Over the weekend, top baristas from 53 countries around the world competed for the title of World Barista Champion in Bogota, Colombia—the winner becoming the face of exceptional specialty coffee around the world. After a great all-around competition and an incredibly refined finals round on Sunday, Alejandro Mendez from El Salvador took the top prize with his stunning presentation. Big congrats to every competitor, who all exhibited incredible skill, craft and expertise in coffee.
World Barista Champion: Alejandro Mendez, El Salvador (710.5) 2nd: Pete Licata, USA (659.5) 3rd: Matt Perger, Australia (659) 4th: Javier Garcia, Spain (631.5) 5th: Miki Suzuki, Japan (629.5) 6th: John Gordon, UK (613.5)
Not only was this the first Championship held in a producing country* it’s the first time a barista from a producing country has won. Alejandro’s presentation showed his expert knowledge, not only of the coffee most consumers are familiar with, but everything else that is usually discarded in the harvesting process.
Alejandro’s signature drink was comprised of an infusion of coffee mucilage, a tea made with dried coffee flowers, and a tea made from cascara (dried coffee cherries). The espresso used, which was separated from the crema, was a single origin El Salvador, called Finca La Illusion. It was grown by Ernesto Menendez on the slopes of the Sanata Ana volcano and roasted by Steve Leighton of Has Bean Coffee in the UK.
After Alejandro’s final presentation, the internet lit up with excitement, claiming that El Salvador had won, even with several contestants left to compete. His presentation was remarkably calm, personable, and had a beautiful story. I can only imagine how great the drinks tasted. You can watch the final presentation below.
*While the US and Australia both produce coffee, I reserve the term “coffee producing” for countries who include coffee among their primary exports.
View videos of the all the competitors on Livestream
I’d like to introduce you to a new partner who joins Presso, in supporting all that goes on here at Dear Coffee, I Love You. Meet GoCoffeeGo, a company whose quirky Mod-themed website allows you to browse and order coffee from a growing, but carefully vetted list of great coffee roasters—all in one place. Once you’ve placed an order, it’s routed to the roaster who fulfills it with fresh roasted coffee shipped to your door.
So why not order directly from the roaster? If you already have a great relationship and unshakeable loyalty to a specific roaster, then by all means order directly from them. I definitely have my favorite roasters (a number of them sell through GoCoffeeGo), but I also love discovering new roasters and experiencing what else is out there.
GoCoffeeGo provides the opportunity to find quality roasters you may not have heard of, while also allowing you to schedule weekly shipments of coffee from the ones you already love. My favorite thing about the site is their Auto-Ship tool, which functions like a “Netflix queue” for your coffee. You can add all the coffees you’re interested in trying, from as many roasters as you like, and schedule how often you want them shipped to you. You can rearrange and edit your queue as you like, and if a roaster happens to sell out of a particular coffee, you’ll be notified and your queue adjusts itself accordingly.
I first discovered one of my favorite roasters, PTs Coffee, through GoCoffeeGo and I continue to enjoy the convenience it creates while exploring new roasters. It’s not the only place I order coffee from, but depending on your personal routine, the coffee and espresso beans from GoCoffeeGo may be all you’ll ever need—so check them out.
To launch this partnership right, we’re giving away a $40 Gift Card to GoCoffeeGo, along with a DCILY mug for the lucky winner to enjoy their coffee from. Here’s all you need to do to enter:
1. Visit GoCoffeeGo and browse all the great coffee they offer. 2. Come back here and leave a comment sharing the first two coffees you would order—roaster & coffee name. 3. Sunday night (June 5th) I will randomly pick one person from all the entries and announce the winner on Monday.
Easy right? Tweeting and sharing on Facebook won’t get you more entries, but it will give you good karma points. So start browsing, sharing and shopping and you may be treated to a pretty awesome reward next week.
Last summer I wrote about a prototype of a cement espresso machine, and this year I’ve come across one on the opposite end of the materials spectrum—built with Norwegian Poplar. The Linje, as it’s called, has a much softer presence and feels more refined than the cement model, but there’s probably just as little chance of it ever being produced. I really appreciate the natural finish of the wood, it appears much softer without the toxic shine of heavy varnish. The finish combined with the smooth profile of the machine make me want to reach out and touch it.
I’ve never seen the Iron Giant, it slipped past me while I was a teenage, but I’ve heard many people refer to it as one of their favorite animated movies. Yesterday, friend and former DCILY interviewee Frank Chimero, posted this and it made me laugh. I thought I’d share it for anyone else who hasn’t seen it. Enjoy!
Today was my first day at the 2011 Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo in Houston. It’s the year’s biggest coffee event and host to the United States Barista Championship and Brewers Cup. There’s coffee pouring from every corner of the convention center, more tote bags than you could ever fill and rows upon rows of syrups, smoothies and tea that seem a bit out of place.
This being my first coffee expo, I quickly learned the best thing about the event wasn’t the free swag or tables of new products—it’s the people. The incredibly passionate people who make up the specialty coffee industry. To be surrounded by people who inspire you and continue to push the limits of what they do in search of ways to be better, is an incredibly energizing feeling—though it could just be the caffeine.
I spent the first part of the morning tasting coffee from around the world at the “Best of Origin” area. There were about 12 coffees to try and I made it through about half of them—the coffee from Ka’u Hawaii surprised me the most, it was quite nice. Next I sat through a lecture about developing a training program for baristas, but found most of it to be pretty basic, common sense stuff.
After the lecture I met up with 2/3 of Handsome Coffee Roasters and hit the showroom floor to do some window shopping and make the rounds. Here are some highlights.
First stop was the La Marzocco booth to try a shot of Ryan Wilbur’s competition espresso, pulled on a Strada.
Checked out a demo of the EsproPress, a microfilter press pot which created a surprisingly clean cup.
Discovered the company responsible for producing some of the nicest coffee packaging on the market, including Intelligentsia, Verve and Social Coffee Co. Now I’ll be prepared when I’m finally hired to design someone’s coffee bags (hint).
Got to see the new Baratza Essato, a weight-based grinding system. Cool, but definitely overkill for a home-brewer. I can see the benefits for a small volume café, but I think it ultimately has limited use.
Had a cup of Square Mile’s Santa Lucia on the new Kalita pour-overs that Nick Cho recently started importing.
A Hario hot-brew iced coffee maker. While it’s pretty clunky looking, it creates a nice cup of coffee. The clear plastic funnel is filled with ice, and a double strength V60 is brewed on top of it—melting the ice and cooling the coffee simultaneously. Unlike cold-brew systems it retains some of the coffee’s brightness that I enjoy, but is often stripped away.
Some new products from Hario. I love the double walled press pot. Beautifully designed, with wood where most companies would use plastic.
A couple of former World Barista Champions (Stephen Morrissey & James Hoffmann) announcing the semi-finalists of the USBC.
The Championship trophies made by Reg Barber. Two more days before we know who they’ll belong too. Congrats to all the semi-finalists and good luck!
If you’re a cyclist, you most likely know the name Chris King. He makes the Rolls Royce of headsets (the component that helps connect and rotate the front fork & handlebars). They are one of the most expensive headsets on the market, but they last a lifetime and their smooth performance is top notch. The design of Chris King components continue to lead the competition and their brightly anodized metal always stand out.
Now, the beauty of Chris King bike parts are available for the most indulgent, bike loving baristas everywhere. Designed in collaboration with the American Barista & Coffee School in Portland, OR—the $75 tamper is definitely pricey, but damn sexy.
I first discovered One Village Coffee in late June and posted about their fantastic new packaging, but I hadn’t be able to try their coffee because of my travel schedule. The guys from One Village finally caught up with me and sent a spread of their coffees to sample.
One Village Coffee (OVC) is a Certified B Corporation, which means they’ve been certified to not only consider monetary stakeholders, but also societal stakeholders (eg. communities, environment, and employees). This is a fairly new distinction, but an honorable step to take for any business. The coffee is sourced through direct relationships with farmers and OVC is actively involved with community projects at origin in Nigeria and Honduras. Great company, great design, now let’s get to the coffee!
— Organic Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Light Roast
Aroma: Very herbal while presenting itself with a brisk and cool aura, a burst of sweet mint with chocolate undertones and a hint of cinnamon toast create an invigorating first impression.
Taste: The cup is mellow and full with very little brightness. The herbal minty aromas have transformed into into an earthy basil. Smooth, but with a dry mouthfeel more reminiscent of Indonesians that hint of leather and tobacco. The finish lands with a peppery kick that lingers on the tongue as a surprising, but pleasant conclusion.
Overall, this Ethiopian really shined. Although it’s different than others I’ve had in the past, I enjoyed the unique characteristics of it. I may be a purist, but when I was introduced to single origin coffee, my love for coffee truly began. I appreciate and enjoy the integrity of a bean’s natural flavor more than the attempts to craft a specific taste. It’s like playing with nature. Blends are the GMOs of the coffee world.
— Artist Blend Medium Dark Roast
Aroma: Caramel and deceptively sweet hints of vanilla bean roll out of the cup through a forest of old growth wood ravaged by a california wild fire.
Taste: The sweet but tart characteristics of Lemonhead candies are sadly muted by the smokey taste of an old campfire blanket. The carbon fog lifts towards the finish, ending on a brighter note, reminding you of what could have been.
While I wouldn’t buy the Artist Blend myself, I’m aware that some people really enjoy the smokiness of darker coffees. But the slight glimmering beans and the hollow use of “Bold” as a descriptor on the bag, evokes Starbucks Pike Place. I can tell there are some underlying flavors that would really shine in a lighter roast.
— Nordico Espresso Medium Roast
Aroma: Sweet and seductive, full of brown sugar scents and notes of mixed nuts. All of the goodies you’d put in a bowl of oatmeal, compacted into a 2oz shot.
Taste: Very smooth with a subtle and approachable brightness. The essence of almond and chocolate are most prominent with a touch of apricot. A well-rounded espresso for beginners with a finish that lingers comfortably after the goods are gone.
I’ve been drinking a lot of single origin shots recently, which tend to be very bright and acidic. I enjoy it, but it’s definitely too intense for many people, especially those drinking shots for their first time. OVC’s Nordico Espresso is really smooth and balanced, a nice way to introduce someone to espresso without completely shocking their senses.
This is my latest print in an attempt to shine light on some of the common misconceptions that surround espresso. However, this one is questionable. I’ve read many studies that suggest that a shot of espresso has less caffeine than an 8oz cup of drip/pour-over coffee and others that state the opposite, depending on how it’s measured. I tend to think a 1oz shot is going to have significantly less caffeine, does anyone out there know otherwise? Please let me know!
After posting my last print, I decided to make a series of them that address many of the errors I encounter daily in the world of coffee. These are things I find annoying or just plain wrong, yet are continually perpetuated by marketers, and the uninformed. So think of these as Espresso 101 flash cards. There will be a test, so find a partner and study up!