time flies when you take poor notes. scott lucey of america’s dairyland was the third competitor of the day saturday morning. his routine is comfortable and openhearted, centering around the nelson melo colombia cauca coffee that alterra has been so proud of. melo was in the audience, and though he probably didn’t understand a word scott was saying, the coffee brought its own message.

scott started his routine with plenty of time to talk about nelson melo, encouraging the judges to smell some of the bean samples he had put out, and then grinding a little fresh for each to smell again. wu tang moved into animal collective and as usual, it was hard not to dance.

then comes lucey’s signature drink: liquid swords. a shot of the melo espresso pulled into the bottom of a tall shooter-style glass, and then topped with hand-whipped cream piped in with a pastry bag. then sealed carefully with honey. and topped (we’re on the fourth layer now, follow along) with fresh texas red grapefruit juice, to bring out that sweetness and grapefruitiness within the coffee. judges are told to drink the suspended juice first, then use their spoons to make a channel through which to take the espresso (don’t gotta drink the cream).

while preparing liquid swords, scott explains his interactions with melo over the past few days, and how much rich pleasure nelson must take in being hands-on with his organic coffee farm, finca las acacias, and how with his family nelson is connected to this beautiful coffee and its production, from touching the soil to wielding the machete. scott isn’t going to wield a machete at the judges, but, he warns them: “this drink is my machete.” no layers collapsed, and everyone drank their liquid swords, making it nearly impossible for me and tech judge zak rye to get the tastes we were trying to sneak off the bus tray.

mike phillips from intelligentsia followed scott, sampling the judges a chemex of bolivia, some of which he set aside in a vial for later (you know, like preserving your own sperm!) and stored on ice. mike did a little dose-shifting, upping it for the cappuccinos to bring the coffee more forward, and explained his extraction choices to the judges. sig drink is awesomely conceived: two halves of an espresso shot isolated (18 seconds pulled into one vessel, the last 10 seconds into another) and each of those components put into different parts of the almond-cream, sage, blackberry and chemexe’d two-stage beverage. but disaster a little: mike cuts his shots too early rather than shifting his little square dishes, and has to re-pull. we’re done with plenty of time to spare though and kid looks great as always.

his colleague at intelligentsia’s broadway store, talya strader shows up a bit later in the day with one of the best performances i’ve seen her give, and a signature drink involving figs, brown sugar, mascarpone cheese and rosemary. she’s followed not long after by madcap coffee’s trevor corlett who in describing his signature drink, uses his right hand to explain where the cherries come from in michigan in relationship to their cafe, dairy, and so on. YES! mitten map for the win!

over at the coffee fest intelligentsia booth, nicely pulls me one of the most delicious coffees i taste all weekend, a single-origin guatemalan from the la maravilla farm. if his coffee is that good when he’s hung over, i’ll have to visit southern california one day when he’s had a night’s sleep!

(and you’ll have to wait a minute for the finals recap, it’s breakfast time.)

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