I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am right now. First of all, simply for the time to write this post. Life is finally slowing down… Prior to the slow down, I am simply grateful for the outcome of the United States Barista Competition. I could not be more proud of the myself and the gentlemen that I was surrounded by in the final round. If you saw me during the finals, you might know how nervous I felt. My stomach was turning and twisting. Prior to competing I felt fine. Relaxed actually. Something about performing, doing my best, then watching everyone else- so flawlessly- doing their best, was the worst part of the whole weekend. Looking back on the situation, that nervous feeling was only a sign of how rivetting the final round was…
The new United States Barista Champion is Michael Phillips. Heading into the event, I’d be lying if I told you I thought I’d be writing that this year. However, nothing excites me more than being able to congratulate Mike. If you missed his presentation, you missed something truly remarkable. Mike used a coffee from Bolivia, and not only did he present the coffee well, but he showed the world that he is a great barista. Mike’s presentation involved shifting variables and using his coffee in ways that I’ve never seen a barista use coffee in competition before. For his espresso he pulled his coffee in a manner that would give it one flavor profile. Then Mike changed the flavor profile of his coffee to use in his cappuccinos. This could cause potential complications in his performance, but he did with poise.
I’ll keep this short for now… Before I go though, I must send out major ‘Thank You’s to several people… Including my Los Angeles teammates, Devin and Nick. Both have excellent eyes and opinions for competition. We do well in competition because we have each other… I’m amazed by the people who think we do well simply because we work for Intelli. I hear accusations like it’s because of the money, the equipment, or the time… No, friends, it’s the teamwork and our ability to be completely open and honest with each other that keeps us improving.
Much thanks really needs to go out to Doug Zell, owner and CEO of Intelligentsia. Doug’s vision for the company and what he wants it to be is what makes Intelligentsia such a great company to work for… and he’s done nothing but given us all a place to grow, learn, and flourish.
My girlfriend, Monica, is amazing. She designed and screen printed the menus I used in the competition. She is incredibly supportive and her patience is astonashing. She was that helping hand before each run-through… making sure everything had that perfect shine, and then she was there helping me at the washing station… Making sure everything was clean to either pack or move to the next round.
Kyle Glanville, Deaton Pigot, and Stephen Morrissey are all to blame for aspects of my presentation. Kyle is relentless in his critisims. He’s dastardly brutal and has had me to the point where I thought I was going to put in my two weeks notice… But everytime I bounce back and his ideas and thoughts sink in, I walk away as a better barista. Deaton has a keen eye… his feedback was encouraging and he never let us slip on our technical skills. He’d just tell me that my machine wasn’t clean enough… even when I was just pulling shots and messing around. Nick and Devin have been more open and wiling to acknowledge their help from Stephen Morrissey. I still feel like it’s something that I should be keeping quiet, but it’s true… Stephen is amazing. Just as a World Barista Champion should be. His ideas and opinions are inspiring and he’s got a lot of them to give. He’s loud and obnoxious at times, but in the end, he’s a great, more than helpful friend. Stephen came to give us a hand… and did it on his own dime. I can’t say how grateful I am.
Alright, that turned into a lot… I’m going now.