First-ever Starbucks North America Barista Championship is a celebration of our partners

In celebration of our baristas who embody our commitment to community, connection and craft, Starbucks is kicking off its first-ever North America Barista Championship. One hourly partner from each participating store in the U.S. and Canada will be selected to compete – more than 15,000 participants – and a winner will be crowned in June 2024. 

“Whoever is standing on the stage at the end of this championship, we want every Starbucks barista to be able to feel a sense of connection to this person and to be proud that person is their partner,” said Ann-Marie Kurtz, learning and development manager on the global coffee education team.  

“There’s so much work our baristas put into serving coffee in today’s complex world – to follow quality standards, to craft beverages, to make those connections with our customers and our communities. Taking the time to really see them, celebrate them, honour them and share an appreciation for what they do is important. Incredibly important. This is a chance for us to celebrate baristas on a really big stage.”

Barista Championship competitions have taken place in markets globally over the last 10 years, starting in 2013 in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Most regions around the world host a championship annually. This will be the first time a winner will represent all of the U.S. and Canada.

The upcoming North America competition will be grounded in the foundational expectations of a Starbucks barista – what they do every day.  

Here’s how it will work.  

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    By Feb. 25, store managers will select one barista from their team who best embodies a commitment to delivering the highest quality beverages and genuine connection with peers and customers.  

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    That barista will take part in a district-wide competition in March, where they will lead judges through a coffee tasting, showcasing a core Starbucks coffee using an in-store brewing method. They will be scored on their knowledge of Starbucks coffee, culture and heritage, along with their ability to make personal connections and recommend food pairings.  

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    Winners will move on to an area competition in April, where they will craft classic Starbucks beverages like a Caffè Latte and a Caramel Macchiato. They will also present their own signature beverage – a new creation invented from existing in-store ingredients.  

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    The regional competition in May will be focused on combining craft and storytelling. And after that, 23 regional winners will meet in Seattle in June for the first-ever North American Barista Championship finals, where they will showcase their coffee craft skills, demonstrate their knowledge of Starbucks commitment to sustainability, and present their signature beverage to the Starbucks beverage innovation teams. 

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    During the week, they will also take part in professional development opportunities and tours of the Starbucks Support Center, the Heritage Market stores and the Tryer Lab, the Starbucks innovation center.  

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    The winner will be crowned the North America Barista Champion and will be awarded a trip to Hacienda Alsacia – Starbucks research and development farm in Costa Rica.

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    Competitors will be paid for time spent participating and traveling to the district, area, regional and finals competitions. Judging throughout will be done by Starbucks leaders, Starbucks Coffee Masters and coffee development and quality professionals.

“Off the heels of reintroducing Coffee Master and Origin Experience last year, we knew this was our next partner experience investment that couldn’t wait,” said Sara Trilling, executive vice president, president North America. “We’ve seen this time-honoured, global tradition for Starbucks partners in markets around the world and how meaningful it is to partners, their stores and their communities, and we’re thrilled to extend that experience to North America.

“Our charter is to celebrate baristas who embody our commitment to craft and infuse joy in all they do.”

As part of Starbucks promise to ensure the future of coffee for all, the company is committed to deepening our partners knowledge and passion for coffee. Learn more about our Coffee Master and Origin Experience programming.

The Company recognizes changes to wages, benefits, and/or terms and conditions may not be unilaterally implemented for partners in union represented stores subject to a statutory freeze period. In the case of stores covered by a collective agreement, the terms and conditions of the agreement will dictate which benefits partners receive.