What will you be doing this weekend? We know that we'll be spending part of the weekend watching #bigwestern on Twitter for updates on the Big Western Regional Barista Championship. The event is one of the regional qualifiers for the US Barista Championship, which is often known as the Barista Olympics. Portola Coffee Lab
, one of our favorite roasters, has been tapped to host the Big Western along with Wilbur Curtis, coffee equipment supplier. Portola will also be fielding baristas Truman Severson and Andrew Ogden in the competition. The top finishers in the Big Western will go on to compete in the USBC, which will take place at the SCAA convention in Seattle, April 24-27.
Each competing barista gets 15 minutes to prepare their best, often signature, espresso drinks and present them to a panel of certified judges. The judges rate the baristas on technical and sensory items -- and to make it all more fun, the baristas prepare their three courses of coffee set to music. The performances are a great melding of technical expertise and performance flourish.
The Big Western Regional also includes the regional qualifier for the US Brewer's Cup Championship, which features the best coffees from specialty coffee roasters around the country.
If you're in LA, you can have a ringside seat to the competition, which will take place at Lot 613, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday. You can also watch a livestream
of the event hosted by the US Coffee Championships, or follow the proceedings on Twitter using the hashtag #bigwestern. Best of luck to all the competitors -- and especially to Portola Coffee Lab and their baristas.