Welcome to the final installment of Sprudge.com’s daily coverage at the 2014 Big Central Regional Barista Competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just four competitors were in play on Day Three, and yet Sunday was home to some of Big Central’s most impressive runs. Three of the four baristas you see below are now eligible for the 2014 United States Barista Championship – see the full list of qualifiers here.
Sprudge.com’s coverage of Big Central was made possible by direct support from the event’s hosts, Cafe Imports, Wilbur Curtis Co., and from the event’s official espresso machine sponsor, Nuova Simonelli. We are proud to serve throughout the 2014 season as media partners of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, whose courtesy and professionalism were on open display throughout this wildly successful and memorable weekend of competition.
An appropriately rhetorical start to one of the weekend’s most intellectual routines: “What is it to know a coffee? To really know everything a coffee can be?” – Josh Taves, Dogwood Coffee Company.
Mr. Taves competes using
@dogwoodcoffee‘s Panama Don Pepe. This coffee from Dogwood was grown in Boquete, in volcanic western Panama, and cultivated by producer Jesus Antonio Vasquez. It’s a 100% typica lot.
Mr. Taves’ capps: 37 grams espresso weight, with notes of “toasted hazelnut, toffee sweetness, big buttery body, and a cocoa finish.”
There’s an interactive element to his espresso service, as Mr. Taves asks the judges to vote together for the kind of espresso they’d like to enjoy, selecting from 2 options. They opt for an espresso experience that yields “a lime intense acidity, dry white wine, juicy raisin sweetness, cocoa finish.”
There’s a lot to tell about this routine – a malfunctioning timer, a microwave, clever drippers, different particle sizes in the same portafilter for his sig drink, using compressed air to “wipe” down his station, and Mr. Taves addressing each judge by name. A brainy, fascinating, competitive 15 minutes.
“Why is coffee so expensive? It’s an agricultural product that takes the dedication of an international community.” – David Fasman, Kaldi’s Coffee.
One of our favorite quotes of the weekend, on the international coffee sourcing chain- “It’s like a massive game of telephone.”
Capp notes: “caramel apple and cocoa powder…think of Apple Jacks” – Mr. Fasman working efficiently through his notes, maintaining a steady and controlled dialogue with his judges, multitasking all the while.
Sig drink: orange juice, muddled dried cherry juice, maple simple syrup, espresso, shaken with ice.
In the heat of the Twitter moment, we called this routine efficient, thought-provoking, professional and accessible, and those notes stand up on further review.
“Being a barista, and having a wife and two kids, well, it doesn’t always pay the bills.” – Real talk from Patrick Burns, the owner/operator of Palace Coffee in tiny Canyon, Texas (just 13,000 folks or so).
Mr. Burns competes w/ coffee from Santa Marta, Costa Rica, roasted by
@evocationcoffee in nearby Amarillo, Texas. You can learn more about this coffee and take some home for yourself right here at this click point.
A couple of different roast profiles being served by Mr. Burns of
@PalaceCoffee – this is a trend we’ve seen throughout Big Central.
Mr. Burns’ sig drink is a take on your classic whiskey Old Fashioned, but with a bit of a twist. There’s an “ice sphere” made of cold brew, gum arabic, soda water, and a kind of “ginger spritz” made live on stage. In a competition of successful cocktail-style sig drinks, his may have been the most classic.
Capps: “a hint of cherry, tinge of acidity, sweetness from the milk…like cornflake milk.”
Here now, a wild one of a sig drink, starting with phosphoric acid and cherry wood steeped in water, then strained through a paper Hario v60 filter. Mr. Gruehn then added cane syrup, cherry concentrate, and almond extract, before carbonating the whole lot of it on stage with a Co2 charge. The end result was billed to the judges a “like a cherry soda with espresso.” Holler.
Photos by Charlie Burt for Sprudge.com. Follow @SprudgeLive for Twitter play-by-play from all the US Barista Competition events leading up to the World Barista Championship 2014 in Rimini, Italy.