Every time I tell myself I’m going to opt out of blogging about a coffee-making contest someone goes and names a drink the “Grasshoppiato”. Good lord!

Welcome to Chicago.

The Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition is in my hometown again this year. Look for signature drinks made with coconut milk this weekend, along with what I call the “McDLT” style drink (two-stagers with the hot side hot and the cool side cool) and an unnecessary amount of saucer-stackage (my, your espresso is tall!)

I showed up early Friday with Jenny and Emily from America’s Dairyland, in time to watch (hardest-working!) emcee Heather Perry needle our friend Scott Lucey about the “Alterra Curse”, which if Justin Teisl wins Millrock this morning he will, according to her, actually prove. Good gravy, Heather! Give the kids some slack…

My favorites of the day in brief:

San Francisco’s Justin Teisl competed for old time’s sake out of region.
You should have seen the judges drinking out of the cat-tail glass port sippers in sequence. They were such obedient judges, so nice. The Misty Valley Justin used was tremendous. Yum! (He also pandered to the region in his “Come on Feel The Illinoise” shirt, aw yeah.)

Jesse Crouse from Intelligentsia, well, he’s a poet. Of course he’s super eloquent and inspiring in talking about his coffee. An excellent performance with a maybe-risky “…now hold this spoon in your mouth” instruction for taking the sig drink in sequence (pistachio cream!). But an awesome first-time showing from a great barista.

Parris Graves (Boston Stoker, Vandalia, Ohio) brought his own composition of guitar-noise-drone for his competition soundtrack (H. Perry later: “So, are you…a musician?”) and spoke in an almost funeral-director tone throughout…and it was kind of fantastic. Also: waxed moustache.

Sarah Wilson-Jones of outer Cleveland’s Phoenix Coffee dresses in bonnet and purple tights and no shit named her sig drink after her daughter Veronica, and it was all about garlic. Whoa! She also used Sinead O’Connor’s “I am Stretched On Your Grave” as music. Lady is intense.

Colin Whitcomb rocked some Milwaukee magic in a totally frenzied-awesome delivery of Nelson Melo’s fantastic coffee from Colombia. Oh, and did he happen to HAVE HIS PRODUCER THERE IN THE AUDIENCE TOO? Yeah, okay. In Canada we’d call you a keener for this. Look for Nelson again on Saturday, as well as a live feed linked from

And yes, I got out of the Metropolis party unscathed by the Ugly Mug.

Got to get to Navy Pier, it’s snowing.

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