Friday, February 25, 2011

Nicaragua Judges Training, Day Two

Scoring and a snack.

Day two of judges training continues with Ana at the helm and me guiding the till. Yes, odd metaphor considering we're in a landlocked city but we're off to the races and it's do or die time. Today is the day we have to select those trainees who will become certified national judges for the competition tomorrow.

As I wrote yesterday, it's difficult preparing people to judge a competition - especially when they have little to no experience. So much to learn, so much to teach and even with two days, it feels like so little time! What makes it a bit harder this time around is that it's just the two of us who have judging experience. Usually, there are national judges who have done this before and we can rely on their experience helping to guide the new judges.

Everyone gathers for lunch.

Unfortunately this time everyone is a first-time judge and we're going to have to really be on our toes during the competition to make sure everything is watched over carefully and consistently.

Where the first day was all about lecture, discussion and learning how to do what we do, the second day is about practical testing. It's crunch time and we need to see who's going to make it and who will need to try next year. The morning starts off with the written test on rules, regulations and general coffee knowledge. For some, it's easy. For others, not so much. And even though both of us hinted very strongly that they should "memorize the scoresheets by heart" we can tell who took our encouragement lightly.

My lunch - scared of the lettuce.

The written exam takes us to lunchtime and after lunch we're back with a discussion on understanding senses and the coffee sensory test. From there it's a practical discussion about evaluating both espresso and cappuccino drinks. Then, towards the end, it's mock competition presentations where we vet out those who we think will be able to handle the duties of a national judge.

One key to being a good sensory judge? Writing and lots of notes. We want to see copious amounts of notes supporting the scores given. Tell the barista why you assessed that score, be clear and be concise.

Post meal chatting.

Finally, at the end of the day, it's tears of joy and pain as some make it to the judging ranks and others are sent back to the minors. In reality, we want everyone to pass certification because it can only help develop the community, and what Nicaragua really needs is continuity in the judging ranks.

Guess we'll find out tomorrow just how sage our certifications turn out to be.

With the girls of Cafe Las Flores: Indira, Isaura and Carmen.

Ana and Isaura with the boys.

Ana reviews scoresheets with Isaura and Egda.

Sensory Time!

The classroom.

Tasting espresso.

Evaluating espresso.

Egda, Indira and Claudia discuss the finer points of Cappuccino.

Buenos Dias, Managua!

A round of breakfast from the Holiday Inn buffet.