Well, day one is done… almost. In a couple hours we’ll all be at The Albina Press, ready and willing to down 3 kegs of Widmer Brothers beer and 7-8 different espresso blends! Yeah for depresents and stimulants! But seriously, if you ever have the chance to try a Widmer beer, make sure you do so! Incredible.
Anyway, the news of the day Eight competitors have thrown down what they’ve got… Kicking it off was the Zoka-man, Kenji from Japan. He did an excellent job, especially being that the competition wasn’t exactly set to work with translators and all… Not too long after, Albina Press Owner and mighty fine barista, Kevin Fuller took to the stage for the first time in this competition format. Kevin rocked it as he always carries himself… smooth. His drinks looked good, and things felt consistent. Just as the shop presents itself, there was a confident (not cocky) air flowing between Kevin and Billy. They just felt as they were… at home.
The next dude who stands out in my mind from Kevin was Ryan Dixon from Stumpies. He chose a Nicaraguan coffee as his epsresso. He’s the first competitor I’ve seen forget a runner… but in the end, it may have helped as he finished way under time. I haven’t seen the score sheets in a long time, but if forgetting a runner adds that much time, there may be a concept here.
Somewhere in the mix, Ryan from Paradise rocked his gig. He had some microphone issues, which lead to time issues, all kinda generated by nerve issues, but still showed some fine skill in the creating of his espresso.
Finally, the talk of the town, Billy Wilson… Who rocked the crowd in a way I’ve never seen before. Now, keep in mind, O’l William here was throwing judges rose water americano’s two years ago… oh, and the aguave macciato at last years NW regionals… Well, he’s fully redeemed himself with not just the Hairbender Espuma, but now, espresso caviar… WTF? Let me tell ya… I got a taste of these tiny little espresso balls, and wow. There is an awesome concept here… Of course, being that an amazing signature drink isn’t everything he had some minor issues… but played it smart… as a competitor of 5 years should. Part of the suave coolness of Albina today was brought in when they brought in bar stools… A comfy alternative to the judges standing all day. Well, all was going great except Billy forgot to put the stools behind the judges table. So, his first minute was spent moving the stools for the judges and encouraging them to relax and take a load off… That minute is pretty much the amount of time Billy went over… Like I said though, he played it smart. Rather than freak out and rush to get it all done, he gracefully took the 20 point deduction… and then the 40, and with a calm manner, finished his signature drink and aweing us all…
Those are just the highlights of the day. Other little details that were cool would be meeting the ever-so-funny Klaus, seeing the Ritual kids and hearing of their growing success, talking with Philip Search and hearing of his new endeavor (Mutiny’s on the horizon!), Chillin with P-Diddy (AKA Phuong Tran), Hearing Klaus call Brent Fortune young and cute (or something of that caliber), having one of the best burgers ever below the venue while sitting at the bar with Philip and Ryan from Paradise and cathing up a bit with Duane, seeing the smiling face of Jenn Prince, taking advice from Joel Pollock, and (shamefully) having my first true gin martini…
This is day 1! Two more days of craziness! Tomorrow is the big one! Much going on… including the reture of Kyle Larson! Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome!