There's actually nothing in writing that says it's limited to people who are actual Baristi, behind the counter day in, day out.
That's in there for a reason. If it weren't, Paul Bassett wouldn't have been eligible for last year's WBC. Many folks who were Baristi and went on to do other things in Coffee have competed.
In Jeanette's case, she did actually represent a cafe - Jolly's, down on 4th at McDonald (don't bother going though - she's not working there any longer :) :). But we looked into the rules, and she could have just as easily represented CoffeeGeek officially, or even her own Piano Studio... heck, she could have had "Joe's auto shop" emblazoned on the back of her shirt.
And she did finish 8th.... does it say anything? Probably not. Jeanette had the benefit (if you can call it that) of me training her. She also had the benefit of working on a La Marzocco anytime she wanted. She plowed through probably 75lbs of coffee and about 3 dozen jugs of milk in her training alone, and another couple' dozen at the shop.
Not many amateurs have those kinds of resources if they want to train for a competition.
If we have a situation where amateurs are entering and finishing WAY behind the pack, not completing the competition, etc etc, then I can see it being a problem. But if we have one finishing right in the middle of the pack, where's the worry, except maybe to get some folks thinking that the simple act of banging out a hundred shots a day in a cafe isn't enough to be a competitor - it takes passion for what you're doing as well, which Jeanette had in droves.
I know I'm the least biased person to discuss this, but here's a plain fact. If I knew Jeanette wouldn't be able to keep up and compete with the pros, I would have done everything possible to convince her not to enter. But I was confident she was top-10 calibre, so I saw no problems with it.
I know that no one is bashing on Jeanette. However, in the small sampling I have for comparison, she was an excellent barista. Like Mark said, she has passion and it really shows, even if she is a bit shy. ;)
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