Breaking the Silence.

You’ll have to forgive me for the absurd amount of silence, as of late. I really have no excuse for my lack of new content.

I’m writing this from a very cold Intelligentsia Roasting Works, here in drizzly, Los Angeles. The lack of gas has not only turned our hearts cold, but it’s starting to turn the building cold as well. Then again, it is 10:00 PM and rarely is anyone here this late in this poor of weather.

I, however, have been wracking my brain on signature beverages for the past 4 hours. Monday, Devin, Nick, and I are heading to Las Vegas to join a handful of other coffee professionals, in attempting to put on the first ever SW Regional Barista Competition. So far, I believe Devin and I are the only two confirmed competitors. This weekend has truly snuck up on us, and I can feel the deadline drawing closer by the hour. Then again, I guess that’s why we chose to do this, to light a flame underneath ourselves and to plunge head first into our preparation for the Western Regional.

I had an excellent concept for a signature beverage, and just as concepts often can do, it fell right through the cracks of logic and science. Better said, it tasted terrible. However, I clung to one of my other ideas, and tonight, that too has fallen apart right before me. I’m running out of time.

But I’m enjoying almost every minute of this. I’m about to compete out of region, so I don’t feel pressured to floor anyone with how amazing my drink will be. It’s just a matter of making smart decisions and planning this out well. I think I have a concept that will be just what I need. Simple, somewhat original, and hopefully delicious.

I always love competition preparation. It’s a time to step back, remove the impatient customer, and have a go at it with the best coffees you can find. It’s a chance to clean up my bar behavior and to gain some poise.

However, it can also cause you to focus to much on coffee, just as I have the past 3 days. I’ve lost a sense of balance, and as a result, really struggled yesterday on bar. It wasn’t a matter of me making good drinks, it was a matter of me making the drinks I was being asked for. It was enough to have me breaking down in the middle of a line and really needing to refocus. I think the point that got to me was the order for a large latte with extra milk… Which, upon a couple words of how our lattes work, soy and an extra shot of expresso were added to the details. But that was yesterday…

Also on the list of new life lessons, I’m learning how throwing yourself too far into your work can be damaging to your relationships. I’m impressed now by the Kyle Glanvilles and Deanna Mustards out there. As I have only been doing this for a short time. However, it is my wonderful girlfriend who got to hear all about that large soy latte with an extra shot of expresso… According to her, I need to gain a better sense of reality and maybe lighten up a little. I say the world needs a few people like me… radicals, if you will. Just not the kind you see on the news…

On the bright side, black cat is becoming kind of awesome. Mr. Glanville has been working on the blend and has made some changes that make me smile. I think his hard work is paying off, as the blend is becoming both easy to work with, and beautiful when dialed in properly.

Anyway, I’m going to go try to figure out a drink to present to the judges on Tuesday. Make sure to check in for updates on this competitor-less regional. I mean, really, it’ll just be stories of Marcus, Brent, Michelle, Devin, Nick, and I hanging out anyway… Oh, and Phuong. She’s dropping by as well… Good times will be had by all…

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