We often write about barista competitions, championships and barista champions, but it should never go without noting that a barista competition cannot happen without the tireless work of many volunteers. Among those volunteers are of course the judges. So it was pretty cool to see this story from the Carrboro (N.C.) Citizen about super-judge Scott Conary. Scott is someone who has given his time and energy to judging barista competitions for years. He’s traveled across the country and around the world to support barista competitions, most recently serving as a head judge at the WBC in London. He’s also passionate about coffee.
From the story:
“Barista should be a profession,” said Conary. “It is in other countries, and there’s no reason it can’t be here, as long as we raise the level of awareness with consumers. We take it very seriously.”
So do his customers. The local customer base is well-educated about their coffee and is in part responsible for rising standards. It’s a promising sign. Still, Conary feels that the overall perception of the drink itself needs to change in America.
“There’s still this disconnect on what coffee really is,” he said. “And unfortunately in the U.S., it’s always been considered a staple. It’s not a staple; you can’t always count on it being there. It’s an agrarian product.”
Conary hopes that through a heightened awareness of coffee’s true nature—a luxury—consumers will be quicker to advocate for better and more responsible cultivation.
So he persists, a man on a mission. Conary believes that what he does has important implications.
Scott is a great guy, and his, and his fellow judges’, work with competitions helps make them possible. It’s terrific to see his local paper recognize his efforts.