Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vincent 2nd at Belgian Barista Championship 2013

5 years ago i posted every week something about Barista Championships.
Because of a couple of unpleasant experiences and other hobbies I'm not so fanatic anymore, but we're still hanging in there with Caffenation and we try to send our rookie Barista's every year to the Belgian version of the biggest coffee competition on earth.
Very simply because i want them to become a better Barista. To understand how complex it all is, but also how fun it can be. They learn to tame a grinder, to improve on consistency, start tasting better and improve self confidence.

This year it was Vincent's turn to get his ass on stage.
His trainer was good old, warrior at many battle fields, Simon.

In the qualifications he ended 4th which was just good enough for the finals.

But yesterday at the finals he was blistering and took a well deserves 2nd spot!!!, behind Louis, owner of Donko's. 3rd was Jelle (Drop coffee) and 4th Valentine (Café Labath).

A little bit extra info from behind the curtains:

Vincent his coffee : Papua New Guinea Kimel Peaberry.
When this coffee came in 2,5 months ago i didn't like the first batch of espresso roast. It didn't feel balanced and I shared the opinion of Sander, who sourced this one for us, that it was more a filter coffee.
Simon thought different, pushed on and after some experiments on both Roaster side- Jeff is unstoppable - and on espresso machine at Broer Bretel - Toon is a prime Barista - i noticed this bean DID have a lot of potential on espresso.

That was 2 months ago and we ordered a whole more of Kimel.
Toon kept on pushing the coffee in his bar and we used it for the Aeropress Championship because of its polyvalent character.
By the time the Aeropress championship, the First of April, came closer we sensed some difficulties. It showed some woodyness left and right and the Baristas that day had a tough time taming it.

Last week it did drop some more, Toon threw it off the grinder and at the last rehearsals I wasn't happy anymore, but it was too late to change.
Changing your coffee the last week before a championship is the stupidest thing to do.

The cappuccino didn't suffer and neither did the signature drink, although we knew this part of the presentation wasn't our strongest one.

When we look back a the scoring sheet it showed.
It was more because of Vincents brilliance on scene, and Simons guidance, that he finished 2nd.

Picking the right bean for a championship always sounds easy, but once you get closer to the championship it all seems to change.
Most beans are just not clean and strong and complex enough to use for 3 different preparations. A solution can be to use more than 1 bean, but this puts a whole lot more pressure on the Barista and roaster.

Most important reason to struggle this years championship was the period (end of April) and the fact the WBC comes only 1 month after the Belgian heat.
Valentine, who also works with our coffee, had - with reason - big ambitions for this finals and picked a coffee that gave the opportunity to continue working with till the eventual finals in Melbourne in 4 weeks.
The Good central coffees only arrive around these weeks. The same for Ethiopia. And for Kenya and Costa Rica it even takes longer.
Most Brazils are in but mostly not the most impressive competition coffees and so we ended up with fresh Burundi and PNG....

Louis used a Mexico. Mexico always has a later pick then the coffees from Central America and his coffee was still fresh enough to give it a go.
I remember this cupping we did together and I also remembered there were a couple of nice clean Mexicans on that table that day, but you can't buy them all. But credit who deserves it ; he ordered the bean, tested it and decided to use it. And the result : numero uno!
Last year I couldn't believe there was such a big gap in points between his coffee and this one of Roeland, but this year I truly believe he smashed the competition and took the title in a glorious way.

Hopefully he finds enough time and a good supporting cast to prep himself for Melbourne and make all Belgians proud. Good luck out there Louis.

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