Today Anette and I drove across to Bristol for a barista jam happening there. Our original plans had us out of the country, so this was the silver lining to the cancellation of that trip. The event was hosed by Beyond the Bean and sanctioned by the SCAE UK.
We arrived a little late and the group of about 30 had already been split into three groups. One group were with Se Gorman and he was talking about cappuccinos (with reference to competition), another group with Ed Buston for his espresso workshop and then the final group were with WBC judge Jeremy Regan so they could ask questions about the rules and he could go through the scoresheets and make sure they understood how they were being judged. I kind of flitted about taking the occasional photo and trying not to get in the way.
A lot of people attending were competing and many were first time competitors so it was great for them to know a little bit more about what is expected and it can only have a positive effect on the level of competition in the UK.
After a spot of luncheon the group was split into two and one group went upstairs to cup with Peter James of James Gourmet. Eight coffees were put on the table, 4 commercial blends, a couple of specialty blends, a mill grade and a single estate. Cupping for the first time is quite intimidating and in a large group it is often difficult to encourage people to speak up and plant a flag of opinion but as people slowly did it was great to see their faces light up as they realised that they were very capable of picking out differences and that just about everyone agreed with them.
The other group were downstairs messing about with signature drink stuff. A number of my own (horrifically) failed experiments make me nervous about off the cuff sig drink creations but I tasted a couple of pretty good drinks today, excellent considering how quickly they had been put together. However I didn’t get much time to hang out in this session as I got stuck in to helping out with the grunt work of the cupping.
A big part of any jam is about baristas meeting and chatting to other baristas. There were people who had traveled a very long way to be there today which was very cool. It all ended around half five and we headed back to the smog of London. A big thank you to everyone involved in making today happen – it was a lot of fun and very much appreciated.
Would love the opinion of anyone who attended? What did you think? What did you like? What would you like to see improved?