Barista League events is in the prizes: Rather than having individual prizes for each event, there will be one major prize for the winners of the three official Barista League competitions. The second Barista League 2019 event will take place May 24 in Zagreb, Croatia, while the third competition will take place in the USA; Steve hopes to announce the date and location during The Barista League party at April’s Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston.
Tickets for The Barista League: Helsingborg are on sale now at The Barista League’s website—discounted early bird tickets are available until Jan. 1. All ticket proceeds will be donated to the charity Grounds for Health, which works to increase coverage of women’s health care in coffee-producing countries. For interested competitors, team registration for The Barista League: Helsingborg opens on Dec 10 at 9 a.m. CET—and be warned, it will fill up fast!