There are many barista competitions that take place all over the world. However, a very special event was held recently in honour of World Down's Syndrome Day, which fell on March 21st.
Organised by Spanish coffee company Cafento, one of the largest coffee firms in the country, the Down Barista Championship aims to raise awareness of Down's Syndrome by proving that individuals with the condition are capable of carrying out the job of a barista in the same way as someone without it.
The event was born in Valencia back in 2011 as an informal occasion. However, it proved so popular that it is still going strong and looking forward to many more similar events in the future.
Following the contest on March 21st, which was the Down Barista Championship's third installation, the organisation will be setting up three further events throughout 2014. These will be taking place in Asturias, Galicia and Valencia, according to Barista Magazine, and will involve a total of 50 participants.
While the context may differ from more traditional contests, they are run in exactly the same way, save for one fundamental difference. Those taking part do so in teams of four to six individuals, so the competition is a collaborative effort, as opposed to a solo performance.
According to the marketing director of the firm Tiago Lemos: "We think Down Barista Championships have two main beneficial effects.
"They help to make Down's Syndrome people socially visible, showing them as guys perfectly able to make a good job. And we can train them as baristas, which is a promising profession in terms of job opportunities."
Victor Couto, one of the coaches from Cafento, explained how the participants had been taught skills and tricks that even some experienced coffee shop and restaurant workers would not know how to do.
For us, the competition highlights a crucial message that we at DR Wakefield believe to be fundamental to the coffee industry – it is a reminder of the importance of people.