Looking for a new challenge

November 18th, 2009
Limited edition tampers

I have a rather embarrassing confession.  Despite being the fact that I am never going to compete in barista competitions again I still have most of a new routine written in my head.  The soundtrack, the intro, most of what I would say and talk about, even down to tiny details about milk – decided, mentally rehearsed. 1  I’m quite proud of some of it but it is, of course, completely useless to me.

When you win the WBC there is no doubt that there is a pleasure in never having to, or being able to, compete again.  Training for competition is a long, laborious, draining and brutal time.  Having been involved in competition for the last 5 years running, all the way to WBC level, I am very glad to have a year off this year.  We made the decision not to get involved with training anyone, or roasting coffee for anyone because with the WBC in London we’ll have enough on our plates and we really just want to be able to go to the competition and just enjoy it.

This doesn’t stop my brain though.  I am sure most winners of the WBC have thought about what they do if they had to compete again.  I have no doubt they’ve all thought about what they would have done better in their original routines.  So I figure that if my brain still wants to compete on some level then there was something about competition that was incredibly rewarding that I still want.  Perhaps then I should look for a different competition to enter.  Should I take up competitive barbeque?  Should I join some sort of debating society?  I am extremely jealous of Bob Blumer, as just about all of the things he competed in sound interesting.  Except the chili eating, not so interested in that to be honest.

I am sure I’ve spoken before about one of the main frustrations of barista competitions being how rarely you get to compete.  There is so little you can do to prepare for the experience of being on stage, without actually going ahead and just competing.  I’ve performed in barista competitions maybe 10 times. 10 performances.  I only just began to feel comfortable with the experience by the time I finished by final performance in Tokyo. 2

I am sure there are people out there thinking that I should probably focus on the business, devote my energies to that, and I agree to a point.  However, it is extremely easy to lose ones life to a startup and I think I am about ready to hunt out a new challenge.  I’ve enjoyed coffee competitions (I will probably have another go at the cupping comp this year – though I am very satisfied with my 5th place from Copenhagen, never again on the latte art one though! 3) but it is time for something new.  No idea what though, be curious as to people’s thoughts – a little inspiration to get me started.

Don’t worry – this will always be a coffee blog, it won’t suddenly be filled with posts about the philosophy of oyster shucking tool selections.  Or obsessing about eggs.

  1. I should add that I am not advertising or trying to sell it or anything weird!  ↩︎
  2. One of my hopes for the UBF is that it goes some way towards getting people used to performing and competing so that when it comes to official competition they can focus more on the coffee and less on the weird feeling of being on stage  ↩︎
  3. David Makin’s heckling still keeps me up at night…  ↩︎

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