Now is the time for the entire British beverage trade to think about how it is going to benefit from the 2010 World Barista Championship, the big contest in speciality coffee-making.
It is, says competition chairman Steve Penk of La Spaziale, the biggest promotional opportunity for beverages ever offered in the UK, with chances for caterers of all sizes - even the smallest cafés - to benefit by promoting the event and thus drawing attention to the standard of their own coffee.
The barista championships will be held at the Caffè Culture show and will also coincide with both the early stages of the football world cup and Wimbledon, so the trade might benefit from a general national feelgood-factor. Caffè Culture has already seen a level of bookings which has surprised the organisers.
"This will be massive – for the trade, the biggest promotional coffee programme ever presented in Europe,” said Steve Penk. “I don’t think it unreasonable to hope for 12,000 people through Olympia for the show, so I endorse the idea that everyone in the beverage trade should work out how they can make then most of this… and start thinking now!”
The trade is keen to encourage early activity because recent opportunities to promote the coffee trade beside national and world barista championships have certainly been under-promoted. Even some of the sponsor companies have appeared surprisingly reluctant to shout about their involvement as much as they might have done.
Next year, of course, the opportunity is so much bigger. Coffee House magazine has asked a few people in the trade what they thought of the promotional prospects, and has already received some answers which gave cause for concern.
One senior manager said: “Our big job is to get people thinking about it before next May, when it's too late”, and another senior manager confessed: “To be honest, the penny has only just dropped...”
Everyone from suppliers to café operators around the UK really could benefit, says Steve Penk. There has been early talk of a 'WBC pack' of material suggesting how any caterer in the country can use the event for publicity purposes.
There is word of live video feeds of barista championships into cafes. This may not sound exciting on its own for the general public but, with the World Cup football and Wimbledon on at the same time, a large screen would be a doubly useful tool for café, restaurant and bar owners.
Steve Penk has pointed out that tea-rooms and even chocolate specialists can ally themselves with the event.
The UK is currently riding on a high with regard to speciality coffee. The current world champion is British and the UK has now been named as ‘top coffee nation’, a rating reached by totting up all the scores in every world coffee championship.
A new logo has been devised for the 2010 event combining, we are told, images of barista work with iconic images of London.
By Ian Boughton