Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.
Watch live as baristas compete for U.S. title in Anaheim
Posted by Melissa Allison
Watch live video from usbcscaa on Justin.tvWhoever wins this weekend will represent the U.S. at the World Barista Championship in London in June. The U.S. has yet to win the world championship, which last year went to Gwilym Davies, the London barista whose disloyalty card inspired Sarah Dooley to start one in Seattle.
Preliminary competitions begin today for the U.S. Barista Championship, which is part of an annual coffee trade show by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Justin.tv and Seattle-based Sprudge.com are covering the show, which typically includes great video of latte art and other barista skills. Winners of regional barista competitions get to skip to the semi-finals, which happen on Saturday, and finals are Sunday. The Northwest regional rep this year is Andrew Milstead of Urban Coffee Lounge in Kirkland (also on the disloyalty card, by the way). He actually took second place in the Northwest this year, but top winner Billy Wilson bowed out. Wilson recently opened a shop in Portland called Barista -- or BARISTA -- where the Northwest's third-place winner, Laila Ghambari, works. She used to be at Urban Coffee Lounge in Kirkland and is competing in Anaheim, too.
Other folks at the coffee show include Seattle-based (but Italy-made) equipment maker La Marzocco, which will let baristas try out its Strada espresso machine, which has not officially launched. The Strada lets baristas adjust water pressure, which sounds like the Seattle-based Slayer to me, but I'll do a longer post later explaining differences.
Coffee Kids, a non-profit based in Santa Fe that works to help coffee-growing families, is holding a contest you can enter online until 5 p.m. Saturday. Entry comes with a donation, and first prize is a Behmor 1600 one-pound coffee roaster donated by Behmor, of Nevada, plus a Mypressi Handheld Espresso Machine -- also known as the Twist from Mypressi -- and $25 worth of free coffee from Visions Espresso Service of Seattle. That's where Sarah Dooley (of the disloyalty card) used to work. Sometimes you need a flow chart to grock the coffee connections.
Update: That video stream is spotty. It cut out this morning just as Ghambari was about to compete. An alternative is Twitter -- folks following it listed here -- although no one appears to be tweeting this morning's event.
Update Sunday: Mike Phillips of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea -- the guy who paid his own way to last year's U.S. Barista Championship in Portland -- won the U.S. title today for the second year in a row. Three of the six finalists were from Chicago-based Intelligentsia, which resembles the Yankees a lot more than its hometown Cubs.
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