Crush the Rush—an event from La Marzocco focused on speed, efficiency, and fun—will hit nine cities across the USA this summer, starting tonight in Portland, Ore.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of La Marzocco USA
Bar flow, speed, and efficiency may not be among the most discussed topics in specialty coffee, but they’re undeniably important—an efficient coffee bar can lead to happier customers and employees, higher tips and profits, and much more.
Efficiency is at the heart of a brand-new competition launched by La Marzocco USA called Crush the Rush, which debuted earlier this month in Seattle and will hit the road this summer. In the competition, eight teams (of three baristas each) compete head-to-head as they race to complete eight espresso drinks in the fastest time. At the end of the night, the winning team is awarded the Crush the Rush trophy and $300.
Scott Callender, VP of marketing and consumer strategy for La Marzocco USA, says the company created the competition to bring the spotlight to efficiency—a topic often discussed at La Marzocco. “We felt that it would be a perfect time to create a competition that was focused on fun and a part of the barista’s job that hasn’t received as much focus,” Scott says. “We wanted to develop an event series that would get baristas thinking about how to use their skill and the technology of the machine to create consistently great-tasting and great-looking drinks in the shortest amount of time possible.”
Baristas across the country will get a chance to Crush the Rush this summer as La Marzocco takes the event on a nine-city U.S. tour, beginning tonight at Black Rabbit Service Co. in Portland, and concluding August 14 in Denver. (See the full itinerary and Eventbrite links to register below.) Scott says the itinerary was designed to hit as many thriving barista communities as possible. “As we started going through the process, there were more places that we wanted to go than we could possibly get to in one summer,” he says. “It is super exciting to see how many cities really have great barista culture out there!”
Teams competing in Crush the Rush will aim to deliver eight perfectly made drinks to the judges’ table faster than their opponents. The fastest team from each heat will move on to the next round. In each round, a new surprise will await the competitors to increase the difficulty. As the competition focuses on efficiency, teams will need to optimize their workflow, roles, and responsibilities in order to improve their speed. Each team will be competing on a La Marzocco Strada AV with scales that will need to be programmed in order to maximize efficiency and accuracy.
Scott says the event will give people a chance to experiment with La Marzocco’s Strada AVs with scale technology. “The built-in scales on the Strada and Linea PB are incredible tools for increasing a bar’s efficiency, consistency, and customer interaction,” he says. Scott adds that while the competition will give competitors a chance to team with their friends in a lively atmosphere, it also may generate new ideas for ideal bar flow. “Seeing all of the different techniques for busting through a series of drinks should give people lots of ideas about how to organize their bars and people,” he says.
The full list of Crush the Rush stops is below. Those interested in competing can register their three-person team on the Eventbrite page; each city will be capped at eight teams. Team registration costs $30 and will open two weeks prior to each event. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested on the corresponding Facebook event page.
Portland— June 26
San Francisco—July 2
Los Angeles—July 6
Washington, D.C.—July 30
Kansas City—August 10
Scott adds that if Crush the Rush isn’t stopping in your city this summer, there may be hope for the event to come there down the line. “If people enjoy the competition, we will certainly look at trying to do more in the future,” he says.