Prep Fest comes to Los Angeles, bringing together baristas and brewers to swap competition tips, share coffee, and learn from past and future competitors and judges.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Preliminary events are designed for baristas to get a feel for competition. As part of the United States Coffee Championships season, the 10 preliminary events across the country brought in new and old competitors to try out new techniques, test their skills in a different format (baristas and brewers have to work with compulsory coffees), and generally open up the competition world, which can be intimidating, especially for first-time competitors.
Prep Fest, an event hosted by Matthew Barahura of Intelligentsia Coffee and Ori Tuler of Equator Coffees & Teas, is meant to overcome those hurdles. “Prep Fest is designed to help those participating in the prelims, whether they’re competing, judging, or just thinking about it, be prepared for what to expect from the competition,” Matthew shares.
The event, which is open to all, will bring in folks with varying competition experience. Attendees will be able to ask questions, bounce ideas off each other, and build community in a sometimes competitive atmosphere. “In attendance will be judges from both competitions to speak about the rules and formats, as well as competitors to discuss practice tips and the dos and don’ts of competing,” says Matthew.
Prep Fest is meant to help competitors getting ready for the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., preliminary event in October, but is open to all who want to talk shop and maybe trade some coffee. “We’re encouraging people to bring one or two pounds of specialty-grade coffee to trade away,” Matthew shares. “Not only will this allow competitors a chance to dial in an unfamiliar coffee, it’s a great way to try something new. Whether you’re competing or just want to drink something different, bring a tasty bag and leave with something else!”
Along with swapping competition tips and coffee, attendees can also cut loose and participate in other events, including a ping-pong tournament with prizes going to the top finishers.