The season for this year’s coffee events has only just begun, but it’s never too soon to begin planning a trip to one of the last (and one of my favorites)—the Nordic Barista Cup. This intimate gathering of coffee professionals includes lectures, socializing, cupping and both the Nordic barista team competitions and Nordic Roaster Cup.
Space is limited to only 200 participants to foster an environment of inclusiveness and community. The event, which took place in Copenhagen the last two years, is moving to Oslo this fall where it will be hosted at Mathallen, the city’s new culinary epicenter. Mathallen is home to the new Solberg & Hansen concept store and is just a short walk away from Tim Wendelboe’s coffee bar (incase you needed any more incentive).
This year’s focus country is Brazil. Ticket are on sale now and take note that the prices will increase on July 1st. Stay tuned for a full list of speakers.
Last night, 200 of the coffee industries finest gathered together in Copenhagen, Denmark to welcome the next 3 days of inspiring speakers, cuppings, Nordic barista team competitions and enough delicious coffee to satisfy all our discerning palates.
I am on-site with my colleague Tim Styles from Workshop Coffee to capture all the action. We will be uploading videos of the speakers at the end of each day, blogging and tweeting the highlights on behalf of the Nordic Barista Cup for those who can’t be here.
If you’re a roaster or aspiring roaster, one of the best roaster events in Europe will be taking place in Stockholm this October. The Nordic Roaster Forum is an intimate educational experience to further the knowledge and skill of specialty coffee roasters.
I attended last year to help with the event and the cuppings, lectures and parties were all fantastic experiences. You can watch the videos from last year forum on Vimeo
Nordic Roaster Forum is a 2-day seminar where 65 roasters will gather to learn about varietals, processing, sourcing, trading and roasting. The program is a mix of lectures, cuppings, dialogue and social networking. Farmers from producing countries will speak about the coffee and the trade from their perspective. Roasters will reflect and talk about their approach. We will cup the coffees processed by these farmers and roasted by the roasters.
Taking place this week in Vienna is Europe’s largest specialty coffee event, the SCAE’s World of Coffee. As I board a flight to head that way, I wanted to leave you with a long overdue recap of the SCAA Event, the USA’s largest specialty coffee event, which I attended in Portland this April.
Apart from being in Portland, arguably the coffee capital of the US, this years Event was full of great coffee, good food, old friends, new friends and a look at the direction specialty coffee is heading. I imagine Europe’s World of Coffee to be much of the same with a European twist. So take this as a preview of things to look for and expect to hear about during the week.
I landed a few days early for a prelude of Portland tourism and a chance to take in some of the stellar coffee shops around town, including Barista, Coava, and Heart (among others) before the impending coffee mobs arrived.
The Event itself began with a standing-room-only talk by James Hoffmann, who spoke about the importance of customer service and the need to change customer’s perceptions of what a coffee shop can be. Hoffmann argued for the need of this shift in order to create a market for higher priced coffee with ever more valuable experiences.
Following James’ talk, the morning continued with the much anticipated United States AeroPress Championship—where I filled a last minute vacancy and performed terribly—followed immediately by the World AeroPress Championship. The crowd was dense and the competition fierce, and Belgium held onto the WAC title for the 2nd year in a row.
The trade show floor stretched endlessly in any given direction. Many booths were of little interest, but the ones that caught my eye were usually displaying heaps of toys you’d like to take home with you. Hario may have won the award for the highest number of desirable products in one place.
My favorites were the redesigned syphon prototype, the electric glass kettle and a new 1 liter Buono. The primary focus of their booth, however, seemed to be the new V60 scale & timer unit—finally integrating two important tools into one device. This will certainly free up iPhones everywhere to post more brewing shots on Instagram.
Baratza also showed off their new set of metal burrs developed specifically for maximizing the consistency of filter grind settings on the Vario-W grinders.
Following La Marzocco’s booth, which was staffed with star baristas on lovely machines, serving a rotation of delicious coffees, the most popular place to be was Alpha Dominche, tucked away in a far corner of the showroom floor.
All of the buzz and the beauty surrounding their machine won them a much deserved award for “Best New Product.” (Nice article & interview with them on CoffeeGeek)
One reoccuring trend that showed up in various booths throughout the event was a selection of new high-end home brewers, with a focus on water temperature stability and improved coffee saturation. From the already released Bonavita and Bodum autodrip machines to the new Behmor Brazen, Technivorm seems to finally have some legitimate competition (however the Moccamaster is still the best looking by far).
I also had the pleasure of meeting Dave and Dave, the creators behind the Kickstarter sensation Coffee Joulies, which I cynically previewed before they were even a commercial product. Dave was delightful nonetheless and gave me a complete and honest walk through of the benefits and limitations of the product.
As long as Joulies work as described (in a travel thermos), I can see a use for their intended market—of which I am not a part. Despite my skepticism, Dave gave me a set to take home. If I can discover any other useful functions, apart from a long commute or miserable days in a coffeeless office sipping from a thermos, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts.
One of the mornings, I also took part in a cupping of Robusta coffee, organized by Andrew Hetzel. I’d never tasted Robusta coffee apart from its use in bitter espresso blends, so I took the opportunity to try something new.
Overall, the experience was pretty torturous to my palette, but I was surprised by some of their sweet and intense aromas. Of the six coffees on the table there was one highlight, a Robusta peaberry, which was surprisingly pleasant—until it wasn’t.
Alongside the fully packed trade show hall, the United States Barista Championship and Brewer’s Cup were also taking place. After months of regional competitions, the most talented baristas from around the country were all competing for the chance to represent the US this week in Vienna at the World Barista Championship.
Katie Carguilo (who was excited to say the least) of Counter Culture Coffee won a very close barista competition and is currently competing in Vienna, along with Andy Sprenger of Ceremony, who won the US Brewer’s Cup for the second year in a row.
Of all the things to see at these gatherings, the most valuable part always ends up being the people. With the proliferation of Twitter in the industry, you can finally meet those you’ve been sharing advice and arguing with online throughout the year.
Jason Dominy greeted me with his infamous bear hug and attempted to convert my opinions of the Clever (sorry Jason, still unconvinced), while Keaton Violet kept me entertained and filled with beard envy. Joyce from Baratza was a joy to talk with, along with so many others. The list of people I met is long, but each person played a role in making the event another one to remember.
I’m looking forward to an equally great week of coffee and friends in Vienna. If you couldn’t make it to either event this year, make one of them a part of your 2013 plans—you’ll be glad you did.
All coffee aside, Portland is an absolutely incredible city to visit.
After a long day of back-to back AeroPress competitions here in Portland, a new World AeroPress Champion has been crowned—Charlene De Buysere from Belgium. Charlene’s triumph continues Belgium’s reign after last year’s win by Jeff Verellen.
All of the participants competed with the same washed Ethiopian Sidamo from Heart Coffee Roasters and following a passionate effort by the final two ladies, Charlene’s was decided to be the best. After receiving her trophy, Charlene thanked Alan Adler for inventing such a wonderful coffee machine and told him how excited she was about winning a ticket to the Nordic Barista Cup.
The runner up was Ingri Margrethe Johnsen from Norway who came in second place—followed by Emil Ericsson from Sweden, who came in third.
Congratulations to all the finalists and thanks to the organizers, judges and sponsors who made this the biggest and best WAC yet. Next year we’ll need bleachers as well.
There are several coffee events taking place this summer—but the NBC in August is the one I’m most excited about. Aside from the best Nordic baristas under one roof in CPH, everyone on this list above will be dropping knowledge on those in attendance. I toured the venue last week in Copenhagen and it’s going to be a certifiably fantastic event.
Experience the sparkling coffees of Kenya, explore processing experiments to improve quality at origin, unearth the agronomy of Kenyan coffee, get insight into the media’s coverage of coffee, get critical in your perspective of good service, find out the parallels of terroir and blending in wine and coffee, improve your understanding of extraction when grinding and brewing, discover what it means to run the world’s best restaurant and encounter the Nordic’s finest baristas in an invigorating new competition format…
Last weekend was the 4th and last regional Barista Cup of the year in Sweden. For this round, the barista competitions were combined with an all day public event called Coffee Feast GBG, organized by da Matteo and held at their roastery.
We have a simple idea with the event – to make it more public and more enjoyable for many more than just us avid coffee people.
The free event included a multi-roaster coffee lab in the morning and an evening party with food, drinks and live music. Best of all, they organized a Lunch Beat to warm up the crowd before the barista competitions began in the afternoon.
The first rule of Lunch Beat is everybody must dance.
The second rule of Lunch Beat is everybody must dance.
And so on…
For the first time on US soil, the World AeroPress Championship 2012.
Registration is now open for this year’s World AeroPress Championship. It will be taking place at this summer’s SCAA Event in Portland, Oregon between April 19 – 22. I competed in last years WAC and had a great time—this years will only be bigger and better. If you’re interested in competing, space is limited, so register early and often! Visit the official WAC website for all of the registration details.
After completing the fourth Coffee Common event in our first year, I’m really excited about the future of cC and specialty coffee as a whole. There’s an excitement and eagerness among consumers to learn more about coffee, the choices they have, and making it better at home. While every Coffee Common event has been a success for different reasons, our event in New York was without question, my favorite so far.
The space we used was a bright corner unit across the street from Highline Park called A Startup Store. It was just a few blocks from Chelsea Market and provided ample room for three bars, lit by a flood of natural light through floor to ceiling windows. Each bar had a different theme that introduced guests to new discussions and experiences around the coffees being served. After walking in and paying a nominal fee of $5, guests were handed a ceramic cup to use during their stay.
The first bar, Taste&, was an introduction to each coffee brewed in a V60. It was an opportunity for guests to try several coffees from different origins and roasters side-by-side, while talking with baristas about differences, thoughts, likes and dislikes. By the time customers walked away, many of them had experienced for the first time just how different coffees can taste from one another.
Everyone left this bar with a personal favorite and reasons why they liked it more than others—the sweetness, the fruitiness, the brightness, the balance. The tasting was far less intimidating than a cupping and more akin to an informal wine tasting. Guests lingered and chatted with baristas, or went back for seconds and thirds of their choice coffee. It was the central gathering point of the event and created a context for which the other bars could work within—that not all coffee is the same.
The next station was our Ingredients& bar. This stop fostered a lot of conversation, even among those who didn’t attend. The premise was simple, illustrate the effects that additives like milk and sugar have on two types of coffee—specialty and commodity. First, guests were given an unnamed commodity coffee to try black and then discussed what they tasted. Ashy, burnt, smokey and bitter were common responses. That coffee was then dressed with some milk and sugar and it transformed into a coffee that most people were familiar or comfortable with.
Next, one of the featured coffees were sampled in its unadulterated form. The unique characteristics of that coffee were then discussed and usually agreed upon as much nicer to drink in its black state than the previous coffee. Milk and sugar were then added to the specialty coffee, which reduced its complexity, making it less interesting and ultimately diminishing the qualities that made it special.
Although some still enjoyed both coffees with milk and sugar, most noticed the adverse effects it had on the flavor. The purpose wasn’t to say what was right or wrong, but once again illustrate that not all coffees are the same and discuss those differences. [Erin Meister, a barista who worked this bar, wrote a great piece about it on Serious Eats]
The third bar, tucked in the back corner of the space, was the place to go for hands-on demonstrations and personal brewing tips from baristas. Method& was the coffee equivalent of an Apple Genius Bar and my favorite of them all.
There were three stations where guests could chose the coffee and the brew method they were most interested in learning about. Baristas at this bar would brew a round with step-by-step instructions, answering questions along the way, and serve the resulting sample to everyone within reach. Next, the tools were passed on to guests who wanted to try it themselves, being guided through the process.
Seeing the look of empowerment and success on a persons face after making their very first Chemex or AeroPress was the most rewarding part of the event. When someone realized that with just slightly more effort than making EasyMac, they could enjoy much better coffee at home, it was a big win for everyone involved. Watching people leave with a smile on their face and—in some cases—all the equipment needed to brew coffee themselves, was a win for everyone in specialty coffee.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen and all of you who came out to participate (especially those who waited in line). If you haven’t had the chance to join us at Coffee Common yet, I hope that one day you will.
Coffee Common has officially begun! After spending the last 48 hours unpacking boxes, transforming our space and orienting a new team of baristas, we’re ready to roll. If you’re in New York between today and Sunday, this shouldn’t be missed. Come try some great coffee, learn a lot from fabulous baristas and see what I’m doing when I’m not writing here on DCILY. This page will be dormant all week, but follow along over at Coffee Common for live updates.
The doors to Coffee Common have officially opened to the public here in NYC and we’re really excited to share these great coffees with everyone. For $5, you’ll be given a ceramic vessel to use while you’re in the space to visit each of our bars as often as you’d like.
Each bar features a different focus on ingredients, method, and taste where you can discuss all the details of brewing a great cup of coffee and learn to enjoy the differences between coffee varieties and brew methods. We also have a Breville brew station where you can work hands-on with one of our awesome baristas to learn how easy it is for you to brew great coffee at home.
All of the coffees we’re brewing can be purchased at the store along with the brew methods we’re using and limited edition Coffee Common merchandise. Come say hello, taste several great coffees and learn something new from a great team of baristas.