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  • Coffeefest wrap-up.

    A month or so ago, a few of us trekked it down to Chicago for “coffeefest” one of the few trade-shows in our industry. It was a pretty exciting weekend, we had baristas competing in all three competitions. Keith competed in the latte art competition, Maria competed in the North Central Regional Barista Competition (our first ever competitor!) and Christopher did the Brewer’s cup and placed 2nd! Overall, it was pretty exciting. We are so proud of everyone who competed, and all the hard work they put in everyday back in Minneapolis.

    Driving down was sort of scary, because there was some pretty intense fog. Driving back was sort of ridiculous, since some of us left late Saturday night to try and beat the Sunday snowstorm that was coming. The time in between was fun though. We discovered “Stōk” at a gas station in Wisconsin, which is a “black coffee shot” in a creamer like container, that you can add to your dirty-airpot coffee for a bigger caffeine boost. The label says to limit 2 per day and not to give to children under 18. Amusing references to “Stōk” persisted throughout the weekend.

    The latte art competition is not limited to the North Central region, so there were competitors from all over: New York, Portland, Japan… pretty cool.

    The barista competition is pretty intense and the competition is pretty tough. There were some really well-seasoned competition baristas there, but also first time competitors like Maria. Maria’s performance was awesome and we are so proud of her!

    There was a good amount of Minnesota competitors, including Micah and Alex from Black Sheep Coffee in South St. Paul, and Michael from Quixotic in Highland Park. Good times!

    As for the Brewers Cup Competition, this is the first year—it seems to have gone well at all of the regional competitions so far, and it’s exciting to see a competition that is so focused on the actual coffee. Total dissolved solids readings are taken of each cup, and the competition is judged by certified Q graders. Competitors are required to brew three cups of coffee, using a manual brew method of their choice. For the first round—a “mystery” coffee is used. For those who make it to the finals, they get to use a coffee of their choice. Christopher used the Rwanda Kopakama Coop, which was #5 in this past Cup of Excellence competition in Rwanda. (Pssst. You can buy that coffee online here.)

    In a recent interview with.. uh, me… Christopher expressed his enthusiasm about the future of the competition:

    “Just excited for Houston,” he says, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his new “Stōk” wristband.

    I’m kidding about the wristband. Anyway, we are excited for SCAA and the future of the brewers cup competition.

    While in Chicago we got to visit some cool accounts of ours, including The Wormhole and Buzz: Killer Espresso. The Wormhole also threw a ridiculously awesome party the first night. Coffee events are all about the parties, also…coffee. Thank you guys for your hospitality. Intelligentsia also threw a party the second night, which some of us missed out on because of the foot of snow that was about to hit, but I’m sure it was awesome, as most of the Intelly parties are.

    The annual SCAA conference in Houston is coming up next week. Christopher will be competing in the Brewer’s Cup, and Keith will be judging the barista competition again. Should be a good time, since it’s going to be 90 degrees. I’m going to spend most of my time at SCAA partying and catching a tan by the hotel pool (if our hotel has a pool…) No, just kidding, much work to be done.

    cheers, stephanie
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