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Last Week With Ben Blake – Week Of October 2...

Last Week With Ben Blake – Week Of October 26th, 2013

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Big week here at Sprudge, and in the coffee community at large. If you haven’t been paying attention, Sprudge has been splitting its time between Milan, Italy and Minneapolis, Minnesota to cover the biggest events the coffee industry has to offer. We’ve got the hottest product debuts, the most reflective look-backs, and the most comprehensive Big East Barista Championship guide. Here’s the last seven days of coffee news here on Sprudge, all in one spot. It’s like a whirlwind trip across the coffee world, only you’re just sitting in your home reading about it.

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Big Central Event GuideMinneapolis is a great city—or so I’ve been told. This weekend, it’s playing host to the Big Central Regional Barista Championship, and there’s loads going on. We’ve compiled all the competitor schedules, events, and guides you need to figure out where you need to be this weekend, and to make it easy to follow along at home.

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The Very Best From Day One At Big Central: We’ve got the very best live Twitter coverage from #BIGCENTRAL, culled from our @SprudgeLive Twitter feed, in a nice ’n tidy recap. There are photos from Charlie Burt, notes from the Sprudge Editorial team, and summaries of each competitors routine. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Parent’s Guide to Barista CompetitionsWe all know it can be a bit difficult to properly convey the excitement and importance that surround a barista competition like Big Central—it’s not the easiest thing to convince your parents that what you’re doing is a big deal. That’s okay, though, because did the dirty work and rebroadcasted our popular “Parent’s Guide” on the eve of Big Central. Just give your parents this link and let us do the talking.

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Our Uninhibited Look Back at La Marzocco Out of the Box: You may have noticed from our coverage that there were a few coffee things going on in Milan this past weekend. Sprudge.com’s fearless leaders Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen were at the HOST exhibition all week taking part in the WBC All-Stars event and bringing you a slew of newproduct firstlooks. Meanwhile, our own Alex Bernson was just across town with our partners at La Marzocco, emceeing and covering their Out Of The Box event. Here’s Alex’s look back on the entire thing—presented without restraint.

Speaking of Milan…

There were gobs of awesome product debuts from folks like Nuova Simonelli, Sanremo, La Marzocco, and Illy last week. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be surprising if you missed a few of them. Here’s a quick run down of the hottest new coffee gadgets debuted last week in Italy:

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388 Black Eagle Espresso Machine: an alpha concept prototype of the 388 Black Eagle from Nuova Simonelli Brand “Victoria Arduico.” T machine has two key notable features, the first being its striking aesthetics.The second key feature, and the most exciting, is the Black Eagle’s built-in gravimetric weighing system, incorporated directly into the grate above the machine’s drip tray. The gravimetric capabilities of the Black Eagle are designed around individual load cells, stored inside the machine and mounted within the drip tray grates using a simple and easy to remove latch. The design of this machine was developed in concert with James Hoffmann, 2007 World Barista Champion.

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Caffè Firenze:  a new extraction technology from La Marzocco and Illy that uses a combination of compressed air and a standard espresso machine pump to extract espresso at 20 bar with a partially-sealed high-pressure brew chamber. The resulting shot has an intense amount of super light and silky crema, and the claim is that it produces more sweetness and emphasizes the aromatics.

Clima-Pro Grinder: A temperature-regulating grinder developed by James Hoffmann, Colin Harmon, Fritz Storm, and Gwilym Davies – four accomplished barista competitors, three of whom have been World Champions. The goal of the Clima-Pro is to offer a grinder that is easier to operate consistently, reduces waste, creates even particle distribution of ground coffee (with a nice, fluffy appearance), and runs cool and silent. A short little summary won’t really do this grinder justice—check out the full story here.

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Dosamats: A product collaboration between UNIC and Mahlkonig that features magnetized portafilters and communication technology that allows the Mahlkonig K30 to read the magnet and dose coffee accordingly.

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The Opera Espresso Machine: A brand new machine from San Remo developed with the help of UK Barista Champ John Gordon. The Opera features five individual insulated boilers, three for each group head plus a steam boiler and a pre-heater that circulates water over the top of each group. Those group heads feature six fully customizable presets, activated via a set of three buttons. Setting adjustability includes the revolution of the gear pump, control over volume, and the option of two different flow rates.

Opera is also fitted with a load cell, built directly into its drip tray, displaying of the weight of the beverage made from one of Opera’s groups. Like all the settings, the weight is displayed on an LCD screen built directly into the group head. All the relevant information for the barista is directly in front of him or her, and the machine’s ergonomics have been carefully considered as well. You can, for example, engage the steam want using a switch that toggles in 360 degrees, helping to ease the strain of repetitive movement. The lever itself is an up and down movement, which Mr. Gordon and his team felt made for less wrist strain than the side to side movement found commonly on paddle groups.

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London’s Bulldog EditionIt’s not all Barista competitions and Trade Shows in Sprudgeland—we’ve got a look at Bulldog Edition, a brand new cafe in London’s Ace Hotel from Michael Cleland & Victor Frankowski. This beautiful and minimal cafe creates a sense of space while still featuring great equipment and functional space.

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Liz Clayton & Leif Haven Join Sprudge: Big news here in Sprudge land, as we’re excited to announce two new additions to our growing international writing staff. First up is Liz Clayton, who will is joining Sprudge.com as our New York City staff writer. Ms. Clayton steps in for Alex Bernson, who was promoted to a travel-heavy Assistant Editor position at Sprudge on back in early September. Liz Clayton is a familiar voice in these parts. Liz is also, of course, a published author, and she’ll continue to write her popular column series over at Serious Eats: Drinks. Liz Clayton’s contributions to our website have long been editorial favorites, and we’re excited (and more than little humbled) that we’ll be able to feature her byline much more regularly with our readers.\

Next up, meet Leif Haven, who’ll be serving as our first-ever Bay Area desk writer. Mr. Haven lives in Oakland, a city he documented in this well-received city survey from earlier this month. Leif also has the distinction of being the very first journalist to publish photos and details form inside Andrew Barnett’s Linea Caffe, scooping everyone from SF Weekly to Eater in the process. Originally from Wisconsin, Mr. Haven is a veteran of the Madison and Chicago specialty coffee scenes prior to moving to Oakland, where he now writes for SF Weekly and HTMLGIANT. His is a rapid succession to a staff position with Sprudge, which speaks volumes about how promising and professional of a writing talent we consider him to be.

Ben Blake is the genius behind Draw Coffee (@DrawCoffee), a working barista at Peregrine Espresso in Washington DC,  and a regular contributor to Sprudge.com. Read more Ben Blake here!

 


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