Last Week With Ben Blake: Week Of April 20th, 2013

Last Week With Ben Blake: Week Of April 20th, 2013


Ben Blake continues his service as our fabulous Sprudge intern – check out more of his work at

On Boston…

This past week has been an unthinkable one for the people of Boston—no words or actions can erase the unfair amounts of pain, fear, and confusion taken on by an entire city. Times like these bring to light the worst in people, and show us what happens when lives become warped and perspective is lost—but these moments also reveal the best in humanity, and gives us a reminder of things that are truly important. When you strip away all the junk we get tangled up in, it’s a little bit easier to appreciate the things we do have, and to see the commonalities that lace together humanity.

On the day of the attacks, just one day after SCAA ended and coffee folk from all over were headed out of Boston, our colleague and friend Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America penned these words at Boston’s Logan Airport:

“We have much to appreciate, much to celebrate and much to overcome. In spite of it all, I remain convinced that reason can overcome fanaticism, that dialog trumps violence, and that most enduring of all, love will always outshine hate. Bless you all wherever you find yourselves today and thank you for all the positive energy you generate.”

You can read more of Ric’s words here, and share your own Boston experiences in the comments of that post. We love you, Boston.

Baristas! Brewers! Champions!
No introduction needed. Here it is…

Your 2013 United States Barista Champion is Mr. Pete Licata!

Power Pete (hailing from Kansas City’s Parisi Coffee) is arguably the most seasoned, experienced barista competitor in US competition history—with 7 career USBC appearances, two USBC victories in the last three years, and a second place WBC finish in 2011. Mr. Licata performed with the poise and confidence of a true professional, and emerged as the victor in a seriously talented field of baristas.

More from our coverage:

“…in a way it’s poetic that Pete won. Mr. Licata *is* the USBC – he is its past, its present, and surely its future as a trainer and advocate. There’s just one thing he has left to do, and that’s win the whole dang thing [in] Melbourne. We can’t wait to watch what happens next.”

Mr. Licata wasn’t the only one “brewing” up a winner at SCAA 2013…

Your 2013 Brewer’s Cup Champion is Mr. Erin McCarthy!


Mr. McCarthy is a technician at Counter Culture and won using a double-kettled, pulse-brewed, medium-coarsed brewing method that highlighted the Gesha variety. You can replicate the brewing method at home thanks to these instructions, straight from the mouth of McCarthy. Once again, more from our coverage:

“Mr. McCarthy hopes to bring a team of New York City baristas to Melbourne for support, and when asked if he’ll bring the same level of creativity, determination, and drive to the World Brewers Cup in May, he quipped, “I’m gonna square it. I’m gonna times it by three.”

Congrats to both champions!

Be sure to check out the incredible photography from Mr. Charlie Burt in our roundups of all the semi-finals and first round competitors (Day One and Day Two).

Sprenger wins USAC
This may have been the first Brewer’s Cup that Andy Sprenger didn’t win, but it’d be silly to think he’d leave SCAA without some championship of some sort. This year, he took home first place in the US Aeropress Championship. Check out his method here, and watch this industrial-instructional video we put together of the winning routine!

Awesome Stuff from the SCAA Showroom
Our own Alex Bernson was everywhere at this Year’s SCAA event covering the latest product releases, the sexiest espresso machines, and the inside scoop on all the latest and greatest. Read all about it in these features from our own staff writer Alex Bernson – Espresso Eleganza, 5 Sexy New Products, and Showroom Tech Update – plus look for more in the coming days.

A Chat With Young Barista
Holy smokes! Can you believe the world’s youngest competing barista is turning 18!? We caught up with Mr. Callum Hale Thomson in a very special interview.

Baristas Be Gettin’ Paid (?)
Hey if you’re a barista, we’d love it if you’d take a minute to fill out this brief, four-question survey on barista wages. Share it with your friends, too! We’ll share the results in June! Also I figure my Editors will appreciate me using this time to re-embed that RuPaul song they’re obsessed with.

Intelligentsia Tea embraces “Kilogram”     
With the recent re-opening of their original Chicago Broadway location, Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea has dropped the “& Tea” portion of their name and spun that aspect of their operation off as an entirely separate entity called “Kilogram Tea.” More from a Kilogram Tea press release:

“Since the very beginning, tea has been an integral part of Intelligentsia, sharing the same devotion to freshness and quality as our coffee program. While Intelligentsia’s pioneering work in sourcing, roasting and brewing has become increasingly renowned, the tea has not enjoyed the same exposure. To remedy this, Intelligentsia Tea is being rebranded as Kilogram Tea.”

Sprudge had it first! Read the full feature here.





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