Important changes to the United Kingdom Barista Championship for 2019


The coffee competition world moves pretty fast, it only seems like a few months ago that we were crowning our 2018 UKBC champion, yet we’ve already had one 2019 competition and it’s time to think about the 2019 UK Barista Championships.

We’ve been working on the format for this year’s competition for the past few months, looking to improve on the 2018 season, but also to both address some burgeoning issues, increase access and open up the competition, with all of its benefits, to a wider audience. With this in mind, we’re changing the setup of the heats to closely follow the Preliminary events run as part of the United States Barista Championship (USBC). They will follow the relevant 2018 WBC Rules and Regulations and will be scored using elements from the 2018 WBC score sheets.

The format for each competitor presentation at the heats stage will be:

  • 15 Minute Setup Time
  • 7 Minute Competition Time to present:
    • 2 Espressos
    • 2 Milk Beverages
  • 5 Minute Clean-Up time

There will be:

  • 2 Sensory Judges
  • 1 Technical Judge
  • 1 Head Judge

Competitors will be allowed to use a coffee of their own choice, however, our roasted and green coffee sponsors; Grumpy Mule and Olam Specialty Europe, will also supply various options which competitors can choose from and use.

Supplies of crockery and equipment will be available at each heat if required by the competitors. Competitors may bring their own crockery and equipment is they wish. The machines being used at the heats are La Marzocco Strada 2 Groups. These will be fitted with 18g baskets and the machine temperature can be modified if requested before the start of the competition day. The provided grinders will be Victoria Arduino Mytho Two.  

The Semi-Finals and Finals rounds will then take on the standard WBC format.

We’ve taken this decision for three key reasons: 

  1. Competitor Numbers. We’d like to address the number of entries and dropouts. We've seen declining entries the past three years and each year we then see up to a third of entries drop out at the last minute. The reasons for this are many, but we feel that if we can increase access to the event by dropping costs and having more local heats, we'll see these numbers reverse.
  2. Timing: We just don't have much time this year. Both UKBC and Brewers Cup need to be finished by the end of February/early March 2019 in order to give our champions adequate time to prepare for the World Coffee Championships in Boston in April. The heats that we have run for many years are costly both fiscally and in people hours. Whilst the former is not a major concern, due to the generosity of the championship sponsors, the latter really is. Trying to do a full heat program in that time would stretch our resources to the limit, and possibly beyond.
  3. Physical Resources: Most people involved in the SCA UK are volunteers, from the committee and judges to the numerous helpers we have at all the events. We depend on volunteers to enable the events to take place. With so many events taking place each year we struggle with volunteer fatigue and are finding it harder to adequately cover them all. Smaller events use less judges and volunteers meaning we make better use of our resources as the year goes on.

Whilst date and venues are still being confirmed, our aim is to hold 5 or 6 heats covering as much of the country as is possible. In tandem with this, we will be reintroducing certificates for the top three competitors in each heat, as well as Best Espresso and Best Milk Beverage.

We’re actively working with our sponsors to help any competitors without deep resources to source coffees that are needed to do well in the UKBC. We will also look to have opportunities to interact with the official machines and grinders, to this end we’ll be announcing details of UKBC lead up events soon.

We hope you’ll agree that although these changes aren’t a perfect solution, they represent a step forward in making the UKBC more accessible to the next wave of competitors, judges and volunteers.

As always your questions and suggestions are welcomed: info@scaukcoffee

The SCA UK Committee


1 comment

  • Tim Sturk

    This is a great idea, congratulations for being brave enough to try something different. It is important to remember who this competition is for…it is for baristas. We need more baristas from all aspects of coffee service to step forward and have some fun. I know it is a cliche, but competing teaches us so much about ourselves and about coffee.

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