Becoming a Better Competitor. Survey for Great Lakes Coffee Alliance

For the upcoming CoffeeTalk.a barista guild and great lakes coffee alliance jam, Scott Lucey will be leading a discussion on becoming a better barista competitor. The following are questions we would love to have you all answer to get a better grasp on the direction the discussion should go. You do not need to be from the Great Lakes or be attending this jam to respond. All responses are welcome and encouraged.

1)How much control do you have over your coffee?

2)What is your goal in being a barista?

3)Are you familiar with manipulating shot times and volumes for the sake of certain flavors?

If you have any questions or statements you would like to send anonymously please feel free to email them to info at greatlakescoffeealliance.com. Thanks to all for your input and look forward to seeing you in the G-rap!

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Hey... I am very timidly and honestly answering these questions. I'm Joe. I am not in the Great Lakes Region, but have tons of respect and love for you all up there. This was the first competition I ever witnessed. (Coffee Fest Chicago... I think it was '05 or maybe '06.) I am a roaster/trainer/barista for Kaldi's in St. Louis, so not too far away. Competed last year in the USBC. I did not do as well as I hoped... but I am still very proud that I made it as far as I did. It was my first year competing, so I hope to do better this year. It is definitely crunch time.

Ok... Coffee control. I have it,... but I want more of it. I love tweaking grinds, and doses; shot times, and viscosity; sweetness, and brightness, etc. Yet, I feel as though I am barely scratching the surface. I am fortunate enough to be a roaster. This allows me even more control over my coffee. I can also play with roast levels, blending, the possibilities are endless. The roast is where I really get my kicks.

My goal in being a barista is truly to honor the hard work of the farmer and help people appreciate the complexities of coffee. Preservation of quality and exemplification of characteristics. I also just love it! So, I guess a goal would be enjoyment, relaxation, and lots of free espresso. If I did not do this for a living, I would be broke. Oh, wait, I am broke because I do this for a living... hmmm.... anyway....

This third question is a reiteration of the first, so I'll stop typing.
1) I have a lot of control, but I wish I had more, I think we all do. If you are referencing things such as where your coffee comes from, keeping it fresh, who roasts it and to what level, I honestly have complete control as I do our coffee buying, but you still always want more control... I would like to be roasting our coffee in shop, and currently we are not doing that. I feel like we lose a little bit in this area. If I do figure out which beans are best on which days, I still can't really manipulate our espresso blend to feature this, as each bean is roasted when I order and so they are all on the "same day."

2) My main goal is to educate. That's such a broad and general term, but I don't care. I would hate to interact with a customer every day for a year or two and then find out that the customer had just as much coffee knowledge at the current point as he/she did when I first started making their coffee. It would break my heart. I see the counter as my classroom and the machine as my whiteboard. I want to make every customer curious about coffee. I want to change people's perceptions of what quality coffee is and what it can be. I want to bring the story of the farm to them and open their eyes to the steps and processes that are so tedious and labor some.

3) Yes, but in a very general way.

Trevor, do you need any help with this jam? I'm just in Kazoo, whatever you need let me know. I can just be running and doing dishes in the background if that's what you need, if you need more hands on trainers, let me know. If you need to meet me before you make up your mind, let me know as well. We just hired 3 baristas so my schedule freed up a lot. I'm willing to help out where you need me to... oh, and I plan to be there. :0)

-bry
1.Control is relative to many things. I have a little control over sourcing and roasting because I am in quality control in a roasting company. This means that I have ability to buy fresh crop and oversee the storage, profiling, and freshness of our coffee. I also make the decisions concerning our offerings, so I can make changes to offerings to reflect higher quality. In terms of preparation, I have machines available that are temperature stable and I have burr grinders of varying sorts that give me a full range of manipulation for grind particle size. I think that using a conical burr grinder with low burr speed yields best results.

2.My goal as a barista is to be as true to the coffee as possible and to capture its essence anytime I extract it by following freshness, using quality equipment, and continually developing my techniques to reflect even and quality extractions.

3.Manipulation of shot times and volumes is a vast and infinite pool of trial with amazing amounts of data that can be grasped. I strive to use controlled volumes, shot times, and grind size to coax the essence out of the coffee. I think that measurement and control is the key to understanding in espresso as with all brewing methods. If I understand the quality of the water, the temperature of the water, the brewing pressure, brewing time, dosage of coffee, and final shot volume, then I can begin to assess the capabilities of the coffee. Unfortunately, too many people make blind judgments about a coffee's quality without having controls and documentation that is a constant, consistent measurement for a basis to measure coffee's quality. The days of blindly pulling shots with no measurement and then making blanket judgments needs to end.
This is a bump and an update.

CoffeeTalk. tomorrow everyone. Coffee's from around the world. Workshops lead by Edwin Martinez of Finca Vista Hermosa, Scott Lucey of Alterra Coffee, Jesse Crouse of Intelligentsia, Chris Deferio and Chris Demarse of the Coffee Institute, and Ryan Knapp of MadCap Coffee. TeamWork Bags go to first and second place in the latte art throwdown. Beer Macchiatos at Hopcat. Good times.
Hey Trevor, do we have to preregister or can I just show up tomorrow with the $$?

-bry

Trevor said:
CoffeeTalk. tomorrow everyone. Coffee's from around the world. Workshops lead by Edwin Martinez of Finca Vista Hermosa, Scott Lucey of Alterra Coffee, Jesse Crouse of Intelligentsia, Chris Deferio and Chris Demarse of the Coffee Institute, and Ryan Knapp of MadCap Coffee. TeamWork Bags go to first and second place in the latte art throwdown. Beer Macchiatos at Hopcat. Good times.
Just show. You can register tomorrow morning between 8 and 9.

Bryan Wray said:
Hey Trevor, do we have to preregister or can I just show up tomorrow with the $$?

-bry

Trevor said:
CoffeeTalk. tomorrow everyone. Coffee's from around the world. Workshops lead by Edwin Martinez of Finca Vista Hermosa, Scott Lucey of Alterra Coffee, Jesse Crouse of Intelligentsia, Chris Deferio and Chris Demarse of the Coffee Institute, and Ryan Knapp of MadCap Coffee. TeamWork Bags go to first and second place in the latte art throwdown. Beer Macchiatos at Hopcat. Good times.

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