I've been sorta quiet post SCAA/USBC. Even on the boards, I haven't had much intelligent to say. I guess it's because my head is still spinning from all that has gone on. I mean, the 2,000 mile move, the show floor, competition (& it's drama), and now working and slowly advancing toward opening, what I believe will be, the post progressive coffee bar the world has seen.
LA, my friends, has been such a nice change of climate. Not only is the weather lovely, but the scenery is much more appetizing. Lush green hills surround silverlake and not a day goes by where I can't appreciate the views of hillsides and palm trees. The reality that I live here is yet to hit me, but I doubt it will set in until we open the bar.
I want to revisit a subject that I've been trying to avoid. The USBC. I'm not about to suggest any rule changes. That's a constant battle everyone keeps raging and I don't think it's the key... The key, is not in the rules, but in the judges. We keep looking for consistency, but we also keep bringing in these home geeks, bar owners, etc. and the inconsistency needs to be weeded out before these kids hit the competition. I'm not saying there should be a higher criteria for who judges... but for who judges what event. I mean, you're not stepping up to the WBC table until a year after you've completed the training, right? So, why not at least set the bar at having experience at a minimum of one regional? Is it just me, or does it seem logical.
Maybe my lack of faith in the first timers comes from my involvement with this years judges training... I was the guy who was supposed to be pulling good shots... And for the record, my machine was the one they pulled the plug on during the competition. I noticed the flow meters being really messed up, but just assumed someone would figure it out... yeah, I should have said something. Anyway, some of the comments being made by people, and some of the assumptions were purely ludicrous! Anyway, I just feel like until all the judges are extremely well calibrated, we're always going to have these wild highs and lows in scoring...
Why does this matter some may ask... Because it shouldn't be that hard of a competition to master! The rules are laid out before every competitor. They score sheets are theirs to study for months. They can even grab them right now and use the math to figure out what means the most for next year... The tamping, milk steaming, drink building is something that only nerves throw off. The competitors for this years comp weren't newbies... They were some of the best baristas this world has to offer... All the scoring is the same from competitor to competitor... only one factor changes and that is the judges they are serving to. I know I'm gripping from a distance, as I did not compete this year... but take out all the hype and drama of what the competition is, and look at it from a simple, logical point of view.
Lastly, I kinda want to address the Tatiana Becker issue... Understand this, I've got mad love and respect for the Trabant kids... They're some of the newest Clover kids and you have to give it up to them for that if nothing else! The only place I really feel Tatiana crossed the line was with the judges. Use your theme, be fun, but don't make the judges wear beer hats. In fact, I feel Katie Carguilo went a little over board as well. Her drink involved dropping an espresso into a tall glass of steamed milk and practically jugging it. The judges aren't college kids! Have a drink that is fun and interactive, but can we loose this party during competition crap. Somewhere in my first year of coffee it was pointed out to me how we're an industry built of college drop outs and drug addicts... We don't need to carry this into the USBC. The final piece of the puzzle is newly elected, Nick Cho. I can't tell you how pissed I've been at the remarks he made on the podcast... The apology is accepted, the podcast is removed, and it will pass... but please everyone see what has happened. We are a barista family. There aren't that many of us fighting to educate people on what coffee can be, we need each other to be encouraged and reminded we aren't the only ones out there obsessing over this. Someday, maybe there will be enough of us to go on like that, but right now, we're too small of a family...
Those are my thoughts, this is way too long... good night!