Northwest Regional Barista Championships

i spent a huge amount of time at the Northwest Regional Barista Championships while at NASCORE. in part, i wanted to cheer folks on. but largely i wanted to observe, to be a voyeur, and to be inspired.
and i was.

the level of professionalism... the passion... the committment...
it was incredible.
and best of all - i got to taste a bunch of the drinks. brilliant!!

Aaron DeLazzer judging. The judges were amazing. Not only did they consume a huge amount of coffee - they did so while keeping total poker faces and doing a fantastic job of evaluating the work of the baristi. And they're volunteers...

Billy Wilson of Crema preps backstage (love the polka dot cups!) and then serves his drinks.

Billy's signature drink was a "Absinthe Americano". He poured espresso into a cup, placed it on a chromed absinthe saucer, placed a half sugar cube on an absinthe "strainer" and then poured hot water that had been infused with anise over it. Nice...

Bronwen Serna didn't compete - instead spending her time judging and busing tables. Here she recovers from almost dropping the bus tray.

Cassie from Zoka doing her patter - and serving drinks. The Zoka folks were seriously prepared.

Heather Perry from Coffee Klatch was, as usual, a total polished pro. Here she serves her pumpkin specialty drink.

Jay is the man. He is the nicest, most enjoyable and most supportive person. Here, he gets ready to go on stage.

Jon Lewis from Doma was the Jesse Jackson of the barista comp. Philosophy - beat poetry - hand cranked grinders - big beat... he had it all! Here he serves his cappuccino and then his carbonated barley espresso specialty drink.

Jen from Zoka was so calm, so focused, so smooth and polished... big things are coming for her.

Eventual winner Kyle Larson from Zoka pouring his blueberry specialty drinks.

And serving the drinks to the judges. For what it's worth... I tasted this drink and it was rockin'.

Kyle serving his (awesome) cappuccinos.

The aforementioned cappuccinos.

As I mentioned above - the Zoka folks had it going on. They were organized and practiced and polished... total pros. Here's Team Zoka revving it up.

The finalists.... waiting to find out who won.
Congratulations to Kyle, Mark Pfaff and Cassie. You all are seriously inspiring!

The Coffee Community

going to NASCORE made me realize that this really is a community here.
people know eachother, people care about each other - it's very real.
in part this is simply due to the shared passion - but it's largely due to the kind of person who is in this industry.
this, more than anything else, made the trip so great for me.

so, following are photos of some of the great people in the business.

Billy Wilson and Duane Sorenson. Billy is a barista at Crema in Portland and a truly nice person. Duane is the founder of Stumptown and an amazing guy. Both of them were really nice and helpful and welcoming to me. Duane was truly the mayor and the host for all of us - making the Single Origin Shootout happen, making drinks for us, buying beers, taking us out to dinner... we all owe him a huge thank you.

Michelle Campbell, Bronwen Serna and Eli Rami. Michelle Campbell is the force behind the SCAA's events. Without her there would be no NWBC or the like. And she's a super nice person as well. Bronwen is the reigning US Barista Champ, works at Hines in Seattle and is an all-around great person. She was so fun to be around, made everyone happy and is hysterical to hang with at parties. Eli is from The Roasterie in Kansas City, busted his ass to make things run smoothly at the comp and was super cool.

Jodi from Stumptown. One of the partners at Stumptown and as a result one of the truly great forces in coffee. And, on top of that, she's super sweet and kind - she (in so many ways) made this trip good for us. Really welcoming - thanks for all Jodi!

Jon Lewis. Jon used to be at JJ Bean in Vancouver and is now at the hot upstart Doma in Idaho. He and his wife Kendall are truly some of the coolest people in the world. And, of course, Jon is an entertainer and performer in barista comps like you can not imagine! Plus - he gave Valerie 5lbs of Vito's Blend after she raved about it.

Terry from Espresso Parts NW. One of the nice guys - one of the good guys. A rare thing from a vendor! Terry sponsors just about everything related to espresso.

It was such a good weekend.
I can't even describe it.

Thanks - to all those above, and all those not above.
Be well,



back from Portland

so i'm back from Portland. back from NASCORE. back from coffee heaven...

i've got thousands of things to write about - and hundreds of pictures to post. so i'm going to break this up over the next few days.

i'll start off with some general, overview impressions.

first - the coffee industry is filled with the nicest, most interesting and intelligent and perhaps the most fun people in the world. it was incredible. the list of great people i met would go on for ages. suffice it to say that we're all really very lucky to be working here.

second - we all owe a huge debt to a bunch of particularly amazing people. first and foremost is the awesome Michelle Campbell. without her, none of this would work. i don't know how she does it. second is Brent Fortune - he threw the killer party at Crema afterwards. third is Duane Sorrenson - the de-facto coffee mayor of Portland and our host for many fun times. Stumptown rules.

third - the highlights of the weekend (for me)... the single origin shootout at Stumptown. an incredible experience. eye-opening, rewarding, challenging, intense, enjoyable, tasty, hysterical... wow! Jon Lewis' performance at the WRBC. if you saw it, you know what i mean. tasting Kyle's drinks at the comp -- inspiring! and finally... sitting at the bar at Stumptown with various baristi and coffee freaks, drinking brilliant espresso drinks and coffee prepared by Duane and talking shit on the morning after the show. a true community.

lovin' it.

a couple of pictures to serve as teasers....

Aaron and Alexarc judging

Single Origin Shootout (Duane, Dismas, Stephen, Marcus and Ellie)