The barista-efficiency battle is coming back for a summer tour providing a competition and learning experience.
BY KATRINA YENTCH
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of La Marzocco USA
Last summer was heated as La Marzocco launched its first ever team-based barista competition Crush the Rush. Hitting 10 cities across the U.S.A. with speed-efficient head-to-head battles, the crew drove over 10,000 miles and awarded 10 teams with $300 prize allowances. This year, with sponsorship from Mazzer, Pacific Foods, and Puqpress, Crush the Rush 2: Straight into Summer returns with a spirited, colorful marketing campaign and a few twists that’ll open up the event to coffee folks who aren’t fond of competing but just as eager to be a part of the festivities.
This year, the focus is still on “bar flow efficiency, technology, and fun,” but expect a newly formatted competition. La Marzocco is visiting five fewer cities (10,000 miles may have been an ambitious amount to drive the first time around), but the amount of teams competing opens up from eight to 20 this time, allowing more baristas to participate this time around.
Competitors will make eight drinks as fast as they can on a two-group La Marzocco KB90 with scales (competitors will need to program these scales for efficiency), the new Mazzer Robur S, and the Puqpress Q2; the top eight teams will move on to the finals that same evening. The finals, which are open to the public, include the same bracketed competition style from last year, along with some side-work challenges—an all-too-realistic part of life behind the bar. The grand prize consists of $300 and an epic trophy.
If you think you have what it takes to compete, you can sign up as a three-person team for free 15 days before your city’s event here, but be sure to read the rules before committing to the game. Team sign-ups are closed for Crush the Rush’s first stop in Seattle on Friday, but you can still attend as a Learner.
Seattle—Friday July 12 (Tickets live now)
San Francisco—July 25 (Tickets live July 11)
New York City—August 9 (Tickets live July 25)
Chicago—August 23 (Tickets live Aug. 8)
Nashville, Tenn.—September 6 (Tickets live Aug. 22)
A new element to this year’s Crush the Rush is Learning Sessions, where attendees will have the chance to participate in a series of hands-on workshops and presentations that benefit the barista. Topics will range from ergonomics to bar workflow, coffee research, and barista health; occupational therapists/yoga instructors will also be on board to give advice on pre- and post-shift stretches.
“As we were analyzing last year’s tour, we realized that we wanted to expand the event to allow for more people to participate outside of the competition itself,” explains Scott Callender, VP of marketing and consumer strategy for La Marzocco USA. “The Learning Sessions were created as a way to provide the latest thinking in workflow, efficiency, ergonomics, and tech to anyone in the local coffee communities that we visit.”
These sessions require registration in advance, and more details about every stop’s featured speakers will be released two weeks prior to their scheduled dates on La Marzocco USA’s Instagram.
If you think you can take the heat as a competitor or an attendee, you definitely don’t want to miss the summer fun behind Crush the Rush, which also promises a killer soundtrack to dance along to come finals round.