United States Top 10 Regional Scores

With half the regionals over… and the 6th to be completed tomorrow, I figured it’s time to start posting a top-10 list. These are the 10 highest scores, thus far, available on the SCAA website. It’d be rad if someone could send me the scores for the Mountain Region… Also, keep in mind that this lacks both the Great Lakes and Midwest Regions… Not to mention the entire Eastcoast. Anyway, here we stand…

1. Nick Griffith- 682.5

2. Devin Pedde- 677

3. Ryan Willbur- 668.5

4. Renee Teichen- 638

5. Clancy Rose- 607.5

6. Jared Truby- 605

7. Sara Peterson- 600.5

8. Alex Pond- 595

9. Kristina Marryman- 588.5

10. Kevin Fuller- 588

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A Competitive Spirit Pt. 2

It should be noted that I just received an email from Greg apologizing and explaining that he meant no disrespect. In no way am I holding anything against Greg. I am looking forward to meeting him, and I sincerely want to congratualte him for his victory as a result of hard work.

As I told Greg, my post was not to be aimed completely at him, but he set a nice stage for me to plead my case. We did not get where we are, as baristas or competitors, by simply having it handed to us. All three of us have worked to be what we are today, and for that we are proud.

A Competitive Spirit.

Much thanks, first, needs to go out to those who have sent all the congratulatory messages to Nick, Devin, and myself. Though my competitive nature is left unsatisfied, I am grateful for the outcome and excited for Portland. That said, onward, to my initial reason for posting.

To Mr. Gregory Lefcourt and those who feel the same,

In a recent interview (posted here), it seems that somewhere you received the wrong impression of me…

“Three baristas from [Portland roaster] Intelligentsia won the three top spots. These guys have apparently been training rigorously to win the competition, rather than pulling a full day’s work. This is extra curricular for me. I am busting my ass on a daily basis serving 300 people. I am not saying these guys aren’t, but I just know there is talk going around the industry that there are guys who are not serving fulltime.”

First of all, I’m not sure what exactly Greg is saying here. Early on, he accuse me of not putting in a full days work, but then partially recants the statement, to where it sounds like he thinks I’ve only been working part time. I want to reassure you that I have been working 35+ hours a week. You see I have to. I am not paid to train for competition and it is for me, extra curricular. In order to keep up on my bills, I must work at least 35 hours a week.

Beyond those 35 hours a week, Devin Pedde and I are responsible for most of the training that occures in our coffee bar. Currently, we have around 14 people, all in different stages of climbing the ladder to become baristas. You see, at Intelligentsia (A Chicago based Co.) a barista is more than an individual who pulls espresso and steams milk. Our baristas are trainers. Our baristas are coffee experts. They teach home brewing courses, they lead in store cuppings, and to become a Barista, they take a 1200 point test. We too live and breath coffee.

My competition training generally occures in the afternoon. Typically, I wake up at 4 AM, I open the coffee bar, I leave at noon. I grab some lunch… maybe a quick nap, and try to make it to our roasting facility by 1 or 2 PM. I like to spend time in our training lab. It’s where I became in Intelligentsia Barista and it’s where I go to try to become a better barista. I usuallly end up at the lab unti either 7 or 8 PM.

The time I have spent in that lab has been very rewarding… Mr. Lefcourt, I do serve hundreds of customers a day… and many of them were there to see me compete. They took pictures as I held my trophy, and the next day, they were there to greet me and congratulate me. They like to make funny jokes about how Devin beat me… Best of all, they now keep asking when the USBC is going to happen. They want to know and they want us to win. They see me 5 days a week… and the other two, no one sees me because I am in the lab.

I do not regret a moment I spend practicing and readying myself for the WRBC. If I regret anything, it’s that I didn’t repull that first set of espresso in the finals, I didn’t steam those caps hot enough, and I shouldn’t have used as much ginger in my signature beverage. I might regret not beginning my practice sooner, but I do not regret any of the time and effort put into this event. I am a better barista for it.

So, to anyone and everyone…we will have the opportunity to meet in Portland, OR. I’m excited to compete in my home town. I’m excited to work hard, find a new coffee, and to get to know that coffee. I look forward to seeing all my barista friends and hearing all of their stories of late night practice antics… and if, in the mean time, you happen to be in Los Angeles, please come by, snag an espresso, and I’ll be happy to take care of you.

Now, I’m taking a week off of training to celebrate… and honestly, I don’t know what to do with the time.

WRBC 2009

Being that I competed yesterday in the WRBC, round 1… Today I am working on taking photos and exploring the new G10… So far, it’s doing the job.

Anyway, my round went well. I had some fun. I hope I get to have some more fun. For the first run of the year, it went well.

I’m uploading some photos as I type and I hope to get more every hour or so…

photo la

I guess its safe to call it “January Maddness” or something like that, here in the good ol’ US? With the NWRBC half-over, there’s still two more regionals left in the month, including the Western. It’s a busy time of year. Which is interesting, because every retail environment I’ve worked in has slowed down for the month of January. I guess that’s the best time to compensate with some events.

Los Angeles is buzzing with an event called Photo la. Last year, I had the privilege of working an entire bar shift with our roaster, Deaton Pigot. The venue was smaller and so was the crowd. This year, I spent some time with one of our sales reps, James Marcotte. We setup shop with a two group Synesso, a Robur-E, and a Trubrew pour over bar.

Now, it’s always exciting and fun for me to step outside of our coffee bar and to serve the public elsewhere. I’m not comfortable and I stay more on my toes. Yesterday was no different. Somehow, it seems that even in the paper cup, my espresso tastes better and my art is more on par with what I know I’m capable of. Beyond that, it’s more fun when you’ve got fresh faces… curious ones at that.

Of course, we were presented with some interesting challenges. It’s really impressive how much people really think they know about making coffee. It serves as a reminder of how little ground we’ve gained and how far we have to go in educating Los Angeles. The experience was also educating for us, in the means that we received a taste of what it is like to have a busy bar and use a pour-over brew bar. I hadn’t used a melitta setup since I was working at Kopplin’s… before we received our Clovers. I have to say, that for the first time, I really was frustrated by the sale of the company to Starbucks. All we needed was a pair of Clovers, and I would have known exactly what to do.

In the end, we built a rythm and had a good time. Operating a high volume coffee bar and maintaining quality is still the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced in coffee. I think this year, you are going to hear me talking about it more and more.