Tuesday, February 27, 2007

See My Trip Here...

Well, I've been back home a couple days now, and it's always fun coming back from these things. Everyone gets tired and needs to sit down for a couple hours, but in reality, you just miss your friends. The coffee community never ceases to amaze me. We compete, we party, and we tell each other of the latest happenings all around. It's inspiring to me. Luckily, no PCD (Post-Competition Depression) has set in yet. But it's obvious I'm not in Chicago anymore.

You've all probably heard that Mr. Riddle brought home his second regional title by now... He did very well. His drink was similar to something I once tried, but warm... a direction I never even thought to take it. He rocked so smooth and so well. I've got the video of it that I'll try to get online sometime soon.

The weather in Chicago got really crazy the last couple of days. Many people got stuck in Chicago due to snow and cancelled flights. Our drive home wasn't the most fun, but I slept through a good part of it. Anyway, I wanted to let everyone know that I posted all my pics from the trip. Good times...

Kopplin's has a little bit going on right now... If you are in the area, do stop by. We now have an official "industry professional" policy. If you work in the coffee industry, let us know and you're espresso or macchiatto is on us... We are also working on our own custom blend.

Eventually, I'll try to get some videos posted online too... Oh, and if you haven't figured it out. Click the blog title to go to my Flickr.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Chi City Love Pt. III

To continue on with information from yesterday... Like I said, congrats to the finalists of the GLRBC... I forgot to mention the Millrock competition. What a blast... and a crowd. I don't know if it was really that entertaining, or if it had something to do with the baristas who were actually there, but there were a lot of people watching, and that was awesome. Scott Lucey and Chris Baca get to rock the finals today. So does Hiroshi from Purple(something) coffee in Japan. Sorry, can't remember his store name right now... but Hiroshi comes from Tokyo to compete in these competitions all the time. This is the first time he made finals and I am very happy for him. Baca is at the top of his game and poured some very clean lattes... I would love to see Baca or Tiesel take home the heavy cash. Both of them have been in the top three for the last couple latte art battles, but neither have taken it yet. Good luck today homies!

The show floor was good times. I very much need to point out that The Roasterie is here in Chicago... and they brought the Mistral. It's very clean now and beautiful. Many props to Jason Burton for A) being a cool guy and B) bringing some good coffee to the show and handing me the best macchiatto I've tasted on a show floor.

The Ritual kids and myself decided to bust out for some lunch. So, we busted over to this place called The Wiener Circle. Amazing. The kids working there are straight up. You walk in and immediately people are yelling at you, "Hey! You ready to order?!?" The hot dogs are damn good. Then they shoot at you with, "What's on this Polish?" And you ask, "What'd you have?" To which they respond, "Everything." Yeah... it's great. Oh, and when you order fries. You get probably 3 lbs. of fries.

We ended the day at the Intelligentsia Party. Their roasting works is awesome. Very impressive. The kegs and wine were great. It was awesome to see everyone there. Nick Cho immediately got the dance party rolling and Ryan Jenson was definitely not scared to rock it as well. Marcus Boni was running around making sure everything went well... and it did. The party was his baby and he raised it right! Doug was happy to share the nickle tour with us... Oh, and major thanks to you Doug... I much appreciate the skate deck! Eventually we found the basketball hoop mounted on a wall... and that started a whole new realm of craziness. Oh, and I got to try Justin Tiesels full sig drink. Excellent!

The night ended in chaos as we roamed the streets of the industrial district looking for a cab... not fun. It was sleeting... Sleet people. That hurts when it hits your face... so not cool. Anyway, we finally found something and Aaron and I crammed into a cab with all the Rituals... We finally got back safe. Well, we're about to head out for the finals of everything... time to get going... more later.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Congratulations Mike Phillips.

The post is named as it should be. By now, most of you have probably heard who the finalists are in the GLRBC... Anyway, I think its awesome when someone who really cares about coffee... genuinely... is successful. Mike is one of those people. Before he moved to Chicago to work for them, he was a home roaster and barista. He's been passionate since before he was a professional. AND!!! He's a really nice guy. I have met many competitors and the compassionate ones are the ones I respect. People like Scott Lucey, Chris Baca, Chris Deferio, and, of course, Jon Lewis. Anyway, congrats to all the finalists, but especially to you Mr. Phillips.

Today has been awesome. Good friends, good times, good coffee. We had a blast at the Millrock show! We're lighting it up tomorrow too! My condolences go to my man, J. Tiesel! I wish he had made it to the finals. He's the man. Bottom line. Tomorrow, latte art. His time to shine! I'm going to go party with the Tellie's!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chi City Love Pt. II

Well, day one of the Coffee Fest Chicago show is done. The competitions have been awesome. The Millrock Latte Art competition is right next to the GLRBC. In fact, they are sharing audio for the events. The show floor is kinda cool. Not too many seriously interesting booths, but the ones that are cool, ARE COOL. ESI has their booth filled with Franke and Marzocco gear. We played a bit with the GB5 they have, but they've paired it with a Swift. Not so cool. The GS3 is there... the third one I've played with... and ironically, still different than either of the other two. Justin Tiesel and I had some fun with the thing, but like Klaus has said on coffeed, the steaming is questionable.
Zoka has their standard booth up... Clover and Linea putting out great stuff. During the later half of the day, competitor and past USBC finalist, Steve Fritzen, was pulling shots.

Next to the Zoka booth was one of my favorite places to be. The Barista Magazine booth. They have an awesome new shirt I encourage you all the check out and buy. Sarah and Ken are some of my favorite people and I am very glad they are here.

There is no Clover booth, but if you hang out long enough at Intelligentsia's booth, you'll probably be able to say hello to Anastasia. She is here serving up some great stuff. The booth also features an FB-80 and some great Black Cat. Oh, and Major props to Intelly's new packaging. I was floored. I really really really like it. No joke. If there was anything on the floor that had me impressed, it was that. Tomorrow night is the big Intelly party and I am stoked to see the roasting works.
I spent some quality time at the GLRBC and I was fairly impressed by what I saw. This was the 7th competition I have seen and each time it gets better and better. Only two of today's 13 competitors looked like rookies. Hardly anyone went over time. It was smooth. Mike Phillips from Intelligentsia... in all honesty, has some serious advantages training with his team and just working for Intelly... but, he still did a knock out job. First competition... hardly! He looked great and I wish him the best. Justin Tiesel rocked his presentation. Not as fast as when I saw him in Kansas City, but great non the less. I was able to taste a component of his sig drink yesterday up at the store... and it was awesome. I really hope he advances.

Speaking of advancing, Nick Cho will be moving into the finals of the latte art rock out! Even Doug Zell is in this one... he didn't advance, but he did a much better job than I'd expect more head hancho's to do. Honestly, I forgot who else moved on, but give me a break... there's much happening. Well, we're about to head out for the parties. Till tomorrow! Viva Espresso! Viva Chicago! Viva Barista!

Chi-City Love.

Today is the first day of the GLRBC and Coffee Fest Chicago. I'm stoked. Mr. Scott Lucey flies into the city tonight, straight up and outta El Salvador. Chris Baca and Co. are here representing Ritual. The only sad story is that Nick *AKA* PureArabica... Couldn't make it. Not enough out of region spots for this one... Nick we'll miss you!

We left the cities around 9:15 yesterday and headed first to Cedarburg, WI to drop off some coffee to a wholesale account. The place, The Java House, is awesome! David, the owner, buys both green and some roasted coffee from us. What green he buys he roasts in this tiny space in a local music store. It's literally a closet that he has his roaster in. Anyway, the espresso was surprisingly good... It was actually the first shot I had pulled using a swift, so I was very skeptical. But, the results were great. Heavy chocolate presented in a totally balanced and unoffensive way. Well done Kevin. We would love to have more wholesale accounts like this place.

From Cedarburg, we headed down to visit Alterra. We stopped, first, at the main store. The one with the roasters... yes, it is awesome. Justin Tiesel was there and gave me a quick tour around the space. It's awesome and they're expanding... It's cool to see such good coffee in Milwaukee. I lived in Wisconsin for a few years back in the day, and coffee was the last thing I remember about Milwaukee... but not anymore. We rolled over to the Lakeview store, and I was blown away. Alterra knows how to market themselves in ways we dream of. I could have purchased enough Alterra clothing to where I would never have to wear anything else again. They've got it all. Cups, clothing, teas, chocolate. And the store itself is beautiful. Oh, and the food we had at the Alterra stores was awesome. Well, done kids.

We finally, after a short detour looking for some other cafe, got into Chicago. Out hotel... Hotel 71, is beautiful and makes me smile. We're a short distance from some sweet bars and the venue. Aaron and I spent an awesome night with some great cigars. Well, we're about roll over to the competiton. Much love to everyone! I'll do my best to keep everyone updated!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

More News...

Well, after a bit of a battle, it sounds like our GB5 is running ever-so-smoothly at the Paradise Roastery. I'm excited. To actually have great tasting espresso at anytime at either job will be great. The problem we've had to deal with was in one of the copper compression lines related to the hot water jet on the front. But, now that's in the past. As a result of the new machine, we'll be offering our first espresso training classes on March 3. So, call the roastery (763-433-0626) for more details on how you can join in the fun and play with the new GB5...

If you haven't seen this then you're sure missing out. My good friend, Scott Lucey, is bearing it all in this issue of Barista Magazine. Scott's a rad due, and the article proves there are things happening here in the midwest.

We've been rocking the Espresso Havana at Kopplin's lately... well, I haven't, but our other baristas have (Story to come someday). Here's the shot I just had...
While this blog seems to be giving props to cool people in the world... I've got to give it up for my girl, Lizz Hudson, and the man- Mr. Duane Sorenson at Stumptown... This past week was the opening of their 4th cafe... on Valentines day. The shop, on the main level of the Ace Hotel, is amazing. 4 Clovers... putting us to shame. Power to the industry!

Well, finally, for now, I leave you with this... Here's a shot of our coffee menu as is right now. Notice the note about the Tolima Perez. Life isn't bad here in the 'Sota! Oh, and this Thursday we take off for Chicago! We'll be staying at Hotel 71 and I am excited to see everyone!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dancin' Pat

Well, while I'm on a video kick... here's a crappy one taken with my phone a bit back. Enjoy as we celebrate some the terrible music we used to play in the shop...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Finger Lick'n Goodness...

Well, the GB5 is in. We've spent two days getting odd parts to make it work with the ridiculous water system the roastery has. Finally fixed it today... only to find a fastener needs to be tightened or the thing shoots water whenever we turn on the hot water jet. Either way, we can now pull shots that taste great... I'm loving it.

Pat, a good friend and hilarious co-worker at Kopplin's took this video of Andrew Milstead... one of our great baristas. I'm sure there will be more Kopplin's videos to come...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where does your coffee come from?

Many of my friend this year have been able to visit coffee origins... Billy, Kevin, and Phoung all just got back from Guatemala. Scott Lucey is about to bust out to El Salvador, Nick Cho just spent some time with Ms. Batlle in El Salvador, and apparently, Jay Caragay is on his way to Ethiopia... I talked to Phoung the other day and spent some time checking out Billy's Flickr photos... and it's all got me wondering more and more about what it's like on the farms we buy coffee from.

Now, when I say what it's like... I don't mean, how hard is the work, or anything like that. I mean, how much do the farmers care about a) the human being working for them and b) the coffee they are producing. From start to finish... is the coffee being taken care of? Paradise is a small company and we don't have a huge travel budget, but I am becoming more and more uncomfortable with the idea of buying coffees, even great tasting ones, where we have no idea what's going on beyond what gets to us.

All the time we talk about specialty and relational coffee in the cafe... Getting to know your customers and all that jazz. I feel it needs to be just as relational with the farmers. If I had a mug in my hand right now I would raise it to the simple idea of continuing to raise standards and to making the world a better place!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Leaving school, I knew I was taking on a challenge... but what's already happened in the 37 days of 2007 I've experienced is just kinda getting ridiculous. From car problems, to sickness, and everywhere in between, it just sorta leaves me wondering what's next? Ah, so pessimistic... hold up.


Let me tell you about some of the rad things going on. For starters, sometime this week we are getting the GB5 in at the Roastery. I'm feeling kinda giddy inside on this one. There's something exciting to me about coming home to La Marzocco. Speaking of Paradise, I love roasting coffee. I never really thought it would be my thing, but I really enjoy it. I call it my coffee "desk job." I have a workspace and it is filled with my tools, and when I arrive I grab my morning cup of something delicious off the Clover... yes, you hear all about Kopplin's Clovers from me, but Paradise has one as well... I'm surrounded in the best way possible... When I need to work out, we simply get a new shipment of beans, and there I go lifting 100 lbs. bags. When I am not roasting I walk myself into Kopplin's and I grab a double espresso or try a new blend... that I roasted. I see customers take the first sip of every coffee and I stare with anticipation of how they will react to the flavors of the roast. It's changed my perspective completely.

Oh, and something else rad is going on. I just started brewing beer again. Yeah! Well, battery is about to go. I'll wrap this up. Later...