This weekend, when you've grown weary of watching, and getting anxious for, athletes competing in Sochi, maybe take a break and head to Lot 613 in the Arts District of Downtown to watch a decidedly different sort of competition: almost 50 baristas, including local folks from G&B Coffee, Handsome Coffee Roasters, Copa Vida, Cafe Demitasse and Intelligentsia Coffee, will be participating in the Big Western Regional Barista Competition.

The event starts today (Friday, Feb. 21) – the first competitor goes on at 10:45 a.m. – and ends on Sunday, Feb. 23; if your anxiety prevents you from leaving your couch, though, note that the competition, like the Olympics, will be streamed live online. Is watching baristas pour their hearts out as exciting as watching four men race down a track in a bobsled? Maybe.
If you do stream the competition, you won't have a Bob Costas-like guide to explain the finer points of this particular contest; thus it'd probably help to know that competing baristas will have 15 minutes to prepare 12 drinks (four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks) for a panel of judges.

Their drinks and presentation will be judged on various sensory (i.e., the “consistency and persistence of crema” in an espresso) and technical (i.e., whether the barista cleaned the steam wand after steaming the milk) details. In addition to this barista competition, there also is a separate contest – the Brewers Cup  –  where pour-over cones and other manual brew methods will be showcased and evaluated.

The top six baristas in the barista competition and the top three in the Brewers Cup will head to Seattle in April for the U.S. Barista Championship to compete against other top baristas from other regions of the country.  The winners there will then represent the United States in the World Barista Championship, which – surprise – is also known as the Olympics of coffee. Bobsleds optional.

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