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Reports From the Road
SCAA Photo Essay: USBC Competition
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: May 5, 2004
Article rating: 8.2
feedback: (6) comments | read | write

This year's USBC in Atlanta was an exhibit of excellent in Barista skills, from the eventual first place finisher, right on down to the 32nd place Barista. I hope all are proud of making it to this level and competiting, no matter where they placed.

I got so many photographs of the Baristi competing, but I wanted to only present a couple of highlighted performers - Billy Wilson Sandy Hon and Mark Pfaff. Sandy because I think she's an awesome representative of the mid west, and Billy because, well, he's a "sometimes" writer on this website, and I think this highlighted performance was his best of the competition. Mark is featured because he's a superstar Baristi who's competed many times, and he's just a joy to watch perform. Enjoy!

Trophies

-

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Champion's Trophy
Silver Second
Bronze Third
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Fourth Place
Fifth Place
Sixth Place

Sandy Hon Competes

Some photos of Sandy Hon in the preliminaries. Sandy is one of my fave Baristi, and one of the best in the midwest.

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Getting Ready
Sandy is getting ready for her fifteen minutes to start
Talking to Emcee
The Emcee handles the intros...
Setting up
Sandy sets up the table for the judges. She's into her fifteen minutes.
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Workin' the Bar
Sandy was very fluid and smooth as she went through her drink builds.
Grinder
Working the grinder as judges look on carefully.
Tamping Technique
Note the straight arm; also, in all my photos of Sandy tamping, she's very consistent. Judges look for that.
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Set Up
Sandy's trays and such for bringing out drinks and building the variety of drinks.
Working on Signatures
Sandy's working on her signature drink build.
The finished drink
After the judges were done evaluating her drink

Billy Wilson

Billy was intense when he competed, but I thought this was his best performance of the three times he competed. Way to go Billy (and hey, no more dissing the senior editor in the forums, k?) :)

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Warming Up
Having a slug of agua before he's gotta do his fifteen minutes.
Not yet ready...
The emcee asked "are you ready?" Bill said no... and started some deep breathing exercises. Rock and Roll!
Hiyas!
Billy coming up to the judges.
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Shaking hands
Bill was one of the few competitors I saw to do this - nice touch. Here's a tip... also remember the judge captain... even when you're putting out your water and such... not many gave the captains drinking water.
Chatting away
Billy telling the judges what drinks he would be building this day.
Intensity defined
Billy's in the zone.
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Setting up
Setting up the table for his drinks.
Continues...
Crowd watching
The crowd scoping out Billy's work.
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More crowd
I would have liked to see more of a crowd, but the competition was still early.
Water...
Water's very important. Another tip for competitors - as well as giving water to the judge captain (who doesn't get drink builds, but does taste them), make sure the water you serve is big enough. Tiny 3oz cups don't cut it.
Set up continued
Bill's setup is good, and he highlights his coffee. Also very good.
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The espresso
Billy serves up the espresso to the judges.
Steaming milk
If I remember correctly, Billy steamed only once in a huge pitcher, enough for all four cappuccino pours.
Cap setup
Billy decided to opt for a thermal press pot to hold the boiling water he'd use to heat his cups.
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Working, Judging
Billy works the machine as a sensory judge, Cindy Chang, checks out his shot pours for the cappuccinos.
Working the grinder
Billy works the grinder as a technical judge watches like a hawk.
Talking
Billy's flow of talking and working was very good in this round. He was on, big time.

Mark Pfaff

I've seen Mark compete in four different competitions, and I think he's won one or two of them, and placed high in all the others. He's an awesome west coast Baristi.

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Setting up
Mark, just as he starts his competition... his espresso cups are ready to go.
Blur
I can't recall seeing a performer move quicker in the competition :)
Developing
Mark watches his shots develop as a technical judge watches (hi Vince!)
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Espresso
Wiping clean a portafilter as his espresso shots are completed.
Tamping
Just my opinion, but I think Mark's Reg Barber is too short - it's the stubby model, and his hands are as big as mine are. I don't find that tamper comfortable.
Detail work
Detail work done on Mark's signature drink cups before the drink build.
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Water glasses
Mark's water glass setup. I'm not sure if he had a set for each drink round.
Intensity
Mark is also in the zone big time :)
But...
He has time to look at the camera and give a smile (this is after his round was over though :)).

Next up, I'll have a photo essay of the judges doing their thing in all the rounds.

Article rating: 8.2
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: May 5, 2004
feedback: (6) comments | read | write
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