Have you ever wondered who is the person behind the espresso machine, who takes a few raw ingredients - coffee, water, and milk - and turns them into the magical beverage that you so often hold in your hands? This person is called a barista, and in the past ten years a rapidly emerging global barista culture has elevated the status of coffee making to that of a sommelier, host, and chef. The barista is the only link between the customer and every other facet of the coffee's past journey, from the seed to the cup. The coffee that you are enjoying during your daily ritual has passed from the farmers and harvesters, to millers and sorters, and finally to green coffee buyers and roasters, before reaching the barista.
The baristas’ craft is celebrated in many ways, from public tastings in your local coffee shop, to informal latte art “throw-downs,” to international coffee-making competitions that draw competitors and spectators from over fifty countries around the world. Besides coffee brewing competitions, latte art and coffee tasting competitions have also emerged, challenging the barista in artistic and sensory skills. Here is a selection of world-wide competitions for baristas: