We spoke to our resident Head of Gradings here at the World Flair Association, @thomasdyer-3, who recently travelled out to Nigeria in Africa to judge Barman TV and train some of the competitors in WFA Yellow Grading:
“I and the WFA were invited out to Nigeria for this reality TV show centred around bartenders and their skill set. The TV show was open to any bartender from West Africa and they were given various tasks to complete over the coming days, with the number of bartenders being whittled down to just 12. As the week progressed 12 became 6 and eventually 6 became 3. The final 3 were left to compete for the tile of winner of Barman TV and a grand EBS package that involves a mixology course in EBS London, an international bartender course in EBS Cape Town and a barista course in EBS Rome.
“All 6 of the bartenders that were left standing mid way through the competition were given the opportunity to take their WFA Yellow Grading, this involved me providing them with the full training and a test later on in the week. All 6 passed and were awarded their first step on the WFA Grading ladder, these gentlemen represent the first bartenders to achieve a WFA grading on the continent of Africa and pave the way for other bartenders to acquire their WFA Grading that will soon be available in Cape Town, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana in the coming months”.
What are WFA Gradings?
The WFA Grading system is the most widely adopted and recognised qualification for professional bartenders with over 100 schools around the world and more than 10,000 students passing through the system. The gradings represent a levelling system that looks at the whole bartending skill set including accuracy, speed, flair and more.
After a bartender achieves their WFA Yellow Grade they are free to start tackling the other grades, working their way up through Yellow Grade, Orange Grade, Green Grade and finishing at Blue Grade. In terms of tested levels these are the four that can be attempted and achieved through a number of bar schools around the world.
WFA Purple Grade, and Black Grade are also available to winners and placing highly in any WFA Grand Slam Competition; and the highly coveted WFA Bronze, Silver and Gold Grades are reserved for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the annual Grand Slam World Championship Tournament.
These are often seen as the hardest grades to achieve as the Grand Slam World Championship Tournament is decided by a year long leaderboard where the only way you can gain points is by placing in other Grand Slam Competitions throughout that year.
The updated WFA Gradings
“The use of the WFA Grading system in Africa also represented the first time the new system was put into practice. The current system has been in use for a number of years and we thought it was about time to provide an update. With the emergence of craft flair and the significant advances of flair bartending around the world, we believed the educational content of the WFA Gradings needed updating accordingly.
We want the different grades to be more relevant and representative of a typical bartenders job but also more accessible for bartenders around the world. For example we have looked at the flair moves that are a requirement of some of the grades and revised these to reflect more suitable flair bartending moves for use behind the bar.
We also looked at the way in which bartenders are tested throughout each grade ensuring the process was more simple to practice and understand but at the same time introducing more diversity into the routine of moves for each level. Around the world we will be rolling out the revised versions of the WFA grades through out the year with the revised Yellow grade already going live. We hope to have the whole grading system updated by 2018”.