Atlanta Wrap up! (long post)

Ok I’ve been back a few days but a mixture of jet lag, staffing problems and general overwork, means that I haven’t posted an Atlanta wrap up. To say that I landed at 11 am and was standing at the roaster before midday would be very true, this is the pain I go through for you my coffee loving friends :)

So to recap Saturday (it hadn’t sunk in when I posted) that top six if I could bottle it and sell it, it would be more powerful than any drug. It was an amazing feeling, so proud of the work Colin did up there. I don’t say this for any response, but he did all the hard work. I just did what I do every day for the past seven years of my life. I turned so beans brown.

He held his nerve to produce the perfect performance for me. I haven’t seen Saturdays score sheet, but Colin did every thing (and even added a little humor) team ireland had planned for him to do. The shots looked so tasty (and its right what colin says about you know when its going to be good by looking) and I know the caps would have been awesome (this coffee produces the best caps I’ve ever tasted.)

I think Colin had a major advantage that he knew that machine so well. The milk was perfect the shots so good this comes with being comfortable with your tools. Buying the machine was a smart move, and it makes me realize I need to buy competition machines to understand them better but understand my coffee better.

This time I was lucky that the feedback from Colin and David (more love for David later) using the coffee on the machine was imperative to developing the profile and finally deciding to go with the Bolivian.

I so didn’t want to go to competition and let the coffee down. I can take the hit on the chin (and I’m sure the same of Colin), but I love this coffee so much that I wanted it to be done justice on that machine, and let everyone know how special a coffee and farm this is. Friday and Saturday Colin showed me how good he is and how pleased I would be for the judges to access it. I can tell you on Saturday I was 100% confident until the forth competitor was read out for top six that Colin had made it with his skill and that coffee. When forth came up and I thought of the talent that were not there it was going to be close

The great news was the rate of the producing countries progress. Guatemala in 7th place (so close) to a top six, and so many so close in the top 10. I think with the offer of an origin trip for some of the best baristas in the world they have an advantage that they will continue to make full use of that.

The WBC bar was one of the highlights too, great to be able to grab a coffee (shame about some of it,Transcend was a beacon) pulled by some of the greatest baristas in the land.

If I take on memory from the weekend was how much Colin and David made me laugh. Take a look at the video and thats how I was all weekend. giggle a minute. I’ve made two new special friends and it was a blast. I also met Colin’s family who were so friendly and kind, again a heap of friends in particular Ian, we both entertained (entertain is a loose description) people at Octane on Sunday evening with our “rude” football chants, very special

But before that there was a coffee making competition where the final six scores were

Gwilym Davies, United Kingdom, 623

Sammy Piccolo, Canada, 619.5

Michael Phillips, United States, 618.5

Colin Harmon, Ireland, 572

Lee Jong Hoon, Korea, 542

Attila Molnar, Hungary, 535.5

TOP FOUR can you believe it. Someone came up to me at the end and said

“what has intelligentsia coffee, 49th Parallel roasters, Square mile coffee roasters and Has Bean Coffee Got in common.”

For a moment I paused and then I realized we were the top four. Our little roastery in Stafford rubbing shoulders with some of the greats. Who would have thought six years ago in my garage at home that we would be here.

Its not the first time we have been in the top six but its a place up from our previous inclusion (fifth place in Bern in 2006) so its moving in the right direction.

I think the best thing to come from this competition is that I’ve feel in love with Espresso again. I can not wait to pull shots after 1 year of being into brewed coffee. Not that I don’t want brewed (that will never happen) but I want to improve my technique for espresso.

Now a moment for David Walsh from theotherblackstuff.ie fame. David was without doubt the real reason for the top six finish. Colin did put in the hours and preparation without doubt, but by his side was David every step of the way. David is an amazingly clever man. So clever that he isn’t involved in the coffee industry(yes very clever) and is involved as a home user thats very enthusiastic. But he backs up this enthusiasm, with a depth of knowledge that makes me blush at how little I know. Legend, a top man and I hope a true friend, one of the long term highlights of the weekend. I am going to work hard to keep that friendship going thats for sure.

Shout out to Ben at Octane who was a legend the whole weekend and the thing I will most about Atlanta. You want to come to the UK any time Ben my door is open even as an Arsenal Supporter.

And Colin, well I cam with few expectations of my involvement. I expected to be sitting in the crowd, blogging and twittering and being a bit of a spare part. Colin got me involved from the start made me feel important and part of the team. He was such a legend and I have to thank him for one of the finest weekends of my life. I was so proud of what he did and how he represented the coffee for Mario and Maria.

Three good friends having a fun weekend in a foreign country, stuff I should have dine when I was in my teens instead I do it with grace and with a certain poise. Actually you wouldn’t have thought it on Saturday when that result came in.

So a great weekend, great time and great competition. One thing that amazes me is that barista competition always find the right winner no mater how it gets there. Gwilym will be a great champ and will scare the hell out the WBC with his direction and what he wants to do when he wants to. But thats a good thing. Two UK roasters in the top forum UK Champion 4th Place Irish competitor, its a lot better that when I first joined the industry seven years ago, uk coffee scene isn’t recognizable. I hope in a very small way thats down to people like me and James and Anette and Peter James and alike.

But without Baristas like Gwilym and Colin thats so much harder. This has taken the whole evening to write and has been edited so many time its time to post, but the closing words are GREAT WEEKEND for coffee.

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What you have been saying

  1. Marcy says:

    Great read :D Thanks again, Steve :)

  2. David Walsh says:

    It was great fun alright. Full of laughter and really god-awful food. In fairness to you Steve, I think you took the brunt of it. Crab cakes / tuna salad with no tuna / strange chicken things etc.
    But you do yourself a disservice by saying you only turn beans brown. You turn very good beans very nicely brown.

  3. Damon F says:

    I agree – you are too modest Steve. Your beans ROCK!!!!

  4. admin says:

    Crab cakes hmmm tuna salad with out the tune, it was not so good :)

    thank you Guys you rock :)

  5. Gary says:

    Great weekend indeed. Look out London!

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