Wednesday, June 4, 2008

If life gives you lemons, enter a latte art competition

As many of you may or may not know, one of the next steps in my Finland plans was to go volunteer Nordic Cup, which was taking place in Helsinki this year. I was going to get to meet a bunch of Scandinavian coffee people (maybe even some potential employers.....) and it was going to be amazing.

Sadly, it was cancelled...

Needless to say, i'm pretty horribly bummed. However, there is a silver lining. Nordic Cup was going to be happening the same weekend as Coffee Fest Seattle, which is holding the next Millrock Latte Art Championships. Since i'm not going to Helsinki that weekend anymore, i get to go to Seattle and try to defend my title! I have no aspirations of actually winning again, but i'm sure as hell going to try. If i don't win, i hope Justin Tiesl (from Alterra and who got 2nd when i won) gets a victory this time, because i think he's come in second or third about 521 times. Well, at least enough to be 4th on the all-time money winners board.

In any case, i'm excited to go to Seattle. It'll be fun to see everyone, and nerd out for a weekend. Isn't that why we go to these things anyways?

Become one with your coffee


Is it wrong that i want one? Just for novelty sake, of course......

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Visiting coffee shops is fun

So I'm currently sitting in the very lovely Caffé Medici in Austin, Texas, and figured i'd do a little update for the ol' blog. I'm currently on a mini-vacation, which has been pretty awesome. My friend Nicole just got a car in Washington, DC, but lives in Austin. I offered to fly up to DC and help her drive it home. Of course, along the way i wanted to stop by a few coffee shops and visit some friends, and we did. We've gotten cappuccinos at every place we've gone, and it's been really fun to here Nicole's input, as she is not a coffee nerd like me.

When i first got to DC/Arlington we visited my friends Katie and Nick at murky and had lunch with them. Poor Nicole had to listen to us geek out for a while, but she claims she enjoyed it. She also enjoyed her cappuccino at murky, which the Cho crafted himself. She thinks it might have been her favorite of the trip.

After a day in DC, where we saw some sculptures of giant coffee beans, we got some sleep before we headed on the 1500 mile trip to Austin. In the morning, i was dying for some good coffee before we got too far along on our trip. Thankfully, Espresso Map had informed me that there was a good shop not far called Brew Mountain Coffee, at which we stopped. We were greeted by super nice barista, Chris, who was manning the bar. They've recently made a switch from Intelligentsia to 49th Parallel and he made us some killer cappuccinos (Nicole really enjoyed this one as well) with their Epic Espresso blend. Soon the connection was made that i had won Millrock, and i was propositioned to show my skills (which are questionable) to my new barista friend. I choked on my first one, making an excuse about pitcher size, and then did a halfway decent (but not super great) rosetta on my second try. I hope Chris still thinks i'm cool, because i didn't feel like was doing a good job of living up to my title. In any case, aside from marginally embarrassing myself, Brew Mountain and Chris get two huge thumbs up.

The next coffee experience was in Nashville, where we stayed the first night. I've been to a couple places in Nashville before, but we were eager to get on the road and didn't want to wander around for too long. We were just going to stop at Starbuck's, but saw a place called Portland Brew, and decided to go the "indie" route. It was fine, nothing painful or anything, but i thought it was really cool that Nicole could tell a big difference between our cappuccino's there, and the ones we'd had at murky and Brew Mountain.

We arrived in Austin last night, and this morning are currently enjoying excellent capps (thumbs up from Nicole again) at Caffé Medici, home of the first and second place baristas in the 2007 South Central Regional. We just talked with Patrick (South Central champion) and he said that they're in the process of opening a second location, which Nicole is excited about, as it is really close to where she lives.

So all in all, super great vacation. Heading home tomorrow to the ATL, where i must say, i'm ready to get back to work.