Irish Barista Championships wrap up

As I said in my last blog post, I have spent the past 5 days either traveling to , being in or traveling back from Dublin Ireland for the Irish Barista Championships 2010.

I also said in the last post that I would have a run down post at some point about it all. I feel that the initial euphoria of the whole thing has worn off now, and I can objectively look at the whole thing. The past 10 months has been focused on this week. The work with Colin since Atlanta has been all consuming in so many ways.

But before I go into that I thought I’d first of all talk about the organisation, the steaming, venue and all that stuff.

This has been the second time I’ve been to an run event, the first being the team championships back in 2006 I think. Then I realised how different the peole that run it are to other chapters I’ve been to before. It seems there is a fun ethic through everything they do, they are some of the most warm and welcoming people I have met, nothing was too much trouble and I was made to feel so at home by every one. A special note to Julie and Jackie who brought me food and drink while tied to a computer 🙂

SCAE 2010

SCAE 2010

The venue I knew before as its the home of Colin’s shop. Not perfect, but not a trade show, in the city centre, and the audience room was full 95% of the time and the atmosphere was great. A lesson to all chapters that not holding the event at a trade show improves the audience viewing not the other way around.

I just wonder how crowded it may have been on a Saturday / Sunday event but we can not have everything.

The streaming was anew challenge to me, something I had not done (and showed). Thanks to Lawrence who did the UK streaming for the advice hints tips and load of a cable to record it. Also thanks for putting up with my frantic phone call Tuesday morning when I couldn’t get any sound.

IBC 2010

IBC 2010
It was a great excuse to be tied to se every performance, and I did. It was also great chatting with everyone in there (lots of has bean customers too). Without any publicity over 1000 unique visitors with a total of nearly 1800 view and nearly 20 hours of broadcasting I am quite proud that we bought streaming to this years IBC. The peaks in viewing were Colin and David Walsh’s performances, and of course the results were we broke the 100 viewers barrier.

OK so now to competition. So I watched all 23 competitors, saw every one of there performances. I think from the first round I picked (without tasting a drink) four of the top 6. But any one of the other 19 could have filled those two other spots. This is a testament to the judging that the performances of those who were exceptional went through (I’m guessing there drinks were good too). I think the level was good, I think there were almost two levels of barista competing. This is what happens I guess when you have no regional events, so as the finals to be the best from area.

Lots of great performances that were not from the expected three (I think everyone had a feeling who the top three would be) but a special mention to Julie McKenna from Clements who I thought was amazing, so full of energy and really bought some life to the competition. A special shout out to Ziad Abinakhoul who was unlucky not to make finals, a real gent who I am sure will do very well in the Coffee in Good Spirits this year.

OK so finals. Everyone who pilled into the stream will know that The top three were very very good. The standard amazing. My pal, friend and top man David Walsh was amazing, I could see the practice in his every move. David is a home barista turned competition man, a scientist by day and coffee guy by night. I respect David so much before this I have often called on his advice or help just to give me outside perspective and as the current Irish Tasting Champion was no stranger to working in front of a crowd, but you have never seen a hall or stream fill up as much as when he came on both times. I was waiting for the punch line with David as those who know him will understand we were expecting something left field. But David did a grown up performance of which any other year from what I understand would have won the IBC. Top top performance, polished and professional.

IBC 2010 David Walsh

Its the first time I’ve seen Victoria Fitz Henry perform, but I had heard much about her.e Finishing second last year to colin, many peopler who I spoke to were tipping her as the main competition to Colin. Her first round performance was very polished and very slick. Very well run through. Her finals performance wasn’t as smooth, and she got a little flustered half way through tat seemed to ruin the last part of her performance. Very close in points and it will be a what if, had she not had that stutter. But very very talented Barista and one I am sure will do well in the future.

IBC 2010 Victoria Fitz Henry

So to Colin. Regular readers will know how much of a friend Colin Harmon has become over the past 12 months. Its been hard work some times, its been fun most of it, but always work. Colin has worked so hard to get it all together for competition. I am full of praise and admiration for his dedication. Yvonne his long suffering partner has also been through so much for Colin to get to this point of another go at the world barista championships.

IBC 2010 Colin Harmon

So here we are 12 months later.

The World Barista championships this year will be amazing. I am blessed and lucky to be working with both the UK and the Irish Champion to help them win this thing. No divided loyalty’s, in fact were all working together sharing developing and expanding our knowledge together. John flew in to Dublin and was there washing glasses and getting Colin ready with the preparations. The team approach and working together are going to be the themes of the championship for me. Being in London makes it even better, on home soil with two great great people.

IBC 2010

But also I’ve decided to stop chasing on the back of the coat tails of Baristas. There are lots of things I need to do, and lots of things I want to do that are not barista lead.

So with this in mind, this too is my last time working with Baristas on competition. Too much time too much investment financially, emotionally and physically. If someone wants to just buy off the site or a wholesale customer use their blend all well and good, but nothing like I’m doing / done this year. If I can not help one of these amazing baristas win the world title with the talents they both have then its time to give it up. Something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Never say never but certainly how I feel at the moment.

So an emotional week, lots to take in and lots of work ahead over the next ten weeks. Best get back to blending ideas.

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  1. Quite a loss to future competitors, but fully understandable.

  2. Great write up Steve! I’ve loved following all the competition stuff and you’ve all done such a marvellous job and made it so interesting for all us observers. I hope you continue your involvement in some way as not only are the comps fascinating to follow but the coffees that come out are wonderful, John’s blend from the UKBC, was probably the best I’ve pulled in my short time as a home barista.
    Many thanks for all your effort, it’s very much appreciated!

  3. Well I’m sure I speak for many people when I say thank-you for what you’ve done for many baristas this year and in many other competitions (with one big one to come)! I was taken aback by the invitation to come to the roastery and develop my blend with you – having initially just asked permission to use the coffee off the site! The UKBC and Brasilia competitions I entered this/last year and the advice and generosity shown by so many during those events have demonstrated to me that speciality coffee is an industry filled with special people (!), and I am proud to be working my way to a long and hopefully successful career in an industry filled with such people. Many thanks for some great advice, a terrific blend (awesome capps!) and here’s to working with you on other projects soon!

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