Last Week With Ben Blake: Week of January 19th, 2012

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Ben Blake is Sprudge.com’s weekend news intern, illustrious illustrator, and temporary Italian. Follow him on Twitter and learn more about his art at Draw Coffee.

Green doodle of the #XtremeKone Contest, inspired of course, by the once-popular soft drink “SURGE.”

#XtremeKone Contest - A contest is afoot! We’ve teamed up with our good friends at Able Brewing on a contest of the most xtreme nature. Able needs your help finding the perfect Kone brewing recipe. Submit your favorite recipe (text format) alongside an extreme and creative picture of your Kone in action—make it wild, wacky, and unforgettable. Hashtag your submission with #XtremeKone by January 31st on Instagram. Don’t have Instagram? That’s ok—email us at IDoNotHaveInstagram@sprudge.com and we’ll add it to the eligible entries.

The contest is open worldwide. Grand prize for North America is a gold Kone, Baratza Virtuoso and Estatto Scale combo, ceramic KONE Brewing System, Hario Brewing scale, Fino Kettle , roundtrip flights to Portland, two nights at the Ace Hotel, and $1,000 cash (you read that right). If the winner is outside of North America, the grand prize will be a Gold Kone, Baratza Virtuoso and Estatto Scale combo, ceramic KONE Brewing System, Hario Brewing scale, Fino Kettle , roundtrip flights to Portland, and four nights at the Ace Hotel!

Good luck!

Big Central Regional Barista Championship - We’re pleased as punch to be covering the event thanks to the generous support of Kaldi’s Coffee, PT’s Coffee, and Nuova Simonelli. Folks from the heartland have swarmed Kansas City for 3 days of world-class barista talent and world-class barbecue. The final round concludes on Sunday, and the winner gets a spot in the 2013 USBC in Boston (and instant celeb status).

If you haven’t been following along already, check out our live twitter feed (@SprudgeLive) for the very best in Live Tweet coverage from your Official Digital Media Sponsors. We photograph and tweet every last competitor at these events – Day 1 recap here, Day 2 recap here!

In related news…

Cafe Imports Going to Kenya – Minneapolis-based Cafe Imports have announced that the 2013 Origin Trip will take place in Kenya. They’ll be taking along all 6 United States regional barista champions, the USBC champ, and the winner of 2013 World Barista Championship. This is an amazing opportunity, and is icing on the cake for these baristas. We’re humbled and grateful (and beside ourselves) to be going as well. If you needed any extra incentive to compete this year, this is it. Huge thanks to everyone at Cafe Imports.

Sprudge + World Coffee Events - Huge news for us here at Sprudge this week—we’ve been named an Official Media Partner of World Coffee Events! WCE is the governing body that puts on the World Barista Championship, along with other great specialty coffee shows. This is a professional dream for us, and we couldn’t be more excited. For years we’ve served in an unofficial capacity at the WBC, and we’re thrilled to partner with WCE to cover their world-class coffee events. Stay tuned for even bigger and better Sprudge coverage at upcoming WCE Events!

Good Food Awards – Congratulations are in order! For the last two years, the Good Food Awards have honored some of the nations best food producers and farmers in nine different categories—one of them being coffee. Your 2013 winners:

Here’s a bit more from the GFA:

“The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced. We grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients. We host an annual Awards Ceremony and Marketplace at the iconic Ferry Building in San Francisco to honor the Good Food Award recipients who push their industries towards craftsmanship and sustainability while enhancing our agricultural landscape and building strong communities.”

Real Talk: Barista Health in the Workplace Part III - Alex Bernson concluded his series on Barista Health with a look at coffee, caffeine, and the health effects of each. Bernson offers up statistics, research, and interviews to help open up the conversation within the industry on how we can improve it. We invite you to read through the third and final (and extremely important) part of this series—thanks to Mr. Bernson for his amazing work, and for being so transparent and passionate about this topic.

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Video-of-the-Week: Barista PrepFest Pop-Up Video – We teamed up with Laila Ghambari (Barista Guild NW Chapter Rep), a team of certified barista competition judges, and a few sponsors to put together a series of competition preparedness events. Audiences in Portland and Seattle watched as Laila G. Amd Sarah Dooley performed live 15-minute routines, followed by an interactive judging process. PrepFest helped give transparency to the usually closed-door Calibration process—we were extremely pleased with the entire event. Thanks to all involved.

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Bonus Video-of-the-Week: What’s Cool About Coffee? – The SCAA Symposium released a video this week answering the question: “What’s cool about coffee?” Wrecking Ball Coffee‘s Nick Cho led a panel featuring Oliver Strand, Julie Wolfson, and Melissa Allison to find out. The video will be released in six parts, and portrays why the symposium is such an important event each year. Take a look!