The Barista League: Online Rebrands as Battle of the Beans

The wildly successful YouTube-based competition returns as an interactive Zoom conference experience.


Cover photo courtesy of The Barista League

Among the many coffee groups brainstorming successful ways to host COVID-safe events in the digital sphere, The Barista League is one that has been innovating nonstop. From transforming their live competitions to a reality TV-style experience to hosting YouTube Live conferences, the gang has stayed relevant in the online event space. We’re incredibly excited and eager for The Barista League to be able to host live events again one day, but for now we’re looking forward to season three of their online competition.

With a snazzy new name, Battle of the Beans launches June 30 on YouTube, but via Zoom recordings. Unlike previous seasons, in which competition judges reacted afterward to submissions and videos, all participants will have the opportunity to interact with one another live through Zoom calls during each challenge. “We wanted to create a space for competitors to meet special guests and judges and be able to chat with each other and our hosts in real time which the Zoom platform lends itself to very well,” explains Angela Ferrara, communications director at The Barista League. Instead of six, Battle of the Beans consists of four competitors this time around. “Each new season has been an evolution of the one that came before it,” explains TBL founder Steve Moloney.

The hosts and judges for this season of Battle of the Beans are a few familiar faces you’ll recognize. TBL producer and director Carolyn West stars as a host alongside Well Grounded’s Aashifa Hussain, working with special guests including former The Barista League: Online host Cydni Patterson, 2020 U.S. Brewers Cup runner-up Lance Hedrick, and latte art champ Ujae Lee, along with plenty others. Your fierce competitors are Kimia Bergeson (Bremen, Germany), Marissa Childers (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), Addison Mathis (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), and Josh Shirtcliffe (Leicester, U.K.)—plus a TBA group of “backstage competitors” who will be receiving some of the same materials as the on-camera participants. “This time it’s all about interaction,” says TBL founder Steve Moloney. “We want the audience to feel like they are stepping behind the bar with us. There will be more connection between the competitors, special guests, and judges, and more opportunities to join in from your couch.”

A blow torch blows flames onto a rice cooker with a steam top basket on it wrapped in foil.
Last season’s challenges got wacky, including the roast-your-own coffee challenge. Photo taken as a screenshot.

In addition to competitor-judge interactions, The Barista League encourages the participation of all viewers and coffee lovers in the Battle of Beans. Throughout the 12-episode season, viewers will be invited to play along through challenges of their own, plus they’ll have the chance to grab some swag through giveaways. This season, the challenges only get wackier and harder. Try brewing espresso without water, picking out what alternative milk a beverage is made of, or creating a brew recipe that matches a cup score before even brewing it! This is just a small snippet of what the four competitors and company have to look forward to.

To kick off giveaway season, be sure to follow The Barista League on YouTube to be a part of the first one before Battle of the Beans kicks off, and find out what the prize is on their Instagram.

About Katrina Yentch 221 Articles
Katrina Yentch (she/her) is a freelance writer and Barista Magazine's Online Editor. When she's not writing, you can find her napping, cooking, and drinking whatever's on drip.