Last weekend, Intelligentsia held it’s first Los Angeles In House Barista Competition. For me, the night was inspiring. There were 7 competitors, of which 4 would be moving on to compete in the Western Regional Barista Competition. Silver Lake, Venice, and even Millenium Park stores were all represented. Naomi Vaughn came all the way from Chicago to represent as an out of region, in house competitor.
I witnessed some seriously interesting presentations. There’s something about a competitor who has never seen a competition before that just seems to keep them free to be him or herself. My favorite presentation had to have been Jeff Gershik, a barista from Silver Lake. Jeff has an intense personality… and he showed just that to his judges. His opening line was simply, “I get board easily.” He then went into talking about how his short attention span leads him to like extreme things. Which, then moved into talking about how is coffee, a Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, was extreme (as in bright, acidic, floral, and unbalanced). The moment was so brutally and beautifully honest.
I opened the competition. My body decided to remind me that it’s competition season, and therefore I need to treat it that way… It’s been awhile since I poured hearts like the ones I did… It’s also been awhile since my hands shook that much. (Hydration is key, kids.) My coffee was a washed bourbon from Finca Santuario in Cauca, Colombia. It was pretty tasty that night. Though, I was still familiarizing myself with it… and therefore probably could have given it a couple more days to rest.
When the coffees had been presented, and the cappuccinos poured… The other competitors and I all waited for the results in typical fashion (with whiskey in hand). First place, and the first spot in the WRBC went to Mr. Devin Pedde. I had the honor of taking second. Third place, went to Ms. Nicole Mournian, and fourth place belongs to Mr. Gabriel Combs. The four of us will be preparing over the next few weeks to rep our shops hard at the WRBC. I’m stoked for this team, and I know we’re going to have some fun together…