Monday, September 7, 2009

No More Championships

Caffenation is out.
We're out.
I'm out. Knock out.

What's going on in this crazy coffee world?

Last year I've been traveling around the world to taste the best possible espresso's and see the best Barista's at work.
Every year we taste (and mostly offer at the bar) the WBC winning espresso.
And in between I tasted supreme espresso's from Intelligentsia (a lot actually), Stumptown, Ritual, Blue Bottle, Coffee Collective, Johan & Nystrom, FourBarrell, 49th PR, Kontra, Bocca, Square Mile, Vivace, Hasbean, George Howell, Barismo, Knopes and so on (5 of them were top 6 this year at the World Championships). This is my list for 2009 till today.

Our goal at the Belgian Championships this year was to get ourselves up to this world class level.
For that I was willing to find some aid abroad and order the best of the best (reviewed and tasted) beans.
But it's still a Belgian Championship and in the Antwerp Harbour we found goodies that seemed to match the level of the above tasted beans/coffee's.

Our 'Little Green Bag' was the most popular blend we ever launched and tested by dozens of coffee enthusiasts, both professional or amateur. I was so delighted we finally were able to close the gap with the International Roastery's.

Last year we won the prize for 'best espresso' - so you can't call us a bunch of dreamers without experience on championships - and this year it would be a whole lot better...
First of all : I have to admit we won last years 'best espresso' trophy with an espresso I wasn't so crazy about. We just won because the rest was even 'less'. You know we're still selling a comparable blend as last years for €12,50 a kilo. I guess it is the cheapest on the market. And for the sure the best value for money.
This year it would be a totally different ball game. Our 'Little Green Bag' has much more depth, intensity and taste and is a perfect match for milk and chocolate.

Yesterday eve Jeff (the man with the highest Visa 'Coffee Bill' in Belgium), Katrien (Last year's number 5, pretty fanatic and maybe the best Barista I know in this country) and Pauli (German coffee addict) all agreed this year's espresso and cappuccino were our best ever and way better than the one from last year.

Today backstage we encountered a lot of happy faces drinking our clean shots and caps.
And onstage I couldn't spot mistakes in the extraction or bad shot coloring. Every day I go to work I see a couple hundred espresso shots running out of the spouts. After a while you can see how a good shot looks like, trust me on this.
Milk frothing on stage looked good. Nice micro foam and 1 cm in the cup.
Style was good, the atmosphere right.
But then the results on the scoring sheets : awful!

Was the cup too strong? Grow up. I totally do not agree with this!!!! (and some of the most advanced Dutch pro's who've recently been drinking some of our shots probably will back me up on this).
And what happened with the calibration? They took some Illy beans?

Of course I feel like an idiot. Are we nuts? Do we fooled ourselves?
We never trained harder. We never invested more time and money in this. We were never so satisfied and confident. And still, today we're not with the first 9 to advance to the BBC October 1st.
Of course I feel like an amateur without taste buds and knowledge. And Roeland is a bad Barista (he did 35 run throughs with in total 8 professional Barista's judging him on some of the runs. And he's a pro Barista who's grinding plus minus 15 kilo of specialty coffee a week!!!!)

Or are we too advanced into 3rd wave and isn't a Belgian judge these days not informed how an espresso or cap in 'our' world tastes like?
Tell me what to think...

85% of the points go for taste and today they say Caffenation is running (far) behind the other Barista's in Belgium.

I guess I won't sleep tonight.
Bye bye Barista Championships. This is not our cup of tea (no more).

ps : The other Barista I helped, Isabelle, did not do a very good run. The blend was not a real championship blend and the techniques limited, which is normal for a 4 month old Barista.
On stage there were of lot of problems, but she had a very good presence.
We were a bit afraid for the result, but look .... she passed though.
Congrats Isa and good luck at the Village.

No comments: