Welcome to Sprudge.com’s recap coverage of Day Two from the 2014 Big Central Regional Barista Competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sprudge.com’s coverage of this event is made possible by direct support from the event’s hosts, Cafe Imports, Wilbur Curtis Co., and Nuova Simonelli, whose Aurelia T3 espresso machine is the competition standard machine of the 2014 US Barista Championship cycle and the 2014 World Barista Championship. We are proud to serve as official media partners of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, who put in the long hours to create and execute these extraordinary events.
What follows is the very best live Twitter coverage from #BIGCENTRAL, culled from our @SprudgeLive Twitter feed. All photos are by the talented Charlie Burt (@tiger_friend) for Sprudge.com. This our third season covering the United States Barista Championship season – thank you, to new readers and longtime followers alike, for your support and appreciation of our ongoing competition coverage.
Mr. McCaslin competes using a coffee roasted by Evocation Coffee Roasters – Finca Santa Marta – learn more here and shop from home! In a cappuccino this coffee tasted of “a wonderful cherry, some chocolate, and caramel.”
In general we've been impressed with the Texas competitors here at Big Central – Mr. McCaslin's showing wonderful composure and conservation of movement on stage.
Sig drink: pomegranate, cardamom, apple honey, poured into brandy snifters atop a candle and paired with espresso. Mr. McCaslin has selected brandy snifters for sig drink “because they do wonders for aromatics.”
Gotta love this quote from Mr. Buehrer on his espresso aromatics: “I think of wild flower honey or dried rosepetals – just call me romantic or something.” For flavor, it's “baker's chocolate and strawberry.”
There's a running dialogue throughout
@greenwaybarista‘s routine – verbally engaged with judges the whole time, coming back to a central conceit in which every step of the chain – producers, roasters, baristas – are themselves artisans, akin to blacksmiths (for which Mr. Buehrer's cafe in Houston is named).
A couple of interesting techniques in this routine – leftie cappuccino milk pours, one-handed Aurelia T3 purges…a lot of little movement conservation details from Mr. Buehrer.
Sig drink: strawberry & hibiscus tea consommé, yogurt, espresso.
Ms. Brady competes using a Kenyan coffee – aiming for 19% extraction in her espresso course, “slowed down for a longer contact time,” yielding “a very balanced shot of chocolate, cherry, and orange zest brightness.”
Deceptively simple capp notes: “malt, sweet chocolate, with a very soft mouth feel.”
This routine is like an infosession on Kenyan coffee standards and practices. Ms. Brady's is a Kenyan AA Top lot – “the highest of the 7 Kenyan coffee grades” – processed at the Karimukuri “factory” in Central Kenya. It'll be available to the public via Blueprint Coffee in the next month.
Sig drink: lime tea spray, blackberry juice, dried cherry reduction, hot water – “This is an amplified, exaggerated version of my espresso.”
Mr. Fischer competes using a natural processed Ethiopia Worka roasted by
@StoneCreekCoffe – “a bright blueberry sweetness, right on the front of your tongue, with a subltle honey undertone.”
Great detail on cultivation in Ethiopia – “”this coffee was grown in clay soil which makes it incredibly difficult to cultivate.”
Sig drink: San Pelligrino, fresh mint leaves, a cane sugar simple syrup, and blueberry reduction.
Mr. Schornagel competes with a
@kaldis_coffee from the West Valley of Costa Rica – “lime juice, cherry sweetness, grape skin dryness in the mouthfeel” as espresso.
Mr. Schornagel's capp notes: 24 grams in, 32 seconds, notes of butterscotch.
Two distinct sig drinks here from Mr. Schornagel – identical ingredients, different ingredient ratios – lime juice, vanilla muscovado simple syrup, and melted ice (controlled dilution).
“Remember the first time you tried a natural? You thought you had a good palate, because the berry jumped out.” – Brian Ensminger, Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.
Smart details in this routine – carefully chosen details on Ethiopian coffee cultivation and water usage, complimented by pouring the judges' water from a glass Chemex.
Capp notes: “strawberry shortcake, baker's chocolate, and a decadent vanilla taste.”
Sig drink: a soy lecitin dairy-free “cocktail foam” w/ vanilla bean – chilled espresso, plum simple syrup
Quoted in his exit interview: “If loving naturals is wrong, I really don't want to be right” – Brian Ensminger, Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.
Mr. Mrotek is perhaps the most visually arresting
#BIGCENTRAL competitor: orange jeans, yellow gingham shirt, enormous ear gauges, and yellow dreadlocks in a bun.
Mr. Mrotek competes using a
@dogwoodcoffee from Huehuetenango, Guatemala – “a washed, pretty classic Guat” – it tastes like “tart cherry and a warm spice, cherry bark” in his espressos and “”vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg” in his caps.
Serves the judges a complex signature drink that includes East India nutmeg and Ceylon cinnamon.
Mr. Kegley competes using a naturally processed Ethiopia Nekisse – espressos taste of “jasmine, black berry, and white peach.”
“A cappuccino is a wonderful, glorious, synergistic conglomerate of steamed milk and espresso” – Bryan Kegley.
“As my math teacher wife would say, aroma perception and viscosity are inversely related.” -Bryan Kegley
Such a smart routine here from Bryan Kegley – an honest 15 minutes, a reflection of what it's like to get up there and communicate under pressure. Unexpectedly this wound up as a Sprudge staff favorite routine from Day Two at Big Central.
Sig drink: chilled espresso, mint, “like a girl scout cookie”, carbonated with a Co2 charge.
Mr. Rovenstine competes at
#BIGCENTRAL using @OddlyCorrect‘s El Roble Lavado, from Costa Rica's Tarrazu region – a fully washed coffee grown at 1700-1750 MASL and processed at the noted Rio Jorco micromill.
Mr. Rovenstine's espressos: “a nice earthy character in the aroma, orangey citrus punch, molasses sweetness, red wine dry finish.”
Mr. Rovenstine's capps: “maple syrup, a nuttiness of almond, and a very nice caramel.”
His signature drink is called “Untitled No. 3” – comprised of orange oleo saccharum, panel, fresh sage, espresso, and clearly influenced by the Kansas City cocktail scene. “This drink is meant to be sweet, refreshing, and clean.”
Mr. Replogle competes w/ a Sumatran coffee – “graham cracker, toasted marshmallow,& milk chocoalte” in his capps.
Steve Replogle uses milk from the Kilgus Farmstead for his capps – learn more: http://www.kilgusfarmstead.com
Mr. Replogle's sig drink has espresso and pu erh tea – hey, pu erh is really good! that sounds
#deloshes right now, frankly.
Capp flavor notes are “vanilla and glazed donut” – OMG glazed donut, how good does that sound right now? I mean really.
“I have a passion for coffee, but I love furthering my palate development & delving into taste itself.” – Jonathan Miller, MadCap Coffee Company.
Mr. Raub starts his routine by stating “I'm not really sure what dialing in espresso means anymore” – he then proceeds to drop a great deal of knowledge on roast times, extraction ratios, particle distribution…
Sig drink: juniper berry, sweet orange peel, 4 strands of lemongrass, infused together – then adds a drop or two of tomato water and two kinds of honey (Himalayan and buckwheat). He's using this mixture to dilute his espresso, essentially construction an Americano with flavorings.
El Sal Los Bellotos tastes like “peach cobbler” in Mr. Becken's capps, made with
#KCMO local dairy milk.
A huge cheering section here for Mr. Becken, the rare competitor who can unite the KCMO / St. Louis cheering contingent in the room.
Mr. Comerford's Brazilian coffee comes from Fazenda Sao Domingos – learn more here, bring some home – as espresso, it tastes like “cigar and smoking wood, with balance and sweet acidity.”
Capp notes: “a hint of smokiness…a sweetness like that of a raisin, nice and subtle.”
To the sound guy: “Don't be afraid to turn it up a little bit.” To the judges, and perhaps himself: “I'm gonna go pull these shots and then we're really gonna get down.”
Signature drink: toasted coriander seeds and vanilla, freshly ground into espresso by dint of Mr. Comerford's “pump n' grind” spice mill. (Because there ain't nothing wrong…with a little pump n' grind.) From there he strains his shots, adds ice & half & half, shakes, and tops with just a little bit of whipped cream for texture.
Mr. Piva competes using a Kenya Thiriku coffee, which he presented as having “blood orange” flavor notes and “a mild herbaceousness” throughout all his courses – as a cappuccino it was “blood orange, mildly savory and finishing with milk chocolate.”
You'll notice in the photo up above that Mr. Piva is using a MACAP Dynamometric tamper in his presentation. They're into gear and tools at Sump Coffee, which Mr. Piva expounded on a bit more in his exit interview, mentioning that they're also home to an Alpha Dominche Steampunk.
Sig drink: blood orange reduction, fresh basil tea, & his
@sumpcoffee Kenya – a kind of exaggerated version of his espresso, with blood orange and herbaceousness at the forefront, literally, in the form of actual herbs and real-life blood orange.
“I want to share with you that wonderful, magical, frustrating thing we all love so much – espresso!” – Esther Versteeg.
Ms. Versteeg competes using a blend of Coffea's Ethiopia Yirg and Ethiopia Geana Abaya. You can learn more about Ms. Versteeg's Ethiopia Yirg ECX by clicking this link.
Ms. Versteeg's espressos: “Fruity aroma, citrus mellowing into spicy berries, cinnamon, blueberry, lingering grapefruit.”
We were very impressed today with both routines from the competitors out of Sioux Falls. Coffea have competed in the past, so it's not a surprise, really, but still – both Ms. Versteeg and Bryan Kegley flashed as really smart and technical competitors, at least from the audience perspective.
Almonds, dates, cinnamon in Ms. Versteeg's sig drink, heated on stage in Hario siphons; music references for Ms. Versteg's capp notes: “Milk takes this coffee from a bright soprano to a deep, rich baritone.”
Espresso notes: “Ginger notes on the cup, lemonade acidity, velvety body, and a finish that's tart like a strawberry.” Capp notes: “vanilla and lemon pound cake”, made with milk from Michigan's own MOO-Ville Dairy (a Sprudge livetweet favorite, for obvious reasons).
Sig drink: strawberry & rosemary, muddled; espresso; ice; shaken, strained for a “cold, cocktail-style beverage” – then a 12 hour cold brew, charged with CO2, and added to the strawberry / rosemary / ice mixture.
“You can reinvent yourself with quality at the forefront” – Matthew Scott. This narrative is near and dear to the folks at Lemonjellos – read more about that reinvention, including their decision to start serving fine coffees from MadCap Coffee Company and HalfWit Coffee Roasters, in this Sprudge article from last July.
Probably the smartest thing we said all week on Twitter: “Hey uh if you make coffee professionally you should probably be watching this.”
“I'm chasing espresso. I've been chasing it for the last three years. Today I want to tell you what I've learned.” – Mike Marquard
“We're living in a world of underextraction. It's a world I believe we can be free from.” – Mike Marquard
Mr. Marquard weighs the portafilter and weighs the espresso vessel for every shot – rare in competition. He's so natural and comfortable with the Nuova Simonelli T3, as well – and so was his fellow Blueprint Coffee competitor, Nora Brady. We knew going into this weekend that these two would be competition contenders, and they have not let us down.
Mr. Marquard's sig is a coffee Ramos Gin Fizz – egg white, cream, espresso, orange simple syrup w/ clove shaken, with espresso and the addition of star anise tea. Say it with us: #deloshes.
Photos by Charlie Burt for Sprudge.com. Follow @SprudgeLive for Twitter play-by-play from Big Central, and all the US Barista Competition events leading up to the World Barista Championship 2014 in Rimini, Italy.