To Santa Cruz and Beyond…

Shortly after the SCAA and USBC, it became apparent to some of us that seeing each other once in a while at a trade show really wasn’t all that great. Brent Fortune had a great idea… let’s get a bunch of rad west coast baristas and escape our bars. So, Devin and I did. We met Brent, Chris Baca, and Drew Cattlin at a little camping ground called Costanoa… America’s first luxury campground. Jared Truby and the Verve crew were more than welcoming to us. There are some seriously rad baristas chillin around that shop… and everything I had, be it americano, espresso, machiatto, or french press… was off the chain!

Anyway, after a nice break from the bar, the competitions, and all the other stress of working in coffee. We got back to basics and what really makes a good cup of coffee… the coffee itself, and fire. Yes, fire… Here’s the proof.


Minneapolis (Prep Day)

The day is not done. Nor near it. I’m waiting for a few people to gather so we can head to the Nook and eat delicious burgers. The plan is to stuff myself now, and eat nothing but bananas and drink water in the morning. I compete 3rd, meaning, not a lot of fun tonight. My napkins are ironed. My cart is fairly-well loaded, and just needs some polishing. Still need to iron my clothing and table cloth. I’m definitely dehydrated. Hoping to remedy that before tomorrow. It’s been a long day.

Somehow, I was the first up at 8:00 this morning. We met quickly and moved my wares to the space. Devin and Nick followed with their stuff as well. We practiced and tasted shots. Thanks to everyone who contributed with feedback… 4 hours were spent recovering broken pieces and gathering milks and water. Near the end, Kyle said it best… “It feels like 8:30, the clock says 6:30, and at home it’s 4:30…” Our bodies are thrown. Bed time by 10 would be a dream… and I’ve got a couple hours to make that happen. It probably won’t, but a guy can dream.

On the up side, it’s great to see so many friends and fellow competitors. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend and I’m stoked to finish tomorrow, and party it up tomorrow night. My good friend, Jake, will be DJing the event. This means I will be dancing at some point… maybe alone in a corner, but it will happen.

If you are in MPS and can make it to the competition for the first hour, I recommend it. It will be banging… I know the first two competitors well and they won’t let you down… and I’ll do my best as well. See you soon…

We leave today!!!

Back in the day at the Bungalow

We’re about to run some errands before we embark on this epic journey. I can’t even imagine how much money in wares will be shipped, planed, and driven into Minneapolis over the next couple of days! Best of luck to everyone in getting their stuff to the twin cities…
I found this picture the other day… taken on Stephen Morrissey’s laptop. I felt this was a good way to kick this off! We’re coming…

The Eve of Something Grand.

Wares are shipped. Coffee is packed. Now, we just have to figure out where it’s all going when we get to the aiport. We’re tight on space. I’m stoked for this adventure. Devin and I managed to get today off to completely focus on packing and preparing for the trip. Tomorrow, we are running to Target to get a 4th suitcase for all our coffee. We’d prefer not to have to put any coffee in the cargo hold of the plane, but it seems inevitable at this point. We’ll cross our fingers I guess. We arrive around 9:30 tomorrow night. The plan is to inventory and try to hit the stores before the noon competitors meeting on Thursday, so we can grab and replace anything that may have broken.

Somewhere shortly after the Western, someone decided to clean out the training lab, and they tossed my water glasses and some of Kyle’s stuff. He’s set to rock, but I figured there was no point in buying new water glasses, only to ship them across the US… so, that’s my agenda.

I’m excited to just get my wares into the space and unpack. That’ll be the first big burden off my chest. From there, the rest of the weekend is gravy. We’ve got some hottness coming for the Intelli booth that I think everyone will enjoy. Most of all, I’m stoked to see and taste what everyone else is bringing to the show.

I’m really stoked for Thursday night where I’ll be putting off pre-comp jitters, enjoying coffee at Kopplin’s, and devouring a Juicy Lucy. Beer won’t come for me until after round 1. I can’t express how difficult this will be for me in a place that runs rampant with good brew. Los Angeles does not. Effe. See you all soon!

Weekend Escaping (Chicago Pt. 2)

My friend, Devin Pedde, and I just got back from an awesome two day escape back to the city of Chicago. It was a much needed time for both of us. Things are getting crazy in all directions. Life’s stressful, SCAA is just around the corner. We both just needed some time to really get away. So, we packed up my jeep and busted down to the Windy City for a couple days of exploration and experience.

Upon arrival in Chicago, we headed to the roasting works for a cupping with Marcus Boni, Sarah Kluth, and Doug Zell. The cupping was practically a necessary after leaving Minneapolis around 7AM. Of course, no trip to Chicago is complete without a stop in Milwaukee to visit Alterra, and the people’s hero… Scott Lucey. Anyway, the cupping involved some of the Direct Trade offerings and a couple other coffees in the Intelli line-up. Standing out most on the table was either the Papua New Guinea or the Peru. Both were solid coffees with few flaws. The New Guinea tasted much like mango or passion fruit to me and was very enjoyable. The Peru had a very veggie like aroma with a medium chocolate-like body and flavor.

From the cupping, Doug and Sarah bounced with us over to a bar called The Matchbox. Which is, literally, a bar. There’s room for no more and no less. The best part about being in Chicago is the availability of New Belgian’s Fat Tire. I probably should have realized how great of a beer this is before I moved to the ‘Tireless’ state of Minnesota. We BS’d the night away until Doug had to bounce home to put his daughter to bed.

Being exhausted, we trekked our way over to master barista, Mike Philips apartment, where we ended up crashing that night. Initially, we had every plan on making to The Map Room… but with our lack of energy, and the fact that Mike had to open the Broadway store the next morning, we thought it best to just stay in. However, that did not keep us from enjoying a little rum. For months now, Miguel has been sharing with me how excellent this ‘Ron Zacapa Centario’ rum is… So, you should have seen the look on my face when Mike pulled out a bottle. Miguel was right… the stuff does not disappoint.

Devin and I had made arrangements to meet up with Mr. Boni the next day to explore the Chicago stores. However, we were up way before we needed to be, so we took to the streets of the city. I miss big, busy cities. It was lovely finding a new breakfast spot around every corner. Almost everyone of them had an Intelligentsia logo somewhere. Eventually we caught up with Marcus and on to Broadway we went!

The weather was perfect the entire time we were in Chicago. With so much sunshine and the bustle of the city, Chicago was ten times more appealing than any past visit has been. We made our way into the Broadway store, which was rockin’ very steady. We ran into Matt Riddle, who was passing through on his way out and about the city with his bike. I like Matt… he’s all-champion with no ego. Mike Philips, who just made the change to working in a retail store, is yet to be bar certified. So, he kindly took our orders and made sure we received a couple nice cups of cat.

Watching Marcus as we visited each store was cool. It’s a Saturday, the guys showing us around, and more often than not, the moment he’s in the store he’s asking the employees how they are, helping out, collecting loose dishes, and just making sure every customer is being taken care of. He’s thorough. Even as we were on our way out of the Broadway store, he stopped for a few minutes to talk to a customer who was sitting outside the store. He was was making sure she was enjoying her drink and informing her that next week the out door furniture would be out for her to enjoy.

Our last stop was the Millenium Park store. I’ve seen the Broadway store a few times, but the Millenium Park store is so different… and beautiful. It’s very polished and sheik. The lighting and sign-age is awesome. We had a few drinks there and tried some of the coffees we had on the cupping table, pulled from the Clover. The Kenya from the day before was no longer muted like it had been. It was shining citrus and sweet melon. Lovely! We wrapped up our visit and Marcus dropped us off back by the Jeep.

It was a lovely couple days escaping Minneapolis and life. It was nice to be around more passionate coffee professionals. Now, it’s back to getting things together. Billy Wilson flies into town tomorrow. It’ll be good to see him. SCAA is less than two weeks away and I am stoked to see everyone there!

Oh, and be on the lookout for a new Twin Cities publication… The Twin Cities Imbiber. The cover was shot at Kopplin’s and my latte art is on the cover. Jeff Halvorson, the guy putting it together is a very knowledgeable beer resource and is a passionate imbiber himself. I think the publication is going to be sweet and really help specialty coffee in the cities…

Updates and Travels

Apple called. My computer is ready… $180 later. I’m in Portland for the (long) weekend. At least the thing will be ready when I get back.

My tattoo is awesome and makes me happy. No, there will be no pictures until it’s completely finished.

I have to say a major congratulations to Lizz Hudson at Stumptown. I absolutely had to stop by their new store. The Ace hotel is awesome, and the cafe they’ve built is even cooler. 4 Clovers, 2 Mistrals, and a lot of great coffee.

Spent Friday in Seattle. I consumed more great shots of espresso than ever before. I’ll write a full recap when I am back and have my computer to work with…