twitchy

I’m a little behind on the updates today. I’d like to blame Tony for kicking out the power cord on my Mac while he slept on the hotel sofa last night… but it is more likely I should be blaming Nye’s Polonaise. (Though among the secret-life-pre-coffee tales of string cheese factory line work and carousel horse repair I’ve heard from my friends this weekend, Robert may take the award for entering the bar and exclaiming “That is a really nice accordion!”)

Let’s catch up on the rest of what I saw on Day One.

Nick Griffith (Intelligentsia, Los Angeles, CA) My notes are spare here: El Salvadoran coffee, some toasted sliced almonds are on the table. His signature drink is aiming at recreating bourbon via espresso and European butter, habanero jelly (!), syrup and orange zest. His performance is unsurprisingly Intelligentsia-polished, and the signature drink is promised to be “coffee up front with sweetness, orange, maple and sneaky spice.” I steal this off the bus tray and indeed it is buttery and that spice is rather sneaky. Not bad.

Justin Teisl (Alterra Coffee, Milwaukee, WI) is also working the faux-liquor angle: his Espresso Manhattan is back with grape juice working for vermouth, and a fresh jar of maraschino cherries — I believe the old one may currently be rotting in a car in Brooklyn somewhere?

Justin starts off telling the judges that he’s competing not just because of his love for coffee and for his job, but because he loves what competition does for the industry. Right on.

Teisl is always really positive and well-spoken and smooth in his verbal presentations — I realize that during competition is usually the most I ever hear him talk. He serves his espresso shots and describes them as having a “pudding-like” body (!).

(I’m enjoying watching Andrew Barnett judge, by the way. Sniff. Look into cosmos. Ponder. Sniff. Taste. Look into cosmos. Also — is he the only one too cool to be required to have to wear the SCAA apron while judging?)

Teisl calls time at 15:00 and in the postgame interview explains that back in Milwaukee the Alterra crew trains for competition together. “You can only give yourself so much constructive criticism. And it gets lonely.”

Brett Walker from Zoka is up next, he uses “Games Without Frontiers” as part of his music. Yes! Barista competition without frontiers! Extreme.

Back in the periphery of the competition, megablogger Zachary begins following me with an improvised steadicam.

“I just want to see what you do,” he says. What I do at that moment is go dig under the Alterra table and look in my bag for a schedule to see if I have time to go to lunch before shooting the next competitor I want to cover. I don’t. Weird energy bar it is.

Adam Palmer (Paradise Roasters, Ramsey, MN) is using opera music in his routine. Awesome.

Kyle Glanville (Intelligentsia, Los Angeles, CA) wins the quote of the day award for “what once was maple has now become butterscotch.” Outside in the halls, the convention center fills with preteens in sexy sparkling leotards. Apparently there is a girls aged 5-10 dance contest going on next door called Starpower. Rumors that Jay Caragay has abandoned his USBC slot to podcast live from that competition instead begin to circulate wildly.

I’m thinking now how weird it is to go to regional competitions and eventually these preliminary competitions and how it’s possible to see the same competition routine over and over again and what the differences or similarities are. I think this is my fourth time watching Scott Lucey (Alterra Coffee, Milwauke, WI) do this routine and he’s still not referencing Brett Favre, but he is on a rather spectacular and heroic mission to educate people on the difference between ice cream and custard. Today we learn that custard was not originally cold until “someone froze it!” And thus began a midwestern legacy of “something people a lot of people are really proud to partake in.”

Lucey is still not as boisterous and confident as he was at the Great Lakes, but the music loosens him up by cappuccino time, and I notice him actually purging his steam wand to the beat. Totally in flow. Good times. He finishes early at 14:17 and has a little room left for small talk. I try Lucey’s signature Colonel Custard again in the back, and the Colonel has never tasted so good.

Chris “Defurious” Deferio (Carriage House Cafe, Ithaca, NY) is next — I’ve seen this routine a couple of times as well, and it’s unsurprisingly solid and woody. His tulip rosettas look great, and I understand he’s tried to change up his espresso from what he used in the Northeast Regionals and changed the name of his signature drink from “A Walk in the Woods” to “A Walk to Remember”, in tribute to the Mandy Moore film.

I’m out and in the hotel pool in short order. Intelligentsia and Cafe Imports are hosting parties this evening, but more importantly. Hotel pool!

2 Responses to “USBC 2008 Day One Part Two: What once was maple”

  1. Chemically Imbalanced (espresso-jogged screeds) » usbc: chip shots

    […] * noted: that spasmodic girl is playing all five scaa bloggers to a draw, when it comes to value added. i mean, we’re talking vigilante justice here. “solid and woody” indeed. also, “pudding-like body.” and: like a lake minnetonka purification ritual! secret sauce: the hotel pool? […]

  2. chris deferio

    UHHH….Mandy Moore? hmmmm.
    I’ll have to rent that one…
    (cough)

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