The Cappuccino

If we were to say that brewed coffee is to be like wine, and espresso perhaps akin to creating an intense, complex spirit (like whisky), then I would say that the cappuccino is my favourite coffee cocktail. The combination of espresso and milk might seem a little simple, but calling a martini simple because it contains only gin and vermouth would be rather missing the point.

I’ve wanted to write about the cappuccino on here for a long time, for a lot of different reasons. The way I’ve thought about the cappuccino has changed a great deal over the years, but what has really prompted this post is pure selfishness. It is much easier now, in London certainly, to get a great espresso. If you enjoy milk in your drink then likely the best thing you’ll find is a flat white. A good cappuccino still remains pretty hard to find, and as I discovered when I logged my coffee consumption, I drink quite a lot of them!

Cappuccinos have never really been cool. It’ll be a long time yet before the word stops conjuring everything we hate about espresso based drinks gone wrong: badly brewed espresso, scalding hot milk, a looming, wobbly peak of milk froth all lovingly smothered in cheap cocoa. Delicious, no?

Around the cappuccino there remains a great deal of myth. One to get out of the way quickly: the name for the drink has nothing to do with the hoods of monk’s robes, nor the bald spot on their head. The original name for the drink was a kapuziner, and it was a Viennese drink was the 19th Century. It was small brewed coffee mixed with milk or cream until it attained the particular shade of brown that matched the colour of the Capuchin monks’ robes. Essentially the name implies the strength of the drink. If you want a genuinely traditional cappuccino then don’t even bother firing up the espresso machine. 1

This moves me onto the next frustration I have with myths of the modern cappuccino. The strange mystery of the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is passed around to this day, and describes a traditional cappuccino as being a third espresso, a third milk and a third foam. I was taught this very early on, as were a good number of people reading this. It didn’t take long for the oddity of it to dawn on me. Are we saying then, that if a single espresso is 25ml then a single shot cappuccino ought to be 75ml total? Nonetheless I still see cappuccinos that are labelled as being traditional with a recipe of being a double shot in a six ounce cup. This certainly fulfils the rule of thirds, but outside of the last 5 years I’ve yet to find any evidence or history of a double shot six ounce cappuccino existing to give it any form of tradition. This doesn’t make this drink any less tasty – it is a very tasty drink done well – I am just saying that traditional isn’t really a word that is accurate in its description. Would one describe a 12oz cappuccino, with a double shot at the bottom pulled long to 4oz, as traditional? I’m not slavishly devoted to, nor infatuated with, tradition. I just think we ought to use the term appropriately.

I own a good number of coffee books, and I’ve gone through a lot of them. The first reference to the cappuccino recipe of thirds I’ve found was in the 50s and it was described as being “an espresso mixed with equal amounts of milk and foam.” This sentence appears, pretty much verbatim, a number of times. It is a little ambiguous as it could be saying that only the milk and foam are in equal quantities, or that all three are. So the recipe of 1:1:1 could easily be meant to be 1:2:2. The single shot, 5-6oz cappuccino does have a long tradition, and is incredibly easy to find through much of Italy and the parts of Europe that haven’t succumbed to more generous portions of coffee as retail. It is also, when done well, absolutely delicious.

I used to be a little resentful of cappuccinos, to tell the embarrassing truth, because they were really hard to pour nice latte art into. (Bearing in mind that for almost all of my coffee career I’ve worked for companies that didn’t have cups bigger than 6oz). Barista competition didn’t help. I was guilty, as most competitors are, of prioritising the six point box for appearance (latte art or traditional) over the 24 point box for taste. I’d keep the foam as close the 1cm line (that was then the minimum) as possible – despite this meaning I was adding more milk than necessary and diluting the espresso further. This spread into my coffee making outside of competition. I began to resent foam (for want of a better phrase) and the cappuccino as a result. When people would complain about the lack of foam I wouldn’t be receptive – I thought this implied being out of touch, old fashioned. The arrogance of youth….

This is not all coming to a conclusion where I detail out the perfect cappuccino (though I will share what I currently really enjoy) I’m all for interpretation and individual presentation. I’m also for differentiation and definition and all too often I see cappuccinos that are nearly identical in recipe to other drinks on the menu, and that in the hands of different staff the drinks become completely interchangeable. This is true across the entire coffee industry, regardless of city or nation, of independent or chain.

In an odd way this is a plea for foam. I love really well textured milk foam. I like a decent amount of it in my cappuccinos too. I am not ashamed of this, though a more youthful me might have been. I really don’t mind if all that can be poured in the top is a heart of maybe a tulip. I love Intelligentsia’s policy of no rosettas in cappuccinos. Latte art is a good thing, but it still carries more weight than it is worth.

Our aversion to foam has created our own worst customers. Every barista I know hates making “dry” cappuccinos. 9 out of 10 people who order one, when asked why they want a dry cappuccino, explain that they are sick of getting drinks that are basically caffe lattes with a little chocolate on top. The only way to get the amount of foam that they want (that they have found) is to order the cappuccino dry. If you don’t believe me then ask them yourself. (Not in an accusatory way, but be genuinely interested and they’ll be happy to tell you.)

So – my current cappuccino recipe. Be warned, it is detailed (though with tolerances).

– Brewed into and served in a 5oz (150-160ml) bowl shaped porcelain cup. 2
– 15 to 17g of espresso 3
– 80-90g of milk, steamed to around 50-55C. 4
– The rest should be creamy, marshmallowy foam with bubbles so small they’re pretty much invisible. 5

I’m not going to label this “the perfect cappuccino” because that sort of thing makes me angry. It is just what I am really enjoying and I’d be interested to know what people think and what they are enjoying too. I suspect some people might take my thoughts about “traditional” cappuccinos above as an attack on their menu/store/brand/business. They are not. Hopefully it will generate a little discussion instead. Now don’t even get me started on flat whites….

  1. If you don’t believe me, that’s ok – I haven’t linked to any information here to back up my claims. There is plenty of information but if you are genuinely interested in this then the person to speak to is Professor Jonathan Morris, who wrote The Cappuccino Conquests. More information is pretty easy to find with a minimum of google-fu.  ↩︎
  2. No tulip cups, though they are easier to find in the smaller size.  ↩︎
  3. One spout of a double basket, I am going to presume you’re making too because they ought to be shared, or the other espresso should be consumed to alleviate a lack of caffeination. This liquid dose is dependent on the amount of coffee brewed, so we’re going to say 20g of coffee, brewing time of approx 28s and an extraction of 19-20%  ↩︎
  4. The cooler the better really. UPDATE – original post suggested 45C, which might be too cool for general enjoyment  ↩︎
  5. This will give you a coffee strength of around 1.8-2.0% which means there is plenty of strength in your single shot coffee drink. Ironically an underextracted short double, in a 6oz cup without much foam isn’t much stronger than this – 2.0-2.4%  ↩︎

WBC Blogging

Despite the backlog of other posts I can never find the time to visit, I suspect blogging for the next week will probably be devoted to the WBC.

Having said that I don’t know that I will have time to create the kind of coverage you will see on the unofficial WBC blog over here, which is already chock full o’content.

People are arriving into town, as I type this team Japan are at the roastery plying us with delicious things.  Other barista champions are visiting or arriving later today and I hope people get a chance to enjoy both London’s coffee scene – as well as the city itself.

Having done these before I’m coming to terms with the frustrating idea that I just won’t have time to properly chat to everyone I want, that there will be a lot of half finished conversations but I am excited to see lots of people again who I haven’t seen for a while.

I’ll try and update flickr, twitter and here too!

UPDATE:  Another WBC Blog.

WBC Scoresheets – a few thoughts

I am aware there is some potential for me seeming like an arrogant so and so in this post, but it really is just about having a bit of a discussion.

It is no surprise that I am a big fan of barista competitions, but having recently gone through the UK judges workshop there are a couple of things I would like to post about and get some discussion going on.  First off an issue that both Anette and I find very frustrating: Continue reading “WBC Scoresheets – a few thoughts”

WBC Thoughts

I should probably try and post some vague approximations of all the craziness, stress, surprise and good times that was the WBC this year.

So – Gwilym’s performance:  I am sure pretty much everyone has worked out that we didn’t go to this competition with the main goal of winning. The idea this year was the same as the idea last year, and the year before that: give an interesting performance that one could are proud of.

Continue reading “WBC Thoughts”

FB80 and GB5 bug

IMPORTANT: We don’t yet know if this is a one off glitch or common to all machines.

This is probably of interest to anyone who has competed or watched competitions since 2005.

In some competitions the La Marzoccos used were GB5 and FB80 AV machines – meaning they have a line of buttons linked to volumetric controls.  More recently a lot of machines just had one big on/off button.

Anyway – I remember back in 2005 in Seattle and in other barista competitions that during a competitors set the machines just seemed to switch off.  Everyone was very confused how a barista could have done this as you have to push and hold an on/off button for at least 3 (or maybe 5) seconds.

Continue reading “FB80 and GB5 bug”

5 more tips for barista competition

Last year I wrote a post with 6 tips for barista competition.  This year, with the rule changes and all, I wanted to write another little post (though still give the first a quick re-read…).

I really want to  encourage people to enter, it isn’t as difficult or scary as it seems.  Everyone who competes, as long as they do it for the right reasons, gets a lot out of it and doesn’t regret a minute of it.  What’s more – I guarantee it will make you a better barista.

1).    Make sure you put an espresso into every sig drink.

Now to begin with this might sound painfully obvious, but every year people make this mistake and up until now the rules haven’t been very clear.  Just brewing those 4 espressos isn’t enough.  If you blend them into something and don’t pour it all out then it doesn’t count as an espresso per drink.  Under the new rules you would get 0 from all sensory judges for this category so DO NOT make that mistake.

Continue reading “5 more tips for barista competition”

WBC 2008

Well, where to begin?

Copenhagen was not what I expected, in just about every way. I thought I’d get more time to roam the streets, visit cafes and hang out. Somehow it ended up being very busy indeed. That didn’t mean, however, that I missed out on my favourite part of these events – seeing lots of great people. Too many to list, and all of whom I wish I could have hung out with longer and in more relaxed circumstances.

Did I mention Anette and I drove to Copenhagen? No? Well when we got there it didn’t seem like the smartest thing to do. Six countries in a day, 14 hours on the road, and the autobahn actually gets pretty boring pretty quickly (unless, I guess, your car can do 150mph – which our rental could not). It was nice to be able to bring all the competition stuff, spare stuff and lots and lots of our coffee. Seeing as the roastery had only just gone live I have to admit that this being our first real public showing for our espresso was quite terrifying. We had a quick chance to taste it with a few of the Intelli folks at the LM Denmark distributors place. It didn’t taste how we wanted it to and that was a bit stressful, but then it came back to life at the event during Stephen’s first practice time. Then we got quite excited. We got to share a couple of shots with people and the reaction was great – especially what the lovely Barista Magazine folks wrote on their blog about Stephen’s performance.

MCing was interesting. I have to be honest and say I didn’t love MCing on my own, but it was an honour to be on stage with those baristas – even if some of them put me through the emotional ringer whilst I was up there with them. MCing the finals was a great pleasure though. It felt like Carl and I made a good team on stage, and the differences in our styles seemed to compliment each other well. I was pretty relieved to have something to do instead of worrying about Stephen’s set up and water glasses etc. I think Stephen and I were very pleased to have Jenny there to help keep things on track as she did before in Tokyo – so much thanks due to her. On the one day I wasn’t MCing the cupping competition provided the distractions – I was very pleased to get 5th. I don’t think I could have expected more, and Casper was an inspiring winner and it was just a lot of fun to be up there with some great people like Jorge and Edwin. The afternoon of lecturing also helped distract me – I suppose it is quite funny my lecture was titled (not by me) “Breaking the WBC code”. Didn’t appreciate getting locked out of the complex by the staff.

So – the result. Calling out those names was always going to be intense. Each card hoping it wouldn’t be Stephen and then having the excitement tempered by feeling bad for each of the amazing finalists who had come so close. I had some really great drinks up on that stage – Dave’s sig drink was a lesson in working with fruit and using its natural acidity to very cleverly and simply compliment a coffee. A simple idea that is incredibly difficult to execute. I had snuck a shot of his espresso that morning and it was tasting great too. I also have to say that Daniel’s coffee was a lot of fun to drink – and passing them out to the audience always makes me think that the baristas on stage should be sharing more of the coffee with the people watching.

Stephen entered both the competition and the finals in a great psychological position – what I would consider the ideal position: excited, nervous and aiming only to give the best presentation he could and not worry about his final result. The mistakes in the first round gave us focus for the finals and he gave a great performance. I’d seen it many times before but never enjoyed it that much. Seeing the scores his drinks got afterwards was wonderful – he did a great job preserving and delivering what we love about those coffees to the judges. I hope that Stephen’s win will be a signpost to future competitors, and I think the judges are sending a clear message that I hope the community will hear and understand. Already I am curious about next year’s competition.

Stephen is going to have a great year, and I hope I can help him in any way and pass on my experiences (both good and bad) to help him get the most out of it. It is an amazing year of learning and a great privilege coupled with a great responsibility. We are all excited about what the year will bring.

Now it is back to relative normality. Anette is back doing incredible things at the roaster and we are all excited about the potential we have to improve and explore what we are doing. Talking to Andrew Barnett (something I could do for hours) we were talking through the geeky facts of competition and I think we have two firsts – Anette is the first person to roast WBC winning coffee twice, and this is the first winning coffee to be all washed coffees. (Do correct me if I am wrong on these).

Usually these long posts are peppered with photos, but my camera is almost as broken as my mac (let’s not even start on how borked the macbook is – sorry to those suffering email issues with me) so no photos were taken. Anette took a few I think, and they should end up online soon I hope.

I didn’t bring home as much coffee as I initially wanted to, but then winning kind of changed my plans. We are planning to run open evenings of espresso tastings for other baristas around London and surrounding area and the first one was going to be the top 6 WBC blends, but now it seems a bit commercial. Instead we will be doing one country at a time, getting coffee from 5 or 6 of our favourite roasteries and sharing them over the course of an evening once a month or so. Instead the first one will probably be Norway but more on that another time – I am way off topic here!

Thanks to everyone who helped us, who helped Stephen and massive thanks to Anette for not only being awesome but for doing great things with coffee in a very quiet way. I hope to see lots of you soon, either in London or if I end up travelling more again. And once more:

Congratulations Stephen!

Thoughts from the last week

As hectic as everything is here, it hasn’t stopped by brain going off on one during spare moments (a couple of hours commuting is plenty of time to think about stuff.)

So here are a few of the things I have been thinking:

  • Tasting every roast of every component is slowly but surely breaking my head and teaching me a huge amount.
  • This could probably do with a post of its own, but we have a fairly consistent set up here around the grinder yet it is staggering to see how far apart grind settings can be for two different coffees. Thus when you blend these two coffees is this a compromise too far? Roasting coffees so they all perform very well at a certain brew temp (or small range of temps) makes some sense to me (though of course is not the only way to do things) but surely it must also make sense that combining coffees that shine at similar doses and grinds makes good sense? Am I just over-caffeinated? Either way the odd one out coffee isn’t in our espresso right now.

  • Sample roasting continues to terrify me
  • Like a giddy child I muscled in at the Gothot for a quick play, and very quickly discovered I wanted out. I am not a roaster and the speed and precision of sample roasting makes me a bit edgy. I am happy to be the one who just gets rid of the chaff after roasting. However I am loving cupping so much, and I am very excited about coffee right now. (that said I really should be practicing cupping a bit more for the competition!)

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    Before chaff removal

  • Blending coffees in the cooling tray is substantially more fun than it has any right to be.
  • It is also a nice moment to give the coffee just one more hand screening, and it is so hypnotic….

  • I want to be better at more brewing methods
  • My cloth brewing failures have been a little frustrating but I am determined to improve. Mark Prince has long been a big fan and I admit to just being a bit too scared of it. That said I did have a lovely cup (for many, many reasons) at Herbazu last December, brewed in a kitchen overlooking the coffee trees. Thanks to Ben for some recipe assistance – I know the brewer I have has a very, very long sock. So to speak. Anyone’s input welcomed? And if anyone can point me somewhere I can buy a nice hand pour kettle I will be eternally in their debt!

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    Cloth brewer

  • Really enjoying Roast magazine
  • This isn’t to disrespect any other coffee magazines – just been enjoying some very interesting and educational articles there recently. I don’t mind admitting that I have contributed articles to the last couple of issues, but then I don’t mind admitting that I have a very different point of view to the author of those articles on espresso and blending for espresso, and don’t agree with a lot of what he said. That is hardly a bad thing though. Still – I find myself interested in stuff I didn’t think I was interested in. I don’t want to drink aged Sumatras (I really don’t) but I do want to read about them. There is no hope for me.

  • I miss competition and I don’t
  • Copenhagen and the WBC is looming, Stephen is practicing and worrying about all the right things – though that doesn’t make the process of worrying any easier. Competition this year is going to be insane. Looking at some of the champions through to CPH makes me very glad I got out whilst the going was good! David Makin’s massive score, and Kyle Glanville’s high profile victory make them both ones to watch for sure but there are one or two champions returning (I am not going to list them all because I will forget somebody and they will be rightly upset with me!) who are going to be very exciting to watch. Can’t wait to catch up with everyone, and it is fun reading the blogs from competitors or the people assisting them. Plus Stephen’s soundtrack will pwn all you barista n00bs.

    What are you all thinking this week?

    Square Mile Coffee Roasters and this blog

    So the time has come to clarify where this blog is going to go. Many businesses – cafes, roasteries and the like have blogs and I read most of them and enjoy them too. However this is not what jimseven is going to become. At some point in the future there may well be a Square Mile Coffee blog – used as a forum for all the company as a forum for learning.

    As for jimseven – our latest offerings, pricings, business stuff in general – this will not appear on here. As you’ve probably noticed we decided not to chart our progress online but to quietly work away until we had something so exciting we wanted to share. We do have a few fun events planned that I will probably post about on here but only because it is a nice way to spread the word and it is pretty non-commercial stuff.

    I will still continue to post, though if the last few months are anything to go by, at a much reduced rate. This blog has been very good to me, and I enjoy the community and communication it brings as well as an excuse to bury my head in the books for an evening and write something cohesive.

    However it would be rude of me not to give a little update on where we are. The first time we roasted coffee together was my coffee for the WBC in Tokyo. A lot has happened in the year since but it is a lot of fun to be roasting for the WBC again. Stephen will probably post more about his preparations on his blog in the future so I will leave that for now. We are also now roasting for our first few wholesale accounts and are enjoying the coffee we are roasting a lot, and looking forward to new crops arriving and becoming part of our espresso offering. Both Stephen and I are getting stuck into our customer training and support program, and a lot of credit for it should go to all the people and companies that have inspired us the last few years by setting that bar so high.

    More and more people are coming by to hang out, have an espresso and just talk all things coffee and not coffee. It feels like London could have a real sense of community and we all hope that continues to develop. (If you are reading and do want to come by then shoot us an e-mail)

    We are working on the website and once that is done there will probably be some sort of launch. As you can tell from the link we are pretty much done on the branding and that will be more fully revealed in time. Creating a brand has been less of a corporate exercise for us and more a development of an identity for the company that we will want to carry forward in the coming years.

    I have also become a recent convert to the Jepy style Anfim mods – as seen on Baca and Drew’s grinders at the USBC. I’d like to thank John publicly for all the help he has given me in getting the thing wired in and working – the joys of owning and actually using a soldering iron! That coupled with the Synesso means I am really enjoying making coffee these days, actually taking pleasure from the equipment which I suppose is unusual for us grumbling baristas. (Though saying that does already feel a little commercial as we are distributors for Synesso!)

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    Jepy-style Anfim and some nice espresso

    So in theory – life is ok! Still, like anyone else starting a business I’d like more sleep, more stuff and to find huge wads of cash lying around in the street. A man can dream…….

    SCAA/USBC

    (warning – long post and lots of big photos)

    So – many of you know I was very kindly invited to Minneapolis to be part of the blog team updating the SCAA Blog. I was in esteemed blogging company – Erin Meister, Travis (quiet but awesome videoist) and Katie and Zachary who happened to change the face of coffee blogging back in Tokyo last year. Our remit was simply to cover the show, and to some extent we were making it up as we went along.

    This was my first USBC and my last SCAA show had been Seattle in 2005. I had never attended any SCAA workshops before, so didn’t really know what to expect from that angle. Covering a talk ate up a lot of time, and often resulted in what seemed like not that much text. I think all of us were aware that we were writing for the SCAA, at their expense so we just tried to find the best of the show.

    Of course the real draw for most people was the USBC. This has to be the most hardcore of the barista competitions outside of the WBC. The open rounds had 50 spots, and those baristas were whittled down to 16 who joined the 9 regional champions in the semifinals. Some amazing baristas didn’t make it through round one, which was oddly depressing and inspiring.

    Chris Deferio

    A very calm Chris Deferio in the semis pouring lovely tulips

    Bronwen Serna

    Bronwen watching the clock

    The highlight of the competition for me was getting to MC the finals with Nick Cho. It wasn’t getting to be onstage, or talk rubbish into a microphone. It was getting all six of the finalists to make us an espresso after their performance was over. I know what you are thinking, it is what everyone has been asking – which was best?

    It is a difficult question to answer. Drew certainly had the advantage of making my first shot of the day, and it always tastes better when your body wants caffeine. Nick’s shot was really interesting though I was more focused on looking for the leather/sweet suede he described (which I totally got!). Heather’s shot reminded me of the WBC blend she brought to machine testing – quite heavy and with some prominent naturals. In contrast Chris Baca’s single estate Brazilian natural was not very naturally and super clean and complex. Pete’s blend was, in my humble opinion, more a traditional espresso blend (certainly in contrast to the three other single estate shots I’d taste) – quite heavy bodied and sweet. Kyle’s shot was stolen by Katie and he very kindly remade me a double. At this point I was quite caffeinated but his pull was very different to Nick’s – shorter and more intense, with the acidity a bit louder. Looking back it is tricky to pick a favourite but I told the people right after that it was probably Drew’s – though that isn’t to demean those other shots that were also truly excellent but suffered an increasingly caffeinated taster.

    I get to this point and I realise I haven’t really talked about the first round or the semis. I didn’t get to see all of either though it was kind of fun to be allowed onstage (to photograph) whilst a few awesome people performed. I enjoyed Ben Helfen go job hunting in Finland, and Lem Butler… what can I say – Lem was a pure drama, rollercoaster-ride of a performance that brought tears to my eyes when against all odds he came in on time despite luck being against him and scuppering the start of his set. Watch the video…..

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    Sexy Foam

    Come to think of it that stage was crazy – being up there was not a comfortable experience. The combination of the lights, the sound and the stadium seating meant you felt very distant from the audience and I think the overall experience threw a good number of the competitors. Perhaps those who had to go through round one had an advantage over those in the semis in that they knew a little more of what to expect from that. It looked great as a stage though!

    Chris Baca dosing

    Chris Baca in the Finals

    For onstage photographing I was often accompanied by Meister who was far better at being out of the way than I was, and also by Liz “Twitchy” Clayton. Talking to Liz we would often joke and aim to get the best possible intense judging pictures. This is one of my favourites, in my mind the portafilter is glowing like gold…..

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    Intense Judging

    Jay’s libation (I know Jon isn’t a God technically, but I couldn’t think of a better word – “toast” just doesn’t seem to do it) was a lot of fun – people always have high expectations of Jay’s performance and this was more touching than shocking.

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    Jay Handing out the beer

    One thing was clear this year – lots more talking about the coffee. Lots more, which I something I thoroughly approve of. Baristas were there representing their coffee in a different way, seemingly more aware of a barista’s position in the coffee chain. It seemed to be the first competition I’d seen where the espresso upstages the sig drink and that is something no one can complain about.

    I didn’t taste as much as I would have liked to – in terms of all the drinks, but I did manage to snaffle a few glasses out of the bussers trays. I’d like to apologise to the busser who tried to stop me tasting a drink, telling me I wasn’t allowed but unable to stop me because she was stuck holding the tray with both hands. (And no – I didn’t give it the “don’t you know who I am?!” crap, despite several people suggesting that this is the way to go in such situations…)

    No doubt Kyle’s individual sig drink preparations were a great little concept, in line with espresso being a drink prepared to order, for an individual opposed to other bulk brewing methods. Scott Lucey’s sig drink was also great – simple, yet very tasty and totally ticking the texture box for me with its custard component. I would have killed to taste Baca’s drink but the judges drank it all every time (as asked) so we (me, hopefully bussers, audience members, friends and bloggers) were left salivating but unsatisfied. I have to just add that the whole Ritual crew were very inspiring to me, as were the Intelli crew. People like that get me excited about coffee and I don’t think it is out of place to say that if there were a barista’s barista award at the show (as there have been at some regionals) then Baca may well have picked that up.

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    Those crazy

    Scott Lucey

    The ever awesome Scott Lucey

    One more note on the competition – the live feed. I can’t believe how well it worked out, how much fun it was to interact with people watching and on occaison to pick up the laptop and do a little backstage cam stuff. Sorry for my silliness. The quality of the feed will only improve and I hope to online as well as live at the WBC, interacting again with all those online watching things unfold.

    There is lots of other discussion circling around online – from the SCAA blog coverage to the grinders baristas were using onstage and the techniques that went along with them. The doserless Roburs are terrifyingly fast (2.5s for around 19-20g by the look of things) but I suspect the Anfim’s scored higher. It was great to talk to John Ermacoff about the mods he has done on the ones Ritual are using. I suspect that if you put John Ermacoff, Greg Scace and Andy Schecter into a workshop for a month, gave them unlimited budget, then they would come up with something that would totally change the way we brew espresso.

    I spent virtually no time on the show floor, which was quite frustrating as there were lots of people I wanted to see, but I had a few good drinks – the Chemex of Ethiopian Konga from Lindsay at 49th was delightful as was my espresso from Jeremy on the Synesso booth. Getting into lectures and workshops at the show was a privilege but I don’t really have anything to add to the stuff on the SCAA blog.

    So congratulations to Kyle. I am a big fan of his, it was a pleasure to watch him perform three times and to see that performance evolve onstage. He is not only technically outstanding as a barista but a great ambassador for specialty coffee in the United States. That and he makes me laugh quite a lot. Hopefully I’ll catch up with him before WBC, but if not I can’t wait to see him again there and see what he brings to the stage.

    I know I’ve missed out people, coffee and things and I apologise – I always forget stuff and my head still isn’t on the right way around. I am sure people reading this will have questions and I will try and answer them – and if I have forgotten obvious stuff (not unlikely) I will add to it asap.