This year at Coffee Fest, Batdorf & Bronson® Coffee Roasters was busier than ever. We had two booths to maintain, two days of Barista Competition action and lots of friends to greet. The first booth was our Single Origin booth where we featured our favorite coffees of the moment – Kenya AA Kaiguri (Nyeri), Sumatra Lake Tawar, Panama Esmeralda (Caballeriza), Guatemala Finca el Valle (Antigua).
For the acidity lovers, we had our Kenya Kaiguri, and for the chocolate-bomb lovers, Guatemala Finca el Valle. We got pretty geeky with our brewing methods, finding Hario’s last available single halogen Beam Heater for our Cona siphon. The red glow from the bulb housing drew passers-by like moths to a porch light. Our Chemex brews were unmatched, and, we got a La Marzocco GS3 for the espresso side of things, on loan from our dear friend (and GS3 chief engineer) Bill Crossland. Thanks again, Bill. We partnered with our dairy provider Medosweet at their booth, pairing our Dancing Goats espresso blend with their voluptuous milk. Aimes and Meredith, baristas at our downtown Olympia stores, graced us with their uber-talent, impressing everyone from the most discerning coffee snob to the passive observer with perfectly texture lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos (styled with beautiful latte art, of course.) There were a few of us who had to run between stations and the concurrent Northwest Regional Barista Competition, including Brittany Newhouse, Batdorf & Bronson's® NWRBC competitor. When she wasn't working in the single origin booth, she charmed the judges and audience with her awesome competition routine. I filled the role of sensory judge for the Saturday’s preliminary and Sunday’s finals.
The competition was stiff, and there were three competitors from Olympia’s lively coffee scene, two of whom made finals. All of the finalists used single origin espressos, a testament to the belief that a coffee can be so well-prepared and cared for at every step along the production chain that it can stand alone as a full-bodied, complex and satisfying espresso. Brittany had a good first competition, and though she didn’t make it into the finals this year, she got tons of great feedback from the judges and enough encouragement to compete again. Keep an eye out for her and be sure to congratulate her next time you see her. The winner was the Northwest’s perennial competitor Billy Wilson. He wowed the judges with his prowess, passion and concept, opting to offer the judges their choice of espressos from three different roasters. The US Barista Championship will be held in Anaheim, California this coming April, so stay tuned! There were tons of great toys to talk about, but I must be brief. Topping the list: the JetSteam in-counter espresso machine, the Mypressi Twist hand-held espresso machine, and of course Synesso’s latest pressure profiling experiments were mind-blowing.