2. Challenging and improving yourself
You will become a better barista after entering a competition. That is a fact.
By allowing yourself to publicly display your skills and be judged by some of the best in the industry you’ll be pushed to learn and improve at an accelerated rate.
One of the first things you’ll see an improvement on is your efficiency, both by learning to organise better and keep clean.
In any barista competition you have a relatively short time to perform the given task. So planning your movements and organizing the bar efficiently is key. This carries back over to in the shop when you realise all the little things you can tweak to brew and serve each drink that little bit faster.
In competition you also have to focus on minimising variability as you rarely have time to remake drinks if they’re not perfect. This will lead to experimenting with new techniques and equipment you might not have otherwise used. You’ll also have to cut down waste, notably milk. Using just the right amount means you can both make drinks faster and also save your shop money
The biggest and most noticeable difference though is cleanliness. Its usually obvious to tell when you go into a coffee bar whether anyone working there has competed before. If they have, the place will be immaculate, since every drop of coffee and grounds wasted is a possible lost point. I’m always a little horrified seeing a grinder covered in grind when the shop isn’t busy, my natural inclination is to grab a brush and tidy it up. Even when people ask me to help with something on bar, or I’m using someone else’s equipment, I immediately start to clean it all before brewing. Possibly it’s some anal clean-freak tendency I already had but I feel it has been exacerbated by competition, I’ve seen it in other people too. Applied to working on bar though I find it a positive trait that will benefit you in the rest of your career.
If you always brew coffee as if two technical judge are watching you’ll definitely see an improvement in your work.