that one? that one might also be very hard to beat.

i’ve been thinking for a day or so how watching good barista competition routines is kind of like seeing a band you love perform an album you know they’re only going to perform on that tour, or that night, in a way you’ll never get the chance to see again. and maybe you have to be a real big geek to like watching barista routines multiple times, but you know what? if you get to watch scott lucey, you might just look forward to seeing him do his thing again and again.

scott really believes in the beauty of nelson melo‘s colombian fincas las acacias coffee, and somehow managed to tell us and the judges so much about it all while working in machetes and worms and stalagtites and a battery-fan and so much other crazy ridiculous zany shit that is so much in another league of charm than serving espresso lobster bisque or whatever.

despite the 40000398432 degree temperature of the oregon convention center (or maybe it was just all those people CROWDING around scott’s routine, i swear i had to body check seven or eight other photographers i never saw before or after he performed), lucey pulls off a tremendous version of a routine i’ve seen three times already now, and it’s somehow more enjoyable with each go. he serves espressos, “the best interpretation” of his coffee, and then cappuccinos, “the easiest interpretation”. liquid swords are raised again, and the judges are warned “a molecule of sweetness” will pass from the honey into their mouths. his measurements are almost as precise as the intelli kids, and i can’t conceive of how someone can remember where to place all their jokes and stories and information and still remember how to make and serve drinks all at the same time.

that said, the start was shakey, and as i stood with justin teisl and ben helfen watching scott expound delightedly about his coffee for more than three minutes without serving any drinks or remembering to pour the water, each of us nearly tore one another’s hair out. when scott finally realizes he’s missed this step, it’s still smooth: “I didn’t want you to get distracted by drinking the delicious water while I was talking about the coffee,” says he. Ha and ha!

Post-15:00 banter with morrissey is like watching a smart-ass comedy showdown. liquid swords and shots of melo espresso are dispensed (there’s mumbling in the press box that using cleanup time to serve drinks isn’t within the letter or perhaps spirit of the real rules, but god knows it’s better than watching nothing happen or having a fashion interview for twenty minutes while judges make decisions in the finals) and it’s just as easy and silly as 500 people hanging out with scott in his kitchen or something. this feels good, and, i think, reminds everybody why we’re here in coffee land to begin with.

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