October 26, 2018

Newcomer Prize Category: Raising the standards, encouraging new talent

First Published - March 5, 2012 (By Steven – Co-Founder)

Our industry has seen a huge amount of change in the past few years: change across the board, from the top end independent scene to the larger corporate players.

In such a fast changing landscape, it’s important to embrace and harness the skills of the best people.

Competitions like the UKBC are a fantastic way of celebrating this, rewarding the UK country heat winner by propelling them onto the world stage, and also providing a shop window for the industry’s best talent. Such is the standard of this competition, it can often seem overwhelming and ‘not for me’ for many baristas out there who do a fantastic job day in-day out, but are keen to improve their skills to the best of their abilities.

Our Origin Trip competition was created to recognise this, and appeal to those baristas who might otherwise have had little chance of scoring as well as some seasoned competitors, and been put off entering.
This of course does not mean that they lack the enthusiasm or basic skills, but perhaps only the encouragement?

With something for the ‘new blood’ to aim for, we wanted to add another dimension to the competition with our Newcomer Category, and the best reward we could think of is a trip to origin, to further inform and excite the winner to a career (not a stop-gap job) in the coffee industry and the many challenges and complexities held within.
What better person to be able to help the coffee drinking consumer understand more about their daily brew, and better recognise quality coffee than the barista serving them every morning.

Attracting and importantly retaining new people into our industry is essential to improve standards. With the current debate on skills and learning in the workplace, and also with an ear to selected industry criticism that the competition was insular to it’s detriment, failing to deliver for and excite the industry, our aim is that our Newcomer category takes a step towards more positive engagement.

We intend to use learnings from this year’s activity through focused dialogue with competitors – see some responses already garnered in our Barista Q&A’s – to help further the aims of the competition in raising industry standards and getting greater numbers of knowledgeable baristas choosing coffee as a career, serving perfect drinks to their customers.
The more these customers appreciate and understand, the more will vote with their taste buds and choose speciality coffee.

Which we think is better for all of us.

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