Less than 15 days to the competition, the hardest and by far the most stressful time of your entire preparation. It is crucial to organize yourself and your entire team to maximize your potential for the competition. “Once you are well organized – said André Eiermann, 10th place at 2017 WBC – you will be better prepared to handle the unexpected. This will allow you to fully concentrate on your role as a barista. You will also be more relaxed and therefore you will automatically perform better.”
During the last days before WBC it is important to stay focused. Is this correct?
Absolutely. Keep visualizing your vision and your goal. You might be far out of your comfort zone. You might also not only be a barista, but also a logistics and a project manager.
What are the prior points barista has to focus in?
To successfully go through this intense period, the following three points have been essential to me: Firstly you have to perfect your routine including all the equipment, the preparation and the practice time. Secondly you have to organize all the logistics, including your flights to, the accommodation in and the transportation within Amsterdam. Thirdly you have to get mentally prepared for the competition.
What baristas have to do in this time?
You have to work with your competition table setting and your real competition equipment. Perfect your routine: fine-tune your workflow to finish in 14 minutes 30 seconds. Make sure you have a round concept and that every point in your routine is logically explained. Do not leave any room for questions. Pay attention to every tiny little detail, for example how you fold your cleaning cloths.”
Now it is also time to start working on the “preparation time” including barista’s trolley layout.
A well thought-through preparation will make you more comfortable: after 4 minutes all equipment should be placed on your tables and the machine. This gives you enough time to dial in your coffee and to have a short break prior to your competition time. Now you should also define your backstage strategy for both the “Barista Base Camp” and the official “practice time”. Define the roles and tasks of each of your team member. Delegate in a direct and clear manner, so everybody knows exactly what to do and when to do. Start organizing your final probation with a big audience, real sensory and technical judges. Prepare like for the real competition with the real coffee and fixed timings. Put yourself under as much pressure as possible.
What about logistic?
Logistics might not be your favorite subject. But logistics are key for a smooth operation in Amsterdam. Request your visa on time. Book your flights in advance. Choose an accommodation close to the competition venue, that is big enough for all your equipment and that makes you feel at home. Borrow enough suitcases and organize sufficient packaging material to protect your equipment. Pack also enough cleaning material. Have enough spare items. Check upfront where you can buy important items in Amsterdam, in case of a breakage or loss. Clarify with the airline, that all goods are allowed on board of an airplane. Make a packing list for the transport to Amsterdam but also for the Barista Base Camp, the practice time as well for the competition time. Plan how to get from your home to the airport, and then from the airport in Amsterdam to your home-base. Plan how you travel to the “Barista Base Camp” and how you get to the “competition venue”. Make a detailed agenda with all important contact details, addresses and key dates and the respective times. Always be on time – plan more time. Better be too early than too late
And…. Once arrived in Amsterdam?
Once you arrive in Amsterdam you made it through the roughest time. Although it will continue to be very stressful, you should start enjoying it from now onwards. You made it already that far. You are already a champion. Visualize your journey: where have you started and where are you now. You have an amazing learning process behind you. Now stay focused and visualize your routine performance. Start to reduce the training in Amsterdam. Do not overdo it. Slow down. Work according to your plan and above all: work together with your team and enjoy the time in Amsterdam and embrace the competition.
André Eiermann. What about me:
My coffee journey started as a Junior Coffee Trader at Volcafe in Switzerland back in 1999. Shortly after having joined the coffee business I had been given the opportunity to live and work for Volcafe in Kenya and Tanzania. I spent most of my time in the cupping room and in the dry-mill. It was extraordinary to cup several hundred coffees a day. At the same time I frequently visited coffee farms and wet mills.
Although I had an amazing time in East Africa I decided to leave the coffee industry and to move to London to continue my studies. But quickly after I returned to the coffee industry. I started at Kraft Foods in Switzerland and was in charge of various European markets and several coffee categories, such as whole beans but also for the soluble coffee and the ready-to-drink category. During my last year at Kraft Foods I was responsible to relaunch a Swiss brand including a production transfer from Austria and Germany to Italy.
Currently I am working as a Marketing Director at UCC Coffee in Switzerland. The last five years have been a breathtaking time. Firstly I founded the UCC Coffee Switzerland Academy and became a SCA certified AST. Secondly I launched our own specialty coffee range. For the green buying, I started again to travel to origin, and in addition I became a Q-Grader and started to judge at COE competitions. After having won a local Cup Tasting competition and a barista jam in Munich, it was only a matter of time until I competed in the Swiss Barista Championships. In November 2017 I have finished on 10th place at the World Barista Championship in Seoul.