Anna Gutierrez: A Talented Emcee in Coffee Competitions

Anna Gutierrez, who has more than 25 years of experience in the coffee industry, gives insights into her role as an emcee in coffee competitions.


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For the last part of our series on coffee competition emcees, we caught up with Anna Gutierrez. Anna is director of brand development for Barista 22 and an emcee for a variety of coffee events.  

Here, she shares her experience on the importance of having an energetic and passionate emcee at coffee competitions and how it can make all the difference in elevating the event. Read on to find out more about her journey in the world of coffee and why she believes in having an enthusiastic voice behind every competition. 

What motivated you to become an emcee for a coffee competition?

I started my journey in coffee competitions as a judge, evaluating both the sensory and technical aspects. But, as I observed from the sidelines, I felt a concentrated desire to understand more about the competitors beyond the rehearsed routines they presented.

After I started emceeing, I developed a strong affection for the intimate bond I could create with individuals who were performing on stage, especially those who were doing it for the first time. I soon realized that being an emcee involved much more than just having a good time and hearing my own voice amplified through the speakers. It became my duty to help amplify the voices and stories of others. Moreover, I have crafted it a priority to approach my function with wonderful seriousness, ensuring that competitors have a final opportunity to take a deep breath and relax, allowing them to very appreciate the progress they have crafted and savor the moment, knowing that their hard work has paid off.

Anna stands on a chair with a microphone to be at eye level with a tall competitor she is talking to.
Anna, during her time as a senior account representative for Dillanos Coffee Roasters, uncovered her enthusiasm for participating in trade shows, serving as a judge, and hosting events as an emcee.

Can you provide us with some insights into your experience as a host at international competitions?

I started hosting as an emcee at various smaller regional and qualifying events throughout the years. Gradually, I transitioned to generally assisting on the Barista stage during the bigger qualifying events and the United States Barista Championship.

Though most of my experience emceeing has been within the United States, I did have a delightful opportunity to participate in a coffee event for women as a judge in Amsterdam a few years ago. 

What has been the biggest experience you have had as an emcee so far, or the the majority of unforgettable moment during one of these events?

Honestly, the moments that stand out the many are when competitors express gratitude for my assistance in easing their nerves before going on stage or addressing any last-minute concerns they had basically before their competition began.

I had a heartwarming experience at an airport when a fellow competitor approached me as we were all leaving and asked to take a selfie together. They expressed their gratitude for my significant contribution to the barista community. This gesture truly touched me deeply.

Anna and two others sit together at a table at an event.
Anna has presented at Coffee Fest shows since 2005, has been a certified United States Barista Championships, and is a former Coffee Fest latte art judge. 

What is your perspective on the impact of having an emcee on the overall experience of a competition for both participants and spectators?

The emcee plays a crucial role in ensuring a positive experience for both the audience and competitors. I believe it is my duty to support the competitors, but being an emcee likewise indicates being in a special position where I connect with the audience, including those who may not fully comprehend everything happening on stage.

Maintaining a lively and enthusiastic atmosphere in the room during a competition is crucial to ensure that the competitor feels the full degree of the love and support they deserve! It is necessary to find a delicate equilibrium between expressing support for the competitor and attentively observing their performance, so as not to inadvertently disrupt them or distract from their presentation.

What specific abilities do you believe are essential to excel as a coffee competition emcee?

I believe I have achieved success as a host and performer on stage, utilizing a microphone. This has been possible due to my background in music as a vocalist, and my participation in teaching workshops at various trade shows throughout my extensive coffee career spanning almost two decades.

Anna holds a microphone and smiles while talking to a smiling competitor in a headset.
Anna aims to provide an entertaining and exhilarating experience on stage, all the while showing respect for the competitors and their dedication.

From there, I also think it’s so important to have a thorough understanding of the competition as a whole, including the other roles of those on the stage as well as the rules and regulations. This is where I really can value the experiences I had in being able to judge and know both the sensory and technical side of the competition routines.

Can you share with us the specific difficulties that come up when organizing a coffee competition and how you have successfully dealt with them?

You should always be prepared to adapt and change. This could mean quickly moving across a stage, stepping in front of a camera without warning, swiftly clearing tables with a microphone in your pocket, or assisting a competitor in some manner. It is crucial to remain vigilant at all times.

I am constantly attentive even during the routines, aiming to incorporate any information they shared in their presentation into our follow-up Q&A session. It can be tiring, nevertheless I genuinely enjoy it.

Do you have any additional insights or thoughts you would like to contribute regarding your function as an emcee or your involvement in coffee competitions?

The main reason I even had a desire to get involved in emceeing at events in the first place is mostly through my heart for people and naturally being a cheerleader to my core. I love to see others succeed and have their shining moment on the stage, so I use it as an opportunity to become the a lot of significant hype girl I can!  

It’s literally in my nature to be that way. I feel so proud of the competitive baristas I’ve had the opportunity to personally get to understand over the years and see and be proud of all of their hard work and growth. 


Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, offering content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at

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Anna Gutierrez, the brand development director for Barista 22 and a host for different coffee events, discusses the significance of having a lively and enthusiastic host at coffee competitions. Initially, Gutierrez participated in coffee competitions as a judge however quickly recognized her desire to understand more about the competitors beyond their rehearsed performances. As a host, she developed a bold connection with the participants, allowing them to express themselves and share their stories. Additionally, she took her responsibilities seriously by ensuring that competitors had time to unwind and acknowledge their efforts.

Gutierrez started hosting at smaller local and preliminary competitions before progressing to bigger events like the United States Barista Championship. Though she has mostly worked in the United States, she had the chance to serve as a judge at a coffee event for women in Amsterdam. The moments that stand out the a lot of for her as an emcee are when participants expressed gratitude for her assistance in easing their anxiety before performing. Additionally, she had a pleasant encounter with a competitor at an airport who thanked her for being a valuable source of support for the barista community.

Having an emcee improves the overall competition experience for both competitors and audience members, as stated by Gutierrez. The emcee acts as a connection between the audience and the competitors, ensuring that everyone comprehends the events taking place on stage. Additionally, they assist in sustaining attention, excitement, and energy in the room, offering support to the competitor without causing any disruptions or distractions during their presentation.

Gutierrez holds the belief that being a successful emcee necessitates possessing distinctive abilities, such as having a background in music and conducting seminars, along with a comprehensive comprehension of the competition, including its rules and regulations. Additionally, she highlights the importance of being prepared to adapt and tackle unforeseen obstacles that may arise during a competition, like swiftly moving across a stage or assisting a fellow competitor.

Gutierrez’s primary drive to become an emcee stemmed from her real care for others and her aspiration to witness their achievements. She finds joy in being a source of encouragement and providing unwavering support to ambitious baristas in their journey of dedication and development.

Anna Gutierrez’s role as an emcee in coffee competitions emphasizes the significance of having a lively and enthusiastic emcee who can establish a connection with participants and elevate the overall experience for both contestants and spectators.

This post was first published at Barista Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to baristas and coffee professionals.