Calling All Bartenders & Baristas: The Licor 43 Challenge is On!

Contestants at the Bartender & Barista Challenge pose as a group in the Canary Islands.

International baristas and bartenders will compete for the global title in Cartagena, Spain.


One of the most fun and creative beverage competitions is back for its eighth year: The Licor 43 Bartender & Barista Challenge will take place in September in Cartagena, Spain!

Having attended this competition when it was held in the Canary Islands a few years ago, I can attest to the spirit and joy the event brings out in the participants, who hail from around the world: After winning their regional competitions taking place this summer, international coffee and spirits ambassadors will gather in Spain to spend several days completing complex, creative, and exciting challenges wherein they craft original drinks using the Licor 43 line of spirits and specialty coffee.

Gabriela Wong champion of the Bartenders & Baristas Challenge holding a Costa Rican flag.
Gabriela Wong Arias of Costa Rica won the Licor 43 Bartender & Barista Challenge in Madrid, Spain, in 2023. Photo courtesy of Licor 43.

“There’s so much to explore when it comes to the natural marriage of aromas and flavors between Licor 43 and coffee, and actually this leads to some really interesting areas for our bartending community to dig into in more detail,” says Blanca de la Infiesta, chief marketing officer for spirits at Zamora Company. “Cartagena is not only the hometown of Licor 43 but also the city where one of the very first combinations of Licor 43 and coffee was born, the Café Asiático—now the Carajillo 43 is exploding around the world—so we’re excited to see what else we can inspire with our agenda this September!”

The Bartender & Barista Challenge-winning drink from 2023 served in a glass next to a bottle of Licor 43.
The 2023 Bartender & Barista Challenge-winning drink by Gabriela Wong Arias, Capital Vice, included Licor 43, brandy, pineapple cordial, and cold-brew coffee infused with nutmeg and cardamom. Photo courtesy of Licor 43.

How the Challenge Works

Global finalists from Licor 43’s nine key markets—Germany, Mexico, USA, Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia, Estonia, Peru, and Costa Rica—will spend their time in Cartagena immersed in three days of workshops and with renowned spirits and coffee experts, as well as the winners of the last seven editions of the competitions, culminating in the grand finale on the final day.

The winner of the 2024 Bartender & Barista Challenge will receive two tickets to their nearest Bar Convent Fair, choosing between USA, Germany, and Brazil, with accommodations and travel expenses. In addition, they will be welcomed as a judge next year at the 2025 Bartender & Barista Challenge by Licor 43, and will become the Licor 43 Coffee Master for 2024, appearing with the brand at key international shows.

A table decorated with numerous potential ingredients including fruit and alcohol. Additional fruit is stacked in front of the table.
Some of the ingredients competitors have to work with throughout the challenges over the course of the event. Photo by Sarah Allen.

Past tasks presented to the regional winners at the international Bartender & Barista Challenge have included a Mystery Box, in which competitors have a limited time to create an original drink using random ingredients such as local fruits and nuts, sugars, syrups, and spices combined with coffee and one of Licor 43’s multitude of spirits. In another challenge, competitors are given a set amount of money to purchase ingredients from a local market to use in a drink design.

Contestants search for ingredients among a huge selection of fruits.
One activity competitors participate in is shopping for ingredients at the local market. Photo by Sarah Allen.

Competitors are judged on the taste, visual appeal, complexity, and appropriate use of coffee and Licor 43 in their drinks. And the 2024 Bartender & Barista Challenge is set to be the most advanced to date. Adds Bianca, “This year is going to be a real exchange of ideas from around the world, and a look to the future of our bartending industry as well.”

Are You Up for the Challenge?

Interested coffee and spirits professionals may now enter via this link or through the Licor 43 website. They can also contact with questions.

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About Sarah 934 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.