Einträge zum Thema Competition

Samstag, 4. Juli 2009

What a year.

So far, this year has proven incredibly exciting and challenging. And different. You didn't hear from me due several reasons - I like to say the most important are my current workload of two jobs plus a little freelancing plus studying and living in the new house with this incredibly big garden that needs so much attention. But that's only part of the truth.

When my workload started to rise late last year, I realized that in order to pursue my coffee related activities, I'd need way more money than I'd possibly possess before I receive my diploma and way more time than I'd possibly have spare before I receive my diploma. So I began to pull my head out of coffee-related activities, especially the ones my conscience reminded me that what I wanted was quality and education, not smiling faces and oh-ahs for a little latte-art with a rubb(er)ish coffee base. With that pull-out, the constant challenge of my own tastes diminished a little, and the perception of what I consumed slowly faded.

I stopped participating in coffee forums, stopped blogging about it, and after a very teaching experience at the last cuptasting competition in February I even stopped worrying about competitions in general (I do worry about the state of specialty coffee in germany, but that's a whole different story. The very ambitiuos and knowledgeable three guys over at Radical Coffee are trying hard to change that though and I sincerly hope they succeed with their approach and get the response that they deserve in the professional barista and coffee scene).

It took all but a single cup of brewed coffee to change that for a moment. Here I am, browsing coffee blogs again when I actually should get some work done, catching up on what I missed the past half-year or so, enjoying every single sip of that cup like I haven't done in quite some time (it's a Nicaraguan, Limoncillio from hasbean.co.uk by the way) and realize that I still have it in me. The passion is still there, and so are my plans for the future. When time and money permit, I'll be back. In the meantime, I'll be a systems administrator and programmer and student and drink the occasional exceptional cup of coffee. Perhaps I might even get to fix my espresso machine though that's unlikely for the near future.

That's all for today. And might be so for the next few months or even a year or two on this blog. But watch this space. Apologies for all that expected me at different venues the last year or just didn't hear a word from me.

Freitag, 5. September 2008

Judging for the 2. Hannoversche Barista Battle

Edzard did it again: he organized what could be summarized as a barista jam, latte art throwdown and preparation for competition event. Together with the good people, the vegetarian food, a coffee cart outside and too much alcohol in the evening - what a nice day!

Quite a shame that I only get around writing about it half a year after the actual event took place. But better late than never, and since I get a surprising amount of friendly nags from people who actually read what I write I feel the urge to at least finish this post that sat in the pipeline for three months!

So, back to the event: The second (now hopefully annual) Hannovesche Barista Battle, taken place on August 31st at Edzards DerMuffinMann, Rehbockstr. 2 in Hannover. As I was fully aware that I'd not be as good as last year, and at the same time the others would've become better and better, I tried being smart for a change: to get on the judges panel instead of competing and making myself look like a complete idiot! Luckily, Edzard agreed, and I got to do my very first (though not 'SCAE official') judging. A very strange and good feeling: not being the one to be judged is a real relief. Takes the pressure off it. But at the same time arises responsibility: you want to be fair. To everyone. That cappu, is that 7 or 8 out of 10 points? And how to justify that decision if not by gut feeling? If the last was 7 then is this one 5 or 6? Not so easy as it turned out!

Judging also showed me that I often had a different opinion than the others, which initially confused me quite a lot. But since I could communicate my point more often than not, that confusion went away and I quickly grew more confident in my own tasting and judging. That was quite a day! Unfortunatly, I didn't take any camera with me and so far didn't catch any pics online. I'm sure the pictures captured the feeling from that day very well, and if they pop up I'll link them here. Edzard even promised some videos, let's see how that one turnes out!

Really look forward to the next episode of the Barista Battle, and I try to write about it rather sooner than about this one, but I don't make any promise here as the next year is already planned to be a dense one!

All the best, merry christmas and a happy new year to my few lovely readers!

Freitag, 13. Juni 2008

Life update

A short list of coffee-things I've been up to lately:

Montag, 18. Februar 2008


During the cuptasting competition, I started to have doubts about my passion for coffee. There was the table, eight sets of three coffees, sixteen different coffees, and I started slurping away. I did the same mistake as nearly everybody else did: I trusted my first impression on the first set of three - and pushed the wrong cup away. Everybody did that. Next time I won't!

But the further I got along the sets, I kept thinking to myself 'Well, this is a very nice boring coffee. A little bit of fruit in there maybe ...' and 'that's another boring coffee, ah, a bit more body' and 'oh yes, boring again, a little more spicey than the others'. On that whole table of sixteen different coffees, most of them were just plain boring with only slight differences in the cup profile (ok, I guess that's quite the point of such a competition, but nevertheless ...). There was a Kenyan which I thought spiced the table up a bit, but it was not very distinct.

And near the end of the table, I had one cup that blew my mind. I immediatly thought Hell Yes, that's one of the coffees and one of the reasons I do all that for. One of the reasons for me messing with coffee the last couple of years. It had more taste sensations than all the other coffees on the table together (at least it felt like that in contrast to the others). Very sweet, very very rich in flavour and aroma, a nice background chocolate, utterly intense, though smooth and very complete. Every sip I took was satisfying. I'd love to taste this one in an espresso.

After the competition (did I already mention that I placed eight, with guessing six of the eight sets correct? Yes? Oh, I'll mention it again anyway ;)), they lined up the thermos flasks for collective coffee drinking pleasure, and it was pretty obvious which coffee was it that blew my mind: the flask was labled 'Best of Brazil', and I enjoyed it until after the fair all the way back to my little brother, who very kindly lend us a pillow while we were there.

Why oh why don't we have more of coffees like that here in germany?

Or better: where oh where do I find more coffees like that in germany? For the time being, I'll order from Walter, because that's the kind of coffee he has.

Freitag, 15. Februar 2008

German Competitions 2008

The championships are over, and I've had a little bit of time to face reality again (though sleeping in my own bed only for one night in over a week doesn't help there). Bad news first: I placed 14th. Which is not too bad considering the amount of training I've done.

The good news next: I placed 8th. Of 18. In the cuptasting competition. I'm pretty proud of that. Not familiar with this type of competition? It's actually quite simple: you're given eight sets of three cups, of which two contain the same coffee and the third a different one. You're given a cupping spoon (thanks IAC, the spoons were great!). Spot the odd and push the cup away. If you're lucky it has a red dot beneath. This year, I spotted 6 of the 8 sets right - the winner spotted 7, so I'm quite in the ballpark I believe! At the competition in 2006, I only did 3 cups right, though you can't really compare the numbers because the coffee of course is quite different through the years, this looks like quite an improvement to me.

Barista competition.

Jule is always blazingly fast Jule Runge of the Coffee Store in Bielefeld placed second (and first in the latteart competition!), and Thomas Schiessl of freelance-barista.com won the competition. Congratulations for both and all the best for Copenhagen!

Walter of kaffeespezialitaet.at roasted the coffee for me, and he and I both put quite some work into finding the right coffees. He listened to my suggestions about how I'd like the roast to be (a little bit on the light side), and he took a great effort to get this coffee to me in time. My blend was two thirds of Costa Rica coop. Libano CoE and one third of Dominican Republic Montaña Verde, roasted just into the first pops of second crack, rested about a week - it had a very appealing fruity acidity kick to a balanced smooth round body type with some edges and odds in the cup but very satisfying (if pulled right), or just in-your-face acidity (if pulled wrong). Walter told me it's a risk, and in retrospective I believe he was right. Not quite the italian taste of espresso that this years jury seemed to have been so fond of. I do like this blend this way, because I think when taking it a little darker it really loses what makes it shine, it gets a little rounder but also quite a bit more boring for me.

The other coffee I used for my signature drink was a Yemen Matari Mokha, a blend of two roast degrees: ca. 75% taken into second crack and 25% taken into rolling second. I wrote about this coffee before and it's stunning, different from everything else alas somehow a real archetype of a coffee. It's earthy, spicey, heavy, thick, and has very cool notes of wood and toasted wood that I really can't describe any better (Jan tastes blueberrys in there. I whish I had his tastebuds!). The second part of my signature 'drink' was a bit of chocolate - a Domori Puertomar, which is a single-estate single-varietal chocolate from Venezuela (if I read the description right - I don't know nothing when it's not about coffee) that had some really crazy fruitiness going on. So first chocolate, then the Matari, should set some cool fireworks of taste in your mouth - certainly did in mine!

I talked quite a bit I think I really messed that one up. For the signature drink to really work, you must have the chocolate about a minute before the coffee. So I told the judges they should have a bite while I prepared the shots - and then I had to redo a couple of shots because I messed up dosing, and it appearantly took ages for my mind to make itself up wether or not I should repull and whatnot. So they had the chocolate, waited, waited, and waited, and around twenty gazillion hours later had the espressos. Damnit.

So, the most important thing I learned last weekend: training. If I want to compete ever again, I need to get myself the time and possibility of constant training, especially the months before the competition. Four evenings on a two group are not enough. I may have the passion, but I don't have a two group nor the other ressources needed for training!

The same goes for cuptasting: If I ever want to win that competition (and I will! There, I said it!), I have to become much faster. Seven minutes for 'only' six right won't get me into the finals, whereas five minutes would have. Feels good.

Dienstag, 12. Februar 2008

Pleasure again

It's so good to pull shots just for my very own pleasure again. Thank you Walter, your Coffee is still awesome.

That's all for today but I expect to have a review online by the end of this week.

(this was Latte Art Champion and Barista Vice Champion Jule Runge preparing for the final round)

Donnerstag, 7. Februar 2008

... I'm nervous ...

Walter's Coffee nearly all I need for saturday

... but I'm prepared!

(well, nearly. I know there's some stuff still missing, but I'll have it all in Frankfurt, I promise!)

Freitag, 25. Januar 2008

Competition Blend

Finally! If Walter gives his ok and doesn't say I'm totally off with my idea, I have my blend. Yay for today! I'm not yet sure wether I disclose now or after the competition. We'll see. I like it. Really!

I thought I'd just include my entry for the home-latte-art-contest right on here, thanks to Jessica who got me to familiarise myself with this damn flash thingy. See yourself:

Click here to see the video and make sure to have the Flash Player installed.

We'll see if I can pour a cappuccino like that on stage. I just hope I don't make a complete fool of myself!

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