My Heart is in Helsinki

Monday, June 15, 2009

World Latte Art Championships

So i was kind of waiting to broadcast this information too loudly, but now that it's official, i'm happy to say i'll be representing the US of A in the World Latte Art Championships at the end of this month. I'm very excited, but VERY terrified. Thankfully, two of the best dudes ever, Stephen Morrissey and Michael Phillips, are letting me come up to Chicago this weekend and do a bit of training. Morrissey's WLAC experience will be very invaluable to me as i've only read about the details of this competition a week or so ago. I have yet to do a ful run-through.

The WLAC is quite different from latte art competitions here in the States. There's taste involved and etching... it's nuts.

In any case, I just want to promise you all i will do my best not to embarass myself, Octane, or America.

But really this is all just an excuse for me to have a beer with Colin.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My (weak attempt at a) Guide to Atlanta for my coffee friends

So a few people have been asking me for "Guide to Atlanta" of some sorts for people attending the World Barista Championships in a couple weeks. One Atlanta's many flaws, however, is that it is a really spread out city and there's so many parts of the city i haven't even been to or restaurants my friends have told me about and i still haven't been to, and i've lived here a long time..... Lame.

So instead of a thorough guide, i'm just going to list some of my favorite places in Atlanta that i recommend visiting if people have the time. Note that this list is not complete in any way, and most of my friends would yell at me for things i've left out...

  • Octane Coffee ( - Okay, so this is an easy one. I work here, and i know my view may be slanted, but i think Octane is the best coffee shop in Atlanta... It'd be weird if i didn't think so, right?
  • Method ( - Method is a great coffee shop, and Danielle and I go here for our weekly meetings quite regularly. They're an Intelligentsia account, and do all Chemex. Great baristas and great friends of Octane.
  • Park Grounds ( - This is coffee shop/dog park located in my neighborhood. They've recently switched to Counter Culture and are really stepping up their quality. They don't do drip either, like Method, and instead do pour-over.
  • Dancing Goats ( - Batdorf and Bronson's flagship store here in Atlanta. Only coffee shop with a Clover in the city (at least that i'm aware of). They're not in the city though, they're over in Decatur, which is about 10-15 minutes from Downtown Atlanta.

  • Bone Garden ( - Bone Garden is a Mexican place, but a REALLY good one. Almost everything is A La Carte, and they've got a good tequila selection too. My girlfriend and i go there about 3 times a week on average. Sometimes more. They're pretty close to Octane, but are tucked away in a corner of a little industrial park. Worth the search though. Cool decor and super awesome staff and owners.
  • Taqueria del Sol ( - Another taco place, but a little more "Americanized". The Westside location is pretty close to Octane, and it's a very big local favorite.
  • Spoon ( - Again close to Octane. However, it is also the best Thai food in Atlanta. And i've been to most of the Thai places in Atlanta.
  • Chinese Buddha ( - Chinese Buddha is a 24 hour Chinese place and used to be super sketchy (while still be awesome), but they've moved to a way nicer location, still 24 hours (i think) and have the BEST vegetarian/vegan Chinese food you will probably ever have. You here me, Mike White? This place has your name all over it. Oh, and it also has great non-veggie Chinese food too.
  • Las Palmeras (they don't have a website) - I almost feel guilty for sharing this with the world... This Cuban restaurant is in a house. In a neighborhood. Like surrounded by residences. One of those cool well kept secrets. The Pollo Frito will blow your mind. And you should ask for extra onions.

Places to get drunk (also known as Bars)
  • Octane Coffee - Yeah, we actually have 10 great drafts that we rotate, and some wine and liquir too. And a REALLY awesome Espresso Martini. And Irish Coffee too. Jameson + Bailey's Irish Cream + French pressed coffee + little bit of steamed milk = awesomeness.
  • Brick Store Pub ( - National recognized in beer nerd magazine on a regular basis as an amazing place to get an awesome beer. Crazy selection, knowledgable bartenders, an Atlanta beer drinkers' favorite.

Sadly, that's the end of my list! The bars section would be bigger, but i never go out. And i don't want to send any of you to some of the sketchy places i go, hehe....

Feel free to ask questions in the comments and i'll do my best to answer them!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bleed Espresso

Yeah, pretty sick. Inspired by the new Ritual shirts.

Bleed Espresso
Originally uploaded by Curt B

Monday, February 16, 2009

Notes from barista coach (even though i've said i don't like the word coach)

To say that the past two weeks or even month or more has been exhausting is a perverse understatement. My body despises me. I'm aching all over. I haven't been able to get over this weird cold thing for a couple weeks. Pittsburgh was so dry, especially the hotel, one corner of my mouth has been chapped to the point of bleeding and won't heal. And i've been unable to go a whole night's sleep without waking up in the middle of it for a while now.

I know Josh, Danielle, and Crystal (and Tony, John, Diane, and most of the Octane crew who picked up some slack at the shop) have had similar experiences over the past few weeks as well. All for the love of coffee and the specialty coffee industry and a few moments of glory.

Needless to say, Octane is a happy little coffee shop right now. We had all three of our guys make the finals of the Southeast Regional Barista Competition, and then take 1st, 2nd, and 5th.

I'm trying to stay positive and relax a couple days, but USBC is right around the corner, which means more work is not far away. Not to mention that whole "doing my job" thing. In any case, this picture makes me happy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"I've only had 15 to 20 good espressos in my life.": The T-shirt

It all started with an article Mike White posted on Twitter. In this article, which is coverage from the WRBC, the article writer quotes one of the most loved baristas in coffee, Stephen Morrissey, as saying "I've only had 15 to 20 good espressos in my life."

Needless to say, this is a hilarious thing for a WBC Champion to say. Nothing wrong with it at all, i just found it really funny. I immediately posted this tweet, in which i jokingly plan to create a shirt with Stephen's face on it, and the funny quote.

It just so happened that it was a slow night at work, and i decided to play around with making a t-shirt design, just for fun. I "borrowed" a picture of Stephen from Tonx's Flickr (which i claimed was for a good cause, though he still encouraged me to use it for diabolical purposes) and created the above shirt design. Right as i was finishing it up, my co-worker and other half of "Team Coffee", Danielle, walked by and i explained the significance and that i was playing around, etc.

Well, seeing as Danielle's boyfriend runs a screen printing company, she said we should print a couple. And so we did. And there you have it.

Just so everyone's clear, we love Stephen and think he's super bad ass, but the stars just aligned in our favor. Wouldn't you have done the same thing?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Because i care

In one week i'll be on my way to Pittburgh with Tony to take the Judging Workshop for NERBC/MARBC. I'm super pumped. So pumped, in fact, i'm taking dramatic measures to make sure i do well....

I'm going to quit smoking.

Not sure if i'm doing technical or sensory judging yet, but in case i'm doing sensory, i want my pallatte to be as clean and untainted as possible. Starting to tomorrow, i will have no more cigarettes, at least until after SERBC, which is in 2 weeks. Hope i stay strong!

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm the first hit when searching "rosetta stone finnish"!

So about a year and a half ago, i made a post about how Rosetta Stone doesn't offer Finnish as one of their languages and how frustrating that is. A year and half later still no Finnish Rosetta Stone, but i've discovered i'm not alone in my search! Every once in a while i get comments on that post from my fellow Finnophiles expressing their frustration as well. My assumption has been that they've been searching Google for "rosetta stone finnish" or something and way down the list my blog has popped up. I decided to check and see how far down i was.... and it turns out i'm first!

Isn't that nifty? I think it's pretty cool, and also very sad... In any case, i'm playing on a few language sites still trying to keep up my Finnish education. I'm always up for new suggestions, too, so keep them coming!