ASCA goes digital

Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) President Kieran Westlake says 2020 was a year of challenges, but it provided an opportunity for growth and new ideas.

Kieran Westlake is the President of the Australian Specialty Coffee Association.

It was heartbreaking when we had to yet again postpone the 2020 Condesa Co Lab Australian Coffee Championships, but the decision left us with the time to plan a 2021 Nationals like never before.

With the next World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup scheduled for Greece in June 2021, we knew we had to leave our competitors with enough time to prepare, so we set ourselves a window of four days over the first two weeks of March. By the time you’re reading this, official dates may have been announced, so check the ASCA website, Facebook, and Instagram for more information.

We knew we wouldn’t be able to host the events with the kind of crowd and audience capacity they’d usually attract, so we decided the safest and most accessible way to hold the nationals would be to initiate a digital event. 

The first ASCA national competition of its kind will be livestreamed online, opening the competition to a wider audience. 

Inspired by the Olympics, the livestream will feature the competitor’s warm up, routine, and post-performance interview. We will package these presentations post-comp as showreels, providing the 2021 Nationals with a new longevity that showcases our competitors and sponsors to general and international audiences.

What I really like about this competition concept is that it will provide viewers with the best opportunity to actually hear and watch what the competitor is saying and doing.

Competitors in the Vitasoy Barista Championship and Brewers Cup put so much time and effort into developing their routines, but sometimes their words and actions can be missed over the noise and size of the crowd.

The livestream will provide viewers with a better than ever look at baristas from around the country and their routines, with a vantage point and audio quality that only the judges usually experience.

It will be great for the Barista Championship and Brewers Cup, but just imagine the difference it will make for Latte Art. 

Viewers will be able to watch the competitor’s hand movements and see the design in the same condition the judges do.

Or Cup Tasters, where not only coffee people but the general community can witness the speed, accuracy, and skill of our competitors, followed by an exciting unveiling ceremony.

This could build a connection to the competitions that ripples through the viewership of future regionals and nationals.

For the Australian Roasting Championship, we’ll do something similar with a few changes to suit the format. 

While it won’t be livestreamed, we’ll film and condense the competition in a way that explores the competitors’ green bean sorting, development of roast profiles, and sensory checking. It will be more educational than watching someone roast coffee, where unless you have a high level of insight, you’re not going to see the difference.

Beyond the streaming day, these videos will remain accessible post-event for anyone to watch and learn from online, with the hope that more people will build an appreciation for what our baristas, cuppers, and roasters do each day.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. 

We have a few contingencies in place should another outbreak occur and borders again lock up. 

Remember to routinely check the ASCA website, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on social media for updates as they happen. 

This article appears in the February 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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