Talking WFA Green Grade with Roman Zapata

When it comes to WFA Gradings, the difficulty and the skill level is really ramped up with Green and Blue but also the sense of achievement after you get that shaker in your hand and the badge on your profile. Whereas more and more bartenders are conquering the first two grades of Yellow and Orange, the list of Green and Blue achievers remains exclusive. After all it takes time, dedication and skill to achieve the best – as any successful flair bartender will tell you.

Available to be undertaken at Bar Schools around the world, the WFA Green Level aims to test not only everything you have learned across your Yellow and Orange grades but also your multiple object skills. Introducing multiple object moves into your competition routine on stage is a sure fire way to increase your difficulty score and take your level of flair bartending to the next stage. We sat down with one of our top Gradings Examiners and teacher, Roman Zapata (@romanzapata), to see how his students are progressing with the Green Grade:

How much of a step up are your students finding the WFA Green Level? Do you think all of them will be returning to take on the infamous WFA Blue?

“I think they are for sure seeing the step up, the Green level pushes them to improve their flair techniques and take them to a new level, much closer to a competition level. Many of my students are definitely interested in taking their first steps in competing in flair bartending and this advanced course is the key to develop a competitive routine and improve their skills. They start to use more than two objects regularly in the WFA Green Grade, which means of course new techniques and lots lots of hard training. I really hope to see them return for the highest level of the gradings, WFA Blue, which only a handful of people in the world have achieved. If they can tackle Green then with a little more time and effort, they can certainly achieve Blue”.

Have you found most of your students are returning to keep moving through the levels? Or are you seeing new faces at each level?

“I think you see a lot of people come to start with the Yellow Grade, this gives you a basic understanding of flair – teaches you a couple of cool moves to impress your friends but if you really want to impress other bartenders or people who have seen flair before then you start learning these sorts of things in the Orange level and higher. Therefore you see some of students don’t return after Yellow, but when it comes to the semi advanced level in Orange you start to see more or less all your students coming back to take it further with the Green level – I think proving to yourself you can do some of these amazing things with barware is a great feeling for people and they want to see what else they can do! For me as a teacher it is an amazing feeling to see the students start at Yellow and progress through the grades, watching their development. Every time I see them they are getting better and improving”.


Are you finding it more challenging teaching the WFA Green Level vs teaching the WFA Yellow and Orange?

“For sure I am finding it more challenging teaching the WFA Green level vs Orange or Yellow – but for me this is a big part of why I do it, I love challenges! I think the reward is more for me the harder the flair I teach, as watching one of my students conquer a really tricky or high skilled move is very satisfying and you only get this with the higher WFA levels like Green and Blue. Of course as I have been a flair bartender for many years as well although teaching it can be a challenge, demonstrating the moves to show the students isn’t too hard 😉 ”

How can WFA Gradings be useful?

“You learn all the basics of flair bartending and you will find as you progress through the grades you are building on these basic moves you have mastered with the Yellow grade. You use more or less every item behind the bar as part of the first grade, so it not only gives you a great basic understanding of how to flair but also of the tools you will most likely be flairing with. When you move on to Orange and Green you really start to put together an impressive skill set.

Being able to flair as a bartender is definitely an advantage. As many bartenders will know being able to flair is not necessary to be a bartender, however it certainly gives you a big edge. You are not only able to provide the service of a bartender, but also entertain the guests and grab their attention. Flair bartending has been proven to be a great way of upselling in a bar, so bars will always be on the lookout for a decent flair bartender when recruiting a new bartender. The majority of my students have gone on to get jobs in bars very soon after completing their WFA Grading, others are even doing show and performances in private events. We have had over 200 bartenders who have passed Yellow level at Flair Academy.”

Roman Zapata on Instagram