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Reports From the Road
SCAA Seattle 2005, Day 2
Posted: April 17, 2005
Article rating: 7.9
feedback: (15) comments | read | write

Day 2 of the SCAA show in Seattle is also the second day of the World Barista Championship, wrapping up the preliminaries. We plan to have updates all day long from the trade show floor, from the WBC and even the announcement of the six finalists this year.

Let's get it on!

Seminar: Zen Coffee Meditation - Wake up and Smell the Coffee
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 8:00am Permalink to this blog entry

The attendance at the Zen Coffee Meditation "Wake Up and Smell the
Coffee" wasn't close to the full crowd seen at presentations related to the technical aspects of making high end quality coffee; about 25 people attended, which is less than last year's event in Atlanta (so I've been told).

Fortune Elkins, the SCAA's consumer liaison member, pioneered the idea of having Zen Coffee at conference, after seeing it at a Specialty Tea Conference. The presenter, Buddhist monk Rev. Frank Jude Boccioa, based his presentation on the ideas of Buddhism, emphasizing the need to follow the Five Contemplations of Mindful Eating and Drinking Gathas.

I have to admit I have never thought of coffee as a meditation tool. But after a 20 minute meditation where in total silence I drank the cup of coffee with the rest of the group, I realized any food or drink can be a tool to clear your mind and escape the fast-paced and stressful society we live in.

Drinking coffee mindfully allows one to let go of all thoughts and simply pay attention to the sensorial experience of coffee. Having done yoga in the past, I was very surprised by being able to achieve that sense of total peace and relaxation I got after the coffee meditation.

Being a person who loves both coffee and meditation, I was ecstatic to be able to combine them! In the discussion we also covered the ethical aspects of growing coffee and the importance of it in relation to experiencing the energy of it.

It was definitely an enjoyable break from the fast paced exhibition grounds and all the high tech coffee gadgets. Namaste!

Workshops: Brewing Fundamentals and Cupping Skills (2)
Posted by Mark Prince, 10:25am Permalink to this blog entry
Click for larger image

I stopped in on two workshops this morning - the brewing fundamentals workshop, and one of the cupping labs.

The Brewing Fundamentals workshop is running on all its cylinders, and is one of the better workshops offered by the SCAA. There's no built in excuses or opt outs for quality coffee in this workshop - every point stressed is a point directed towards getting quality coffee.

Details in the class are very technical, and I for one like to see that. They get in depth into, well, the "bed depths" of the spent grinds, how dispersion of brewing water is a major factor, and touch on details most of us Coffee Geeks know - tempts at 195F-205F for the brewing water, proper saturation methods for the coffee, etc.

There is some good discussion on how to make your workflow at your cafe or restaurant better, while maintaining a high coffee quality.

There were approximately 45 people in this class (a full house), and while I left the session before this, there was also a hands on drinking demonstration to show defective brewing methods along with optimum brewing methods. I know from personal experience doing this on my own with people that it's an eye opener.

Cupping Class

The cupping classes at the SCAA are always popular, and they really do teach a lot of skills. The cuppers get the SCAA's guidelines on how to properly cup and evaluate coffee, and are first put through a calibration session before getting down to the nitty gritty.

The session I sat in on was cupping Bolivian and Colombian coffees, and in the calibration, you saw some newbies who were learning a lot, and some newbies who had surprisingly good palates and tastes for the coffees they were trying.

One cool thing - I noted that a lot of the cuppers were using Pocket PCs or Palms... it's rapidly becoming the defacto tool for coffee cuppers. Gotta love new technology!

On a side note, in my own continuing progression in cupping, I bought the Nez du Cafe kit from the SCAA at this show - all $275 of it. I plan to really hone my own cupping skills this year. Passing the SCAA's Sensory Skills test is my impetus; I think I finally feel confident enough to progress in cupping. Who knows, instead of observing this next year, I may take a course.

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Brewing Lab
Room was packed with people learning how to brew coffee better.
"Wettability" of ground coffee discussed in a slide.
Eww. Scale. Blech. A graphic example.
Cupping samples
Samples of Colombian and Bolivian coffee for the cupping seminar.
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Cuppers go through a calibration before getting down to the nitty gritty.
Pocket PC!
Lots of these were evident.
finding out where everyone's palate is before getting really into it.
Seminar: Confessions of a Champion Barista
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 1:00pm Permalink to this blog entry
Tim, Fritz and Bronwen

It was a one time chance for me to hear how three Barista Champions got themselves involved in the Specialty Coffee, and it was a great seminar to attend. "Confessions of a Champion Barista" included Bronwen Serna (USBC 2004), Tim Wendelboe (WBC 2004) and Fritz Storm (WBC 2002). It was interesting hearing their personal stories of how they got the passion for that perfect, world class cup of espresso.

Serna has been a barista for about four years and she has come a long way in such a short time! She won the 2004 United States Barista Championship in Atlanta, facing stiff competition. She started drinking coffee in her college years and for a while was a regular at Starbucks. I was amazed the she admitted to that, since I have noticed certain stigma attached to Starbucks at this show, especially amongst the elite of the Third Wave.

I did like her statement that Starbucks has opened the doors to the cafe culture in North America. Working at her current position at Hines Public Market in Seattle allows Bronwen to combine her passion for coffee and working with good, knowledgeable people in the coffee business.

Fritz Storm has been involved with coffee scene for over ten years. This 2002 World Barista Champion and accountant by profession is not only a top barista but also a coffee lecturer, trainer and consultant. Since becoming the World Champion he has been spending a lot of time away from him native Denmark being involved with competitions and training. Coffee has become part of Fritz's life and he has been finding it way more stimulating than doing Accounts Receivable. He has two beautiful sons and a wonderful wife back in Denmark.

The last year's World Barista Champion, Tim Wendlboe from Norway, shared with us the story of how he got into coffee: by fluke. Back in 1998, straight out of high school and working at a grocery store, Tim has been looking around for another job and after applying all over the town he got hired at a small coffee shop. Soon enough he was fascinated by the whole process of growing, roasting and brewing coffee. Being a self described perfectionist, he started looking for different ways of making exceptional coffee.

I watched with pleasure the passion all of the three presenters share for coffee and I will be interested following their careers, either as contestants or judges in the future competitions.

It Exists: The La Marzocco Consumer Machine
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:15pm Permalink to this blog entry

Yes folks, after several long years of negotiations, discussion, panels of experts talking, and a lot of sweat and effort by a guy named Bill Crossland, the La Marzocco Consumer Machine (no official name yet) exists. Here's some exclusive first photos.

Click for larger image Click for larger image
La Marzocco Consumer Machine
This is the preproduction, fully functioning model. In fact, it had been beaten up in it's first "showing" (even dropped) and though some things weren't working properly, the machine as a whole was still pounding out shots.
Man behind it.
Bill Crossland has been a champion behind the scenes at La Marzocco for this machine, and now it's come to fruition. I want 002 off the line, Bill!

Details that I can talk about.

Initial price point: TBA
Boilers: 2, with preheater (steam boiler draws most power) Steam is 3 litres, boiler is 1.
Automatic, with all the new GB5's internal electronics and controls
110V, designed that way from the ground up
Paddle Wheel, GS2 grouphead (still in development - mock up on this machine)
PID built in
1 gallon reservoir
Similar styling to the most unique usable machine out there - the Speedster
Plumbed in / out optional
220/240 power optional
Size, 13 inches high, deep enough to allow about 4 to 5 inches on a standard kitchen counter.
Weight (???)
Availability: This summer or early fall.

Get your calls in folks.

WBC - Your Final Six for Monday!
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:50pm Permalink to this blog entry

Without further adieu, (except to apologize for the image quality - it was a zoo there), here are the final six for tomorrow's WBC Finals, in the order announced.

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Gunnhilde Seljenes
She was the most surprised! ;)
Jonina S. Tryggvadottir, Iceland
In the green jacket - way to go!
Carl Sara, New Zealand
Way to go Carl! Represent!
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Troels Overdal Poulsen, Denmark
Troels did an amazing performance, very well deserved!
Hiroyuki Kadowaki, Japan
Amazing performer!
Salvatore Piccolo, Canada
Hot DAMN. Canada in the finals!

I know I'm not supposed to be biased here, but....


And a PS... Phuong was amazing... and seventh place, only 1/2 a point behind sixth. My heart goes out to her, but she's always going to be a champ in my book.

Article rating: 7.9
Posted: April 17, 2005
feedback: (15) comments | read | write
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