What You Need To Know About The World's Worst Coffee Competition

Does your biggest kitchen fail involve a complete inability to brew a decent cup of coffee? If your brew is so gruesome that even instant coffee — no, even the instant coffee you buy from Dollar Tree — is a better bet, don't let it get you down. We are now living in an age when even failure is an art form, as witness, the success of shows like Nailed It! and Worst Cooks in America.

While there isn't (yet) a reality show dedicated to bad coffee, a few years back the LA coffee shop Dinosaur Coffee decided to host what was billed as the first annual World's Worst Coffee competition. The genesis for this contest, held in March of 2015 (via Sprudge), lay in the fact that the far more serious United States Barista competition had been held in Long Beach the week before. Dinosaur founder Michelle Hantoot told The Paper Mixtape that she wanted to host her own event, one that would be "whimsical and light-hearted...a fun place to alleviate pressure."

The contest turned into quite a spectacle

As Hantoot described the contest, it wasn't really intended to be anything too elaborate. As she told contestants (via The Paper Mixtape), "Bring your own beans, bring your own equipment, and I'll provide you with a water tower and two electric plugs." Hardly any of the participants decided to keep things that simple, however. California baristas, after all, are a highly competitive and, it would seem, rather theatrical breed. As Hantoot described it, "People went above and beyond...the presentations and time spent in preparation for it was amazing."

As to what these preparations included, many dressed in costumes. Among those representing the local coffee community were, according to Sprudge, a Prince look-alike, a steampunk villain, Batgirl, and a wizard wearing what appeared to be the Hogwarts Sorting Hat (we're guessing he was a Slytherin). While over-the-top accessorizing alone could not guarantee a contest win, the outfits added an entertaining touch of Comic-Con to the proceedings.

Some of the coffee recipes were stomach-churning

Not only was the costuming extra, so was the coffee. One contestant concocted their coffee with a heaping helping of lard, while another added catnip to their cup (via Sprudge). The judges' choice for coffee they were least likely to drink, went to the barista who created a hellbrew involving cheese made with the same bacteria that grows when you fail to wash where the sun don't shine.

The overall winner, however, judged on criteria of aroma, mouthfeel, flavor, aftertaste, performance, service vessel, and outfit, was Tayler Mehit, a barista who'd made the trip down from San Francisco. Her award-winningly horrible coffee blend was made from 18-month old, mud-dried Robusta green coffee with a secret ingredient she called "dove's tears" to match her outfit (she was the one dressed as the artist formerly known as something other than Prince). As her prize, she took home the championship spoon engraved with "I'm just the worst," as well as a dunce cap emblazoned "Bad." Second place went to the catnip coffee/steampunk guy who took home a $10 gift certificate to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. 

Although Hantoot told The Paper Mixtape that the term first annual competition implied there would be a second annual competition, we haven't been able to find any evidence that a followup subsequently took place. Dinosaur Coffee is still in business, however, so it's to be hoped that in safer days, makers of the world's worst coffee will once more come out to play.