The rush is many things. An immutable force. An immovable object. An existential crisis of conscious weighing upon each and every one of us in our own way. But there’s one thing we know for sure: the rush MUST be crushed!
As part of our ongoing coverage of the 2019 Crush The Rush 2: Straight Into Summer event series in partnership with La Marzocco USA, we sat down with LM USA’s very own Josh Littlefield, master of ceremonies for the competition and an event co-founder. Josh dished to us on his hottest tips and tricks to help winning teams—and also who would figure into the sculpture work at his own personal Mount Crushmore.
This interview has been lightly edited.
Hey Josh Littlefield! Thanks for chatting with Sprudge. What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to a team of baristas looking to win Crush The Rush?
Matching outfits! No—I think for everybody the #1 most important thing is communciation. Practice messing up a drink and what your gameplan will be to recover: how will we make it over? who will be in charge? Talk all these things through in advance, that’s a big key to success.
You’re now in your second year MC’ing this competition. Who have been some of the fastest teams out there?
In Los Angeles last year the Augie’s Coffee team just kind of cruised above everybody. The Counter Culture team in Atlanta was also super fast. And this season in Seattle, you know, that Watson’s Counter team really stood out. Did you know they had never worked a shift together before that event?
Wow! No we did not. In your opinion, are team costumes as important as team names?
Whatever gets the most laughs at the time of announcement is the most important.
Do you have any more general tips for folks competing?
Steam large portions of milk, and don’t stop making shots. A lot of times we see teams get to their last drink and it ends up being a remake, so they have to open the grinder again, and make more shots, and it’s like, here we go...
I think those are the key big ones. And stay clean yo, please. Don’t make a mess.
Is it better to pour table side by the judges or at the barista station?
It seems that teams pouring tableside are consistently faster.
Because they can run with their drinks rather than walk fast. A lot of people get spillage on the walk up, and then have to take a few seconds to wipe up and they aren’t always succesful. Compare that to if you’re at the table it’s more like—pour, drop, done.
Let’s talk about side work. What’s the best way to stamp a sleeve of cups?
I think it’s pretty clear who has worked in a cafe and has had to stamp cups before. There is a certain technique of spinning the cup on your wrist and also spinning the stamp in an opposite direction, which gives you a seemless stamp. It’s realy beautiful to watch actually. I want to get some slow-mo video of it at the next event for whoever would be intersted in it.
What’s the best way to sift through spent grounds?
Gloves off, smelling like dirty coffee for the next three days is the way to go. Teams lost a lot time so far this year putting gloves on vs. diving right in, working your way north to south andtrying to get to every little crevise.
During the drink giveaway portion of the event, what’s the best way to get the attention of some distracted person whose cappuccino is literally dying on the bar?
I guess…emphasizing the fact that it is free, and it is for you. Give the fakest smile you have ever done.
Who would be *your* ideal team if you were competing at Crush The Rush? You can pick anyone dead or alive, barisat or non.
Katie Carguilo, David Schomer, and whoever won last year’s Chicago Marathon.
What city crushes the most rush?
Last year it was Los Angeles, for sure. The way it happened you could tell, it was the hottest day of the year—110 degrees in an outdoor venue—and the vibe inside the competition was like being in Dodger Stadium. Everyone was screaming and having the time of their lives. They brought the fun, and they were fast.
After you’re finished crushing the rush this summer, what’ll you crush next?
If you were to carve a mountainside, who’d be the four faces on Mount Crushmore?
This year is on the KB 90 so definitely Kent Bakke of La Marzocco. George Howell would be number two. Maria Cleveland of Urnex paid for the coffee cold brew dunk tank last year, so she gets a spot. And then last, I would include Bucky the Beaver from the Texas gas station chain.
Naturally. Thank you Josh.
Sprudge Media Network is the official media partner of Crush The Rush. Read more Crush The Rush coverage right here on Sprudge Live.
Upcoming Crush The Rush dates:
July 26th – San Francisco, California
August 9th – New York
August 23rd – Chicago
September 6 – Nashville