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Reports From the Road
Day 3 from the SCAA 2004 Atlanta
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: April 25, 2004
Article rating: 8.9
feedback: (20) comments | read | write
Day Two wrapup
Posted by Mark Prince, 11:20pm Permalink to this blog entry

Wow. Another super long day, and it's not over yet - I gotta type this. I also have to get up early to help Ken Davids in his home roasting lab, so I gotta make this quick. (BTW, I just uploaded another 36 photos at the tail end of yesterday's report, so make sure you check it out).

Quite a day. I judged in the semi finals of the USBC, and I'm very impressed with my "flight" of four Baristi - three of the four (Phuong, Bronwen, and Ryan) advanced onto the finals tomorrow. All in my flight were stellar - super stars. I gives me immense pleasure and gratitude that I can even be deemed worthy of judging these folks.

In the morning, I got roped (willingly, sorta) into being an SCAA Judge in another venue - I was asked to be a judge for the SCAA Awards program for best of show stuff. My category was "food", meaning I had to sample lots of chocolate and breads, and wafers, and scones and stuff. Sounds like a dream job, right? Naw. I'm not a huge chocolate fan, and I was pressed for time. But I did it, and visited a bunch of booths, trying their wares. Submitted on time too :)

In the afternoon, I had a singular pleasure. George Sabados, a brilliant espresso mind, and I did a very informal "espresso shootout" with some Nicaraguan we got, and then some Zoka Paladino. Actually, it didn't pan out like I hoped (head to head shot pulling), but I was able to pull some decent shots that George was complimenting left and right (even pointed out that I do something in my technique that he wished all top baristi did - a full grouphead AND portafilter flush after every shot).

The best part was when I decided to make him some macchiatos. He gave me some super compliments on it - heck, his eyes even popped when he drank it, and said "Mark, tell you what, this is the best Paladino I've ever had - is this the same shot build as your straight espresso?" "Yes". "Brilliant then!"

If I could ever "swoon" for a guy (not that there's anything wrong with that), I would have swooned at that moment :)

We attended the announcing of the finalists - Bronwen did a cartwheel, Billy jumped Danny O'Neil (that was funny). Phuong advanced as well, and I was so happy. Ryan, a guy I never saw before today (judged him today) also advanced and lemme tell you something - the guy's an absolute rock star.

Then it was off to La Marzocco's booth where they clued me in to some of their amazing new electronics on the new machines. I can't write about it now - too detailed. But soon.

I then went to the Barista party, and that was a blast. In fact, that's why I'm so late. I'd write about it too, but someone's holding minor blackmail against me (grin), so I have to keep the details confidential at the moment :)

More later today... last day!

Doing Laundry???
Posted by Mark Prince, 8:00am Permalink to this blog entry

It's raining today in Atlanta, and it's cooled down somewhat, which is nice.

I woke up late, but got to the Home Roasting labe in time to find out... Ken didn't need me! That's cool - I wasn't sure what I could do at the event.

I did make some observations though, which I'll expand on later. But it seems some of the C-Member events didn't go so well. Some of the problems were that organization and technical troubles caused some snaffus (mainly technical troubles). But, well, to be honest, some of the problems were social. Most internet "folks" are great people and very sociable, but well, to be blunt, some lack certain social graces, and it was especially noticable when newbies were around the hyper advanced "altie" type.

The weird thing is, there's actually nothing wrong with that in most senses, but in some cases, newbies got shut out of some events, and that's just plain wrong. They're there to learn. Not to geek out. But in some isolated cases, they didn't get a chance to learn.

When I was prepping my panel via email a few weeks ago, I said to all four participants "guys, keep an eye on the prize. Remember that we're there to promote better coffee in the retail and industry market. Geek out too much, and we'll lose them". And let me tell you, all four of my panelists did an amazing job - they were "geeks" for sure, but they really created some awesome line of communcation with the audience, and DIDN'T frighten any off. I didn't see one person leave the room during the panel - that's a sign that we had the audience in our hand.

That's all it took too - just telling these guys "keep an eye on the prize, don't geek out too much". And Jim, Bob, Richard and Marshall did an amazing job.

Maybe that's what we have to do next year in Seattle - talk to the hypers, and tell them what the whole purpose of this cMember thing is - to get a better chance at getting great coffee "out in the wild".

More later. I'm off to the Barista finals. BTW... I'm actually doing laundry right now :)

Bronwen Wins!
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

Bronwen Serna wins!

Second place is Phuong Tran, Third Heather Perry, tied for third (but fourth after tiebreaker) Ryan Dennhardt, Fifth Billy Wilson, Sixth was Kyle Larson.

More later... heaps of photos.

Last thoughts
Posted by , 5:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

I'm not longer at the convention either, but I didn't have a chance to post before I left Atlanta! I managed to to visit lots of booths. A round of thanks to Ghirardelli's Rob Masterson for all that chocolate.

I can say that I have now joined the Women's Coffee Alliance - which is a great cause to belong to. I am actually pretty pumped to see what I can do to help out with them! (sorry no photos folks, 'cause I'm on the wrong computer right now!)  If anything, I'll work hard on that article that I want to do. Just working on the focus, but I think I have found it.

I checked out all the Transfair booths, and visited a lot of coffee farmers. I have a whole load of CDs or DVD's (I'm not sure which yet!) to look over. Since I'm planning a Fair Trade article as well, I've been information gathering.

I managed to snap photos of as many different people, booths, and products. Actually, it got to a point where I was counting down photos before I realized that I probably shouldn't fill the card just in case Mark wanted to take a few photos of his own!  =)

I had a lot of fun at the convention. Old and new friends are always nice to see. I saw some of our members... Hi to Dan Kehn - moderator-extraordinaire, Marshall, Jim, Mark, and my apologies if I have forgotten to mention you. (I'm a little tired, and I was taking notes on who I saw!)

And da winnahs are....
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:55pm Permalink to this blog entry

I still have a ton of photos to post tonight (probably from the plane, no doubt!), but here's a whackamole from the competition awards! Let's celebrate. Bronwen won! It's about freakin' time! Way to go girl!

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Up on stage
The finalists make it up on stage for the beeg announcement
Phuong Tran
Phuong makes her way up.
The finalists
A group of the finalists waiting for the announcement
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Kyle Larson
Kyle, a very respectable sixth best Barista in the entire United States!
Billy Wilson
Billy came from just getting in the biz a couple of years ago to being fifth best in the country. Way to go, Bill!
Ryan Dennhardt
Ryan impressed everyone - 4th place (tied with third, but lost tiebreaker), and only doing this for nine months.
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Third place announced.
Heather Perry was announced third, so Bronwen and Phuong give each other a huge congrats and good luck hug before finding out who won
Heather Perry
Heather placed third this year, something she should be proud of. Way to go Heather!!!
Flash Photog....
The next few pics were taken just as emcee Danny O'Neil was saying second place...
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The moment
The moment Bronwen knew....
And it goes...
Both Bronwen and Phuong are happy, but guess who's happiest?
Phuong Tran
She took second best in all the US of A. Just a lil' Baristi and shop owner from a side road in a suburb of Vancouver, WA.
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I had two of these shots. oh well, can't delete it now :)
Bronwen Serna
Damned straight, she's the best in the country!
And here she is, accepting the golden La Marocco trophy.
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Hoist it!
She needs help lifting it up, it's so heavy!
The Johns and Bronwen
John Sanders, owner, Bronwen, and John Hornall, owner of Hines Public Market Coffee on Eastlake in Seattle, WA. Home of the US's best Barista!
Another smile
Sanders, you tenderfoot :)
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Three champs
Phuong, Bronwen, Heather - congrats!
Kyle Larson
Kyle displaying his trophy
Billy Wilson
Billy displaying his trophy.
more last thoughts
Posted by , 6:25pm Permalink to this blog entry

Some more photos of the trip. I didn't post everything I have because the photos are on the other camera!

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However, here are the judges hard at work making notes of a capuccino.
This is a special drink that had mint froth and required a siphon to create the layered effect. Very nice looking though!
I went by the Astoria booth, and they had this nice beautiful classic looking machine. I really liked the bird on the top. I suppose I should really take a better look at it some time.
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Something about red machines just make me all excited. Now this one I'm not sure what the performance on it is like, but doesn't it look pretty? Again, I'm still at the Astoria booth.
Hearthware had this great little roaster which I wonder how well it performs. I can happily say that there seems to be a fair amount of turblence for the roast though.
Wow. Atlanta's police wear white gloves. I think I was feeling a little under dressed for this particular photo I snapped at the airport.
Article rating: 8.9
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: April 25, 2004
feedback: (20) comments | read | write
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