A new day in Houston, TX brought with it sunny skies, a nice breeze and an overwhelming need for bananas. As the day winds down we’ve witnessed some of the best coffee this great country has to offer. Whether you came for the semifinals of the prestigious United States Barista Championships, the same round of the still-fresh Brewers Cup, the immense specialty coffee trade show or any of the other myriad educational, developmental or recreational goings-on at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual Event, attendees had no shortage of coffee geekery to amuse themselves with.
Front and center for The Event was the United States Barista Championship semifinals. The presentations this year were heavy on the close relationships that modern roasters are developing with the farms they support, and how those relationships benefit an industry in the midst of crisis. Never before has this industry looked to the coming years with more uncertainty, but also never before has this industry looked to our partners overseas and in distant lands and thought that maybe that distance wasn’t quite as ominous as it ONCE was. More and more we look towards the future and see not just our shops or our superstar baristi glowing in the halo of glory, but we now see that limelight shared with the farmers, processors and importers that provide us with those sweet, sweet beans that we’ve sworn our lives to.
Amongst the rumblings and hushed but urgent conversation buzzing about the convention space were spoken fears about rising C-Market prices, harsh global swings in supply and demand and the eventual stabilization of global coffee culture. Are these problems that we as an industry have the ability to change? What lasting impact will these crises have on the industry as a whole? Do current coffee prices and demand even leave room for Specialty Coffee. The answer to all these questions is, of course, a resounding “YES!”
The coffee industry on the whole has seen it’s share of cyclical ups and downs, but that unpredictability simply cannot stand any longer. With drastically increasing green coffee prices showing no signs of slowing their meteoric rise, retail coffee prices are reaching a critical psychological threshold in the eyes of the consumer that, once passed, demand a greater contribution on the part of all involved in the distribution chain. That means that growers must grow better coffee, and more of it. It means that roasters must delve deeper into the science and art of their craft to roast coffees that defy and exceed expectation. It means that the superstar baristi mentioned above must give their lives to their craft, not just pursuing that elusive perfect cup but achieving it, over and over again.
What’s so special about this years’ USBC is that more than ever, we as an industry are beginning to see these goals come into fruition. The competitors this year are showing more and more the value of supporting the supply chain to a fault. Local sourcing, fanatical and loving care for the final cup, an emphasis on hospitality and stewardship to the almighty brown bean are all hallmarks of this competition.
It’s an exciting time for our industry and all the billions around the world that rely on the beverage to add value to their lives. The bad news is that the future does hold uncertainty. The good news is that we, as an industry, are intrepidly gearing up to face down the greatest challenge we have ever faced. The consumer can rest assured that the next few years MUST produce the finest coffees the world has ever seen, or we shall simply cease to be relevant.
And by golly, we all know that can’t happen.
Dallis Bros Coffee is thrilled by the coming challenges we face, but we want to know what the consumers are thinking. Drop us a line and give us your thoughts. Leave a comment. Check out our Twitter and Flickr feeds. Most importantly, just get involved. Without the guy or gal on the other end of this whole thing drinking these coffees that we pour our hearts into, there wouldn’t be much of an industry to worry about, would there.
The competition is still in full swing, with a whole other day of finals rounds to look forward to, so keep tuned and let us know what you’re thinking.
See you out there!
In a little over a week, we’re thrilled to cheer our own Philip Search on to Houston, Texas, where he will compete as a semifinalist in the United States Barista Championship among the best of his profession. Philip took home regional title in this month’s Northeast Regional Barista Competition, and we couldn’t be prouder. We persuaded him to take a break from rigorous training and rehearsal to give the world a bigger preview of what he’ll be doing up there on the USBC stage.
What inspired you to compete in 2011?
I think there are multiple reasons I ended up competing. Every year I go through an internal debate with myself about whether or not I will do this all over again. The truth is though, I love coffee, I love being able to highlight it in this format. It excites me to be able to have unique conversations, and a chance to learn with other coffee professionals. I have to say though, I was truly inspired this competition. It started when I tasted the Liquid Ambar and the Don Mayo in a cupping. They both are compete coffees, unique in their own rights, and totally representative of the work of the families at origin, the cultivars, and the terroir of their regions.
The first time I roasted the Liquid Ambar as espresso, I pulled a shot and we were all floored. Pillowy body, a mind blowing espresso with a unique honey malt flavor I’ve only tasted a few times in 16 years. The Don Mayo was equally impressive. The spice note reminded us all of an Indian curry dessert. These coffees together create a unique combination of flavors that nearly brought me to tears. Completely unique to anything I had ever worked with before. After this, I was hooked. I wanted this coffee, and the risks the farmers took in producing it to be showcased to the world. There were other circumstances that came to light about the coffee. As you know there is a shortage of super high quality coffees in the current market. The coffee from the Don Mayo mill is part of what I believe is a solution to this issue. It is a Villa Sarchi Cultivar, a natural mutation of old Bourbon plants that happened in Costa Rica quite a few years ago. In showing off this coffee as a microlot separated out with its unique cultivar, I hope to encourage farms to begin producing more of this coffee in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica where the climate and soil lend its self to its best potential.
I also enjoy being able to push our industry forward in unique ways. In the past this involved adding special dose control to things like the Anfim grinder. In this case, I wanted to show people a grinder platform that doesn’t have most of the existing flaws of current espresso grinders, and that there is a different way to pull shots even in a tight time frame. I also believe that in life, and all things coffee, we should aspire to our daily tools being functional works of art. This grinder reflects that aesthetic belief.
You use an unusual grinder setup. What is it?
I wanted a grinder that looks good, and avoids a lot of the dosing, heat, and grind spectrum issues of existing espresso grinders.
What goes into your signature drink, and how did you come up with it?
The sig drink is an infusion that mirrors the flavors of the two coffees I used. This allowed me to stretch out the flavor profile and make the complexities of the coffee more accessible. It involves using nitrogen cavitation, a common tool in the arsenal of cutting-edge mixology, to infuse flavors into liquids. I used a slice of orange, grapefruit peel, tamarind, smoked sea salt, sucrinate (dried unprocessed cane juice), raw orange blossom honey, and lapsong souchong tea, and infused this into water. Then I poured this “deconstructed flavor infusion” into champagne flutes and served it alongside the espresso. This helps people better understand the coffee. The cool thing is that, along with each ingredient as a flavor, there is a chemical reason I used them as well, each represent an acid or other chemical piece of the flavor that is in the coffee as espresso. For example, the Don Mayo had a unique tropical flavor from tartaric acid, this was then achieved in the deconstruction using the tamarind.
Do you find it easy to explain “nitrogen cavitation” to people at parties?
Sure! But I can be a bit of a nerd. Nitrogen bubbles are small, and when put with ingredients under pressure, they attach themselves to cell walls and weaken the cells, when you rapidly release this pressure, the cells burst and you have and instant infusion. Pretty simple really.
Who else are you watching closely in this year’s United States Barista Championship in Houston, TX?
Well, really there are always a lot of great coffee people, and it can be any ones game, But Pete Licata, from Honolulu Coffee, is another long term veteran with a lot of experience. He is solid, and his coffee has a great story.
What are you doing to refine and perfect your routine before you compete in Texas?
Practice, and trying to master the skills of being a coffee whisperer, also trying to get as much time in talking to people about the coffees as possible. This is key for me, because my routine, and everything I do is based more on being a practicing coffee professional than in just a routine for the great game that Barista Competitions are. I desire to be a coffee ambassador, both to the professional community at large, and to customers. That is my passion, and what I live for.
Follow Philip at the USBC on the road to the World Barista Championship this June in Bogota! And follow him personally on Twitter at @phineas984.
Congratulations to Philip Search and the Dallis Bros. Coffee team for the victory in the NERBC 2011! See you all at the USBC nationals in Houston, Texas!
The presentations that gave Philip Search from Dallis Bros. Coffee the 1st place in the NERBC 2011.
North East Regional Barista Championship (NERBC) 2011
Kate, pastry chef from Berkli Parc, tells Dan Mueller the story behind the Oreo cookie, what it has to do with the Chelsea Market, and her take on it.
He version of that cookie is delicious, as I could attest myself during the NERBC 2011 event (hmmm… I had three of them 😉 ) and also having a bite at their shop in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Stop by their place for a cookie and a cup of Dallis Bros. Coffee!
63 Delancey St (between Eldridge St & Allen St)
New York, NY 10002
P.S.: Here’s what Mike D has to say about those cookies. ‘Nuff said!
Another one from the “And you thought it all started in Seattle!” series.
During the North East Regional Barista Championship (NERBC) 2011, guest speaker Donald Schoenholt from Gillies Coffee gave a long and inspired speech on the history of coffee in New York City – and North America in many ways.
Too bad we couldn’t film the entire presentation, but about 90% of it is here in a 5-part video:
In PART 1 we saw the beginnings of the GREATEST latte art throwdown ever! You saw it was packed. You saw even Jesus Christ showed up to pour.
One judge noted certain baristi smelled bad. Well, that was a throwdown, not the Miss Universe. Body odors were NOT being evaluated. Let’s review the judging criteria:
– Color Contrast (highest degree of crema-foam contrast)
– Symmetry (design evenly weighted down a central axis)
– Use of Cup (design fills the cup and leaves little negative space)
– Overall Impression (complexity of design and overall artistic expression)
And we start PART 2 with judge and celebrity Kelly Choi and our MC Mike D:
Two and a half hours into the throwdown and the place was booming as never before.
We started with 48 competitors and were now down to two finalists. Danielle Glasky and Jeff Wenzel.
The format for the final was a BEST OF 3. As usual, the WHEEL of DESTINY would choose the types of design for each round. And the winner would get…. a trip to BRAZIL!
Things were even in the first two designs, with one victory for Jeff, one for Danielle. The WHEEL OF DESTINY then chose a… HEART for the last and deciding pour.
How ironic. The fate of the GREATEST latte art throwdown ever would be decided by the heart, the first design a barista learns to pour in latte art. A design considered easy by most baristi. But was it?
And the winner is…
Danielle Glasky from Cafe Grumpy!!!
The winners were as follow:
1st place – Danielle Glasky – Cafe Grumpy – won a trip to Brazil!!! Courtesy of Dallis Bros. Coffee.
2nd place – Jeff Wenzel – Joe The Art of Coffee – won a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine!
3rd place – Farah Khawaja – Joe The Art of Coffee – won a Baratza Virtuoso Preciso grinder!
4th place – Phoebe Aceto – GimmeCoffee! – won single serve goodies, courtesy of Cafe Grumpy!
Congratulations to all!
P.S. 1: Farah picking up her Virtuoso grinder on Sunday after the party:
P.S. 2: A day later Dan Mueller got a chance to interview Danielle Glasky on her way to work:
Last Saturday, April 9th, New York City was home to the greatest latte art challenge of all time!
Hosted by Joe The Art of Coffee, Cafe Grumpy, Dallis Bros. Coffee, GimmeCoffee!, and Third Rail Coffee, the NERBC afterparty throwdown took place at the Highline Loft, 508 West 26th Street, in the heart of NYC.
As soon as NERBC finalists were announced, competitors flew off the NERBC site in the afternoon to help set everything up for the throwdown.
Rules were strict. It was not we who decide the barista’s fate, but the sinister WHEEL OF DESTINY!
With each spin, the wheel would decide the type of pour the competitors would have to make.
The judging panel was formed by no one less than Silvia Magalhães, 3-times Brazilian Barista Champion; Kelly Choi, creator and producer of the show Eat Out NY; and Dave Arnold, head of the Culinary Technology department at the French Culinary Institute. And our MC could not be anyone else but Mike D.
Those who poured with patience, precision and polish would advance through the ranks towards their ultimate fate: a glorious adventure to the origins of some of the worlds greatest beans: BRAZIL!!!
Without further delay, the photos.
The event started packed as competitors lined up for a chance to go to Brazil.
Shortly after 8pm, the baristi took their turns to steam milk on the beautiful La Marzocco Strada…
And pour gorgeous designs for the appreciation of the judges.
Those who couldn’t cut it walked home in shame.
We got photographic pour that even Jesus Christ attended the throwdown as you can see below.
Sorry Dave, you kicked ass earlier at the Dallis Bros. 5th Bar Cafe, but you can’t mess with Jesus – in this case, Jeff Wenzel from Joe The Art of Coffee.
Danielle Glasky from Cafe Grumpy did not have any idea what the night had reserved for her. Dan Griffin wouldn’t give it up easy.
And that was a close call, both awesome pours.
Judges were flabbergasted as they had to make a decision and eliminate one more competitor.
And Farah Khawaja from Joe The Art of Coffee was discretely making her way into the top three.
One more pour for PART 1…
Stay tuned for PART 2… Who won the trip to Brazil??? You’ll find out… very soon!!!
Oliver Strand has been championing the surge in specialty coffee here in NYC for quite some time. His prose has been touting the skills of local coffee roasters, shops, baristas, and cafe culture. It’s appropriate and significant that he too gets a chance to basque in the glow of everything that transpired this past weekend at the NERBC.
For the first time in history the Northeast Barista Championship was held here in New York City, and right in the heart of Manhattan across from Chelea Market (home to the Food Network). All three top finalists were working with coffees roasted right here in the 5 boroughs, and all six baristas in the final round work for companies here in New York City.
The role that the press plays in sharing the coffee community’s message with the public cannot be overstated. Peter Meehan’s work with the Times was critical to helping the quality driven shops in New York reach an audience previously unaware of the quality revolution. Oliver Strand has continued in this tradition, and his latest post to the New York Times blogmust make him feel great. Thanks to all those out there that helped to make it all possible!