|Batdorf & Bronson Podcast: Barista Competition
Join Batdorf & Bronson Barista Competitors Chandler Rentz and Emily Jackson as they discuss:
Dates for the 2012 United States Barista Competition:
Yesterday, we had the chance to Coffee Ambush our good friends over at Adult Swim. Customers of ours for many years, and great supporters, there was much love for the coffee flowing. Dut Goodman from Dancing Goats Coffee Bar assisted me, brewing Chemexes, and Garrett Kuk took photos and video. It was so much stinking fun, and they have one of the coolest offices I’ve ever seen. Each desk was it’s own wonderland. Pretty stinking cool. Check out all the goodness on the official video blogpost: Coffee Ambush- Adult Swim!
||Our Training and Education team creates lasting relationships and adds value to your business. Crafting delicious coffee and excellent espresso requires training, practice, and patience. We offer wholesale customers a variety of courses to keep baristas focused on quality and efficiency. Courses are conducted at our Roasting and Training facilities in Olympia, WA and Atlanta, GA or we can arranging for training at your location.
Join Dan Graham, a wholesale trainer working in Olympia as he shares his philosophy of training and details topics including:
This video features most of our team, describing what makes them excited about coffee.
This week, Atlanta is being taken over by social media professionals from all over the region, and from some of the largest companies in the world. Batdorf & Bronson is proud to be a sponsor of this great event, and we’re doing several things to support the event. Our Atlanta Roastery is an Official Blogger Lounge during the event, providing a place where attendees can come and get a break, write about the event, and get free coffee and espresso while they’re here, as well as seeing coffee being roasted. We’re also hand brewing coffee for several of the venues, brewing our very delicious and popular Guatemala Finca El Valle, which is absolutely amazing right now. This morning, Chandler Rentz, Dut Goodman and I brewed coffee at Georgia Tech for one of the tracks.
For more information about Digital Atlanta, go to www.digitalatlanta.org, follow them on Twitter at @DigitalATL, and follow all the happenings with the hashtag #DigATL.
Last week, I had the priveledge of attending the 2nd annual Barista Guild of America retreat “Camp pull-a-shot”, at the beautiful El Capitan Canyon resort in Goleta,CA. The Camp is an intensive for barista guild members to advance their skill sets through classes and their credentials through certification exams. I signed up to be a station instructor for a few classes to excercise my training skills and a few classes to contribute towards my BGA level 2 certification.
I arrived at El Capitan on monday afternoon after a long ride on a quiet bus from Los Angeles. Everyone on the bus looked in dire need of coffee. I was assigned to bunk in a cabin with 3 other coffee professionals,a former united States Barista Champion and two other new baristas. I made my way up the mountain towards the main staging area for the classes ( which were all in yurts and tents). On my way I ran into a buck and a doe eating some of the wild grasses on the side of the path, a gopher and a family of rabbits. Upon arrival at the main staging area, I saw several of my Pacific Northwest barista friends along with fellow B&B employees, Jason Dominy and Chandler Rentz. The beer, donated by green bean importers Cafe Imports, flowed freely out of a modified espresso machine as the keg tap. After the brief beer interlude, we all headed for dinner and were formed into a group of twelve teams. I was on team 12 “the smackhammers”,with 11 other baristas with a varied amount of experience as coffee professionals. The night’s team excercise was a price is right/jeopardy game show tournament with each team having a turn at the podium to answers questions based on coffee knowledge.
Next morning began with the first teams stationed at the “cafe” tent. Each team competed with each other to get the highest rating from their secret shoppers. Each team was evaluated on their customer service skills, the quality of the coffee served and how well they worked together as a team. Each team worked seamlessly to complete drink orders. Some teams went above and beyond, sneaking out of camp to pick up pastries to offer to their customers.
My first class was as a station instructor for introduction to espresso. Initially, I was overwhelmed by the thought of having 11 people crowded around me and the espresso machine, and being an effective instructor in that setting. I eased into the training environment easily and was able to apply some of what B&B trys to instill in our students in our training courses. I was sick and dosed up on cold medicine, I’m sure that half of what i said sounded like jibberish. At the end of that session, i referred to Umami, the fifth flavor, as “the mystical unicorn of the flavor wheel”.
The second nights team tournament involved a relay race, each part of the relay was to fetch a necessary piece of equipment to brew a cup of coffee. I ended up having to eat a donut with my hands behind my back in order to retrieve the cups to brew our coffee into. My team finished 1st in time, but when it came to how our cup tasted, we scored the lowest. whoops.
The next morning, I started my day with being a station instructor for Introduction to Cupping, led by Trish Rothgeb, a Q-certified cupper who has been a roaster for 20 years.As a station instructor, I learnt alot under the tutelage of Trish and employing the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s standard cupping protocol.
I was also able to have the experience of explaining cupping protocol and how to use the correct vocabulary with a group of people who had a very varied amount of experience working with coffee.
Later on, after the morning session of cupping, I attended the BGA milk and latte art class, led by SouthCentral BGA representative, Lorenzo Perkins. The class was broken up into several stations, depending on the amount of experience that each barista had. I was at the “can consistently pour hearts and rosettas” station with Michael Fernandez, from EspressoParts NW and Rusty Angell from Bunn Brewing Co. It was a fantastic and humbling experience to have with other seasoned baristas.
The video is above.
This Coffee Ambush finds us at Coca-Cola here in Atlanta. Coca-Cola has several offices here in Atlanta, and the one I was at handles bottler relations, as well as some of their internet work. I brewed our Guatemala Finca El Valle in one of their breakrooms, as they all celebrated an interoffice competition achievement, and included free breakfast from Chic-Fil-A.
It was an amazing time, with SO many great folks asking SO many great questions about coffee, and how to better brew it at home. My friends know what a big fan I am of Coke, how April and I have a nice personal collection of bottles and cans, and it was a real honor to be able to brew coffee for many of their employees there. They didn’t waste much time asking me to come back, as I got a text message just a few hours later asking when I could. I can guarantee you it will be soon.
Special thanks to Christina Holland for setting it up, and to Joel Palmer from Dancing Goats Coffee Bar for helping me with photos and videos, as well as making sure I could brew back to back constantly for three hours.
Attention all coffee afficianados! We will be offering a “ask the brew-ista”, question and answer session at the downtown Olympia location Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters at 516 Capitol Way South. The Q&A session is every thursday from 3-6pm. If you are looking for guidance on buying new home brewing equipment, your brewing technique, or looking to try some different coffees, The brew-ista will be on hand to answer any question that you may have as well as demonstrate brewing techniques.
We will be expanding this service through the holiday season to provide you, our loyal customers, with the advice on what we know best: coffee.
Please keep tuned for home-brewing workshops and samplings of our seasonal offerings in the coming weeks.
So, I’ve had the idea in my head for a while to do a behind the bar lab for customers of our Dancing Goats shop, so they could see what a barista does to make espresso, what espresso is, and what it’s not, and just what a good barista does on a daily basis to pull that great shot of espresso. In my head, I’d do a Espresso 101 lab, mostly straight from the SCAA’s CP101 Intro to Espresso lab I know so well. After that, I’d invite the customers behind the bar to see how espresso is made, to see how the machine and the grinder, and to learn the importance of both and the barista’s understanding of both. I’d show them why the grinder needs to be adjusted from day to day, explaining the variances. I’d then pull three shots, one okay, one horrible, and one textbook. And I’d ask they try all three, and tell the difference.
And at the end, I’d allow time for each of them to jump up to the machine and pull a shot for themselves. Dosing, distributing, leveling, tamping, extracting, turning the pump off when the shot is done. And then, they were to try their shots. In my head, they’d gain a new knowledge of what espresso is and isn’t. They’d also learn what makes espresso and regular drip coffee different. And more importantly for me, they’d gain a new respect for both manual made espresso, and the baristas who work so hard day in and day out producing great espresso. They’d see all the work that goes into it, and knowing that not everyone can just get up there and make espresso. Baristas are craftsmen of a trade that has the potential to create something really special. They are mostly passionate people, drawn to the craft of the elusive perfect espresso shot, and the love of coffee. In my head, the customers that came would take away all these things.
And that, my friends, is precisely what happened. It was absolutely everything I wanted it to be and then some, and I can’t wait to do it again. Coffee knowledge for the win.
Today’s Sunday cupping featured Mike Strumpf and Jinnie Cho from the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Co. There is no denying that the process of decaffeination does involve a degree of stress to the bean, the goal is to make that process as gentle as possible to preserve the unique qualities of each coffee. That is what the folks at Swiss Water have sought to do and especially within the last five years they have made remarkable improvements to their proprietary decaffeination method. These people know their product well and they shared with us their knowledge about the role caffeine plays in coffee, about the history of decaffeinated coffees. They also explained some of the alternative methods used to decaffeinate coffee including, of course, the Swiss Water method. Finally we examined some of the myths associated with decaffeinated coffee and we tasted some very fine decaf coffees.
So why drink decaf? Is decaffeinated coffee necessarily healthier for you? Studies have shown that in moderation caffeine poses no significant risk to the average person. Some though may have sensitivities or a medical condition that requires an avoidance of caffeine. Or some, like myself, may simply prefer to drink decaf later in the day to avoid the stimulating side effects of regular coffee. It is for these reasons that people choose to drink decaf and thanks to companies like Swiss Water, we have access to some great decaffeinated coffees.
So how long have decaffeinated coffees been available? The first commercially successful process of decaffeination was developed in 1905 using a brine solution to steam the coffee and applying benzene as a solvent to remove the caffeine. Over time various methods were developed using different chemicals and processes. In the 1930s a company in Switzerland began developing a process of decaffeination using no chemicals only water. This became the method used by the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Co. operating in Burnaby, British Columbia. It is at this point that I will refer you to the Swiss Water DCC website for an explanation of their decaffeination process. They explain the process better than I ever could!
Finally, a few common misconceptions about decaf coffees that impressed me:
- “Decaf coffee tastes bad” This was perhaps due to the fact that poorer quality coffee was typically used for the decaffeination process. A dismissive attitude toward decaf being a factor. Now with better coffees being used, better decafs are available. Remember, the decaf coffee drinker would be just as concerned about flavor than the non-decaf drinker. This person is not after the “buzz” one usually gets from a regular “cup-a-joe”, but they still crave the flavor and aroma of a good cup of coffee.
- “You lose flavor along with the caffeine” Caffeine is a flavorless compound, so removing the caffeine should not alter the flavor of the coffee. Granted the caffeine removal process does affect the bean, if the operator is careful, the difference can be minimized.
- “You lose the health benefits associated with coffee” Not true, with only the caffeine removed from coffee, the beverage will still retain the antioxidants and disease preventive compounds inherent in the bean.
I was so grateful to the people at Swiss Water to come visit us. It is nice to know that we can enjoy great coffees that have been decaffeinated without the use of harsh chemicals and that still retain much of their original qualities.