Barista competitions: more please

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This past Saturday, I was invited to be a judge at the Mock Barista Competition held at Pikes Peak Brewing Co. as part of Colorado Springs Craft Week

According to participant Eric Harry Nicol of the Principal's Office, our town's baristas haven't staged an event like this locally (something more in the realm of big national events like the barista competition at the  U.S. Coffee Championships), though we have had plenty of latte art throwdowns

And let me be the first to say I want to see more of these ... lots more ... often, please. Which is to say I had a blast and love the format of the friendly battle. 

Basically, each barista (going one at a time) highlighted an individual coffee varietal inside of 20 minutes, making a clean espresso shot, then a cappuccino, and finally a specialty drink of their choice to highlight elements of the bean.  

Urban Steam Coffee Bar's Seth Fuller showcased a Sumatran bean from the village of Aek Nauli in the Lintong region, which he roasted a week prior. In particular, he advised us to find marshmallow and orange zest aspects in the flavor. 

Bevan Cammell of Colorado Coffee Merchants roasted an Ethiopian Mokamba coffee, aiming to highlight sweet raspberry notes up front, a fairly bitter middle, and a clean lemon finish. 

Nicol worked with a Ugandan bean roasted by Switchback Coffee Roasters, again hitting on both orange and lemon characteristics. 

All competitors performed strongly, and fellow roasters in the audience (whom we passed our samples to after sipping) agreed that the trio kicked ass, proving just how good our coffee scene has gotten thanks to Third Wave fundamentals. 

I could go on ... but instead, here's a look at some pics from the day, which hint at the artistry on display. 
Cammell puts a vacuum brewer to work to extract tannins from grapes for his specialty drink. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Cammell puts a vacuum brewer to work to extract tannins from grapes for his specialty drink.
Nicol finishes his specialty drink round with gusto. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Nicol finishes his specialty drink round with gusto.
An elegant setting is part of the comp. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • An elegant setting is part of the comp.
Nicol looks on with members of the coffee community, including Wild Goose Meeting House and Peak Place Coffeehouse faces. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Nicol looks on with members of the coffee community, including Wild Goose Meeting House and Peak Place Coffeehouse faces.
Fuller pours his specialty drink, which includes heavy whipping cream for big body. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Fuller pours his specialty drink, which includes heavy whipping cream for big body.
A magnanimous moment among competitors. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A magnanimous moment among competitors.
Proprietor of Florence's The Pour House Coffee Roasters, Kenneth Paul, demonstrates with his mobile roaster. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Proprietor of Florence's The Pour House Coffee Roasters, Kenneth Paul, demonstrates with his mobile roaster.

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