If you’ve never seen a SCAA sanctioned barista competition they’re pretty intense. No there is no fire juggling or running obstacle courses just seriously high standards to meet. These competitions were designed to elevate the craft of the barista by focusing in on every aspect that affects the skill of the barista: consistent technique, coffee knowledge, cleanliness, customer service but most of all the final flavor of their drinks. Each barista serves four espressos, four cappuccinos and four specialty drinks to a panel of four sensory judges while two technical judges watch their every move.
Denny and I were planning on judging the Northwest Regional Barista Competition for a few weeks now and were incredibly excited to be able to experience some of the best baristas of the region show off their skill. We learned so much during the grueling all day judging calibration as well as judging alongside some of the most seasoned coffee professionals in the industry. I have to say the finalists for this competition were near perfection with espressos and cappuccinos that I think left an indelible impression on my taste buds.
So what I wasn’t planning on was competing in the Brewer’s Cup! This new competition focuses in on manual brewing methods like Chemex, French press, and pour over. I’ve been researching this topic pretty intensely for the last year, developing our first every Home Brew Guide at Victrola and trying to expose our customers to new and better ways to brew at home. So after a little encouragement from the Brewer’s Cup organizer Nick Cho, I decided to throw my hat in last minute on Friday and had one night to prepare a perfect brew. The first round we used a coffee provided by the competition and then for finals we could choose our own. Just making finals was good enough for me as the caliber of seasoned brewers present was pretty intimidating. For finals I chose to brew our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Koke with Hario v60 #1 size drippers. It’s sad this coffee will be leaving us soon, its sweet lemony acidity & pleasant black tea like bitterness landed me 2nd place! I used the same brewing method we use in our cafés with a few tweaks because of format and temperature issues.
What a great weekend! Have to give kudos to Devin Chapman of Coava Coffee, Portland Oregon for taking the Brewer’s Cup title. Coava Coffee pretty much swept the weekend as their other barista, Sam Purvis, also took 1st place for the Barista competition as well!
– Mark Pfaff, Head Trainer, Victrola Coffee Roasters