This Five Questions post is featuring Will Frith, Trainer for Batdorf & Bronson in Olympia, WA. He's very active in working to create a better barista culture around his area, and assists in SCAA labs as a Station Instructor. He's also a cool musician, and his cat has her own Facebook page. Need I say more?
1. Why are you a BGA member?
One word: Access. Access to a network of people who obviously care about providing good coffee, good service and community. It's like an online forum, with a real-world focus.
2. I hear you're a musician. Tell us about your band, and tell us who
your favorite band is.
Like most music-players in Olympia, I'm in a few bands and can't quite limit myself to one favorite band... Wisdom Teef is a mathy-droney-hardcore three-piece I play bass guitar for while Batdorf's web designer, Forrest, plays guitar and sings (more like talk-sing-yell). We just released our first full-length album on 10-inch vinyl, which I'm geeked out about. The Long Mornings is on the other side of the music spectrum - mid-tempo, psychedelic, fuzz-pop. I play noises on the guitar and sing backups while Forrest plays rhythm guitar. My partner, Kelly, writes the songs, sings and plays Rhodes Piano, and our buddy Matt plays drums. No releases yet, but hopefully soon! My favorite band of the moment is Lower Dens, from Maryland. They're such subtle shredders, and Jana's voice is like butter, sultry butter.
3. What is your favorite coffee of all time?
It's a close battle between Kenya AA (Nyeri-region coffees, specifically) and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (washed, please). There was a Yirg we had about three years ago that blew my mind, but it's been hard to match since ECX (maybe next year, says my crossed fingers).
4. What are ways you can work in your area to help build a better BGA
Events! Nothing like a little friendly competition to spark the flames of passion. Latte Art Throwdowns are a great way to get momentum started, as the judging is obvious to all attendees and it's easy to bring out everyone's competitive side. But ya gotta change it up! Doing the same thing every month will only get you so far... Last week, we had Olympia's first Manual Brewing Battle, which brought all sorts of folks out. Not just coffee people, but foodies who were intrigued by the concept. Also, get out there and try everyone's coffee! Sounds like a given, but difficult to do regularly, especially if you spend most of your week in one shop. Sometimes the last thing we want to do is go somewhere else and drink more coffee. Just getting into other places helps to foster a sense of community. After all, Guilds have historically been a way for competitors to get together and help one another improve their lot, from labor rights to idea-sharing/developing.
5. If you could have any car in the whole world, what would it be?
A Mini Cooper, so I can give it to Jason Dominy. I like station wagons, but I really like riding my bicycle.
I'm here with the rest of the BGA EC for a weekend of finishing up the details for camp, finishing up Level Two certification, and coming up with some other unique ways to continue to bring value to BGA membership. We're meeting at El Capitan, the site of Camp Pull-A-Shot, outside Santa Barbara, CA. Can I just tell you what we've already experienced here since getting here late yesterday? Awesome cabins, campfires with S'mores, chicken-fighting in the pool, great conversation and debates on current espresso trends, and mad coffee brewing with some of the best roasters in the country, using most of the manual brewing methods. (And this is between us writing exams, lab content, and membership items!) And this is just the tip of the iceberg when we look at what the real camp will contain.
Cutting edge content. The latest thoughts and ideas about coffee and espresso. Great events that help baristas become an even better part of the community. Level One and Two Certifications. Amazing coffee and espresso. Bike rides to the beach. Campfires. Singing songs. Doing dances. Making a little....love. coffee love. You need to be here. Just trust me. This place is awesome. The baristas who are gonna be a part, even more awesome.
Refer 10 baristas, get $500 back!
But, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to save even more by referring your fellow baristas or, if you're a cafe owner, sending your whole staff. If you refer 10 attendees, who register and pay, you will be given a $500 credit on your registration!
Here's how it works:
• Tell your referees to enter your name as instructed during the registration process online
• Only one referral per paid attendee
• Once you achieve 10 paid attendees, Marcus Boni will send you the credit or discount code via
Need help, have questions?
Just call us! We're here to help if you have questions. 562.624.4100 or email us at email@example.com.
This Five Questions blogpost features Portland, OR barista, Alex Helfen. He's currently slinging espresso and taking names at Common Grounds Coffee House there. He's had the honor of living in both Portlands, and is an avid cyclist. He's also a BGA member. Here's his five questions.
1. Is it true that there's a shortage of coffee in Portland?
Hmmm...I used to live in Portland, ME and now I am in Portland, OR. So, if you are referring to Portland, OR then the answer is absolutely not! If you are referring to Portland, ME then my answer is still absolutely not! There is plenty of great coffee in Portland, ME. The market is not as large as the big cities but as the old saying goes, it's quality and not quantity that counts. There are independent businesses (Coffee By Design, for example) that have been in the Portland, ME area for years purchasing and roasting excellent coffees. What is new and exciting is the spike in enthusiasts roasting their coffee at home. Specialty coffee is still relatively young in that neck of the woods so it's exciting that there are so many people starting to experiment on their own. On another note, Bard Coffee in the Old Port hosts latte art challenges that happen once a month. Anyone in that area should check it out!
2. What coffee has you excited about specialty coffee lately?
It's not contemporary, but I love the story behind coffee from Bali. I specifically love the Kintamani. Most of the land used to grow coffee was destroyed in a volcanic eruption about fifty years ago. Through community and government assistance, Bali was able to make a comeback to the coffee world and I couldn't be happier that their hard work made it happen! It's a fantastic cup of coffee.
3. What is your favorite video game character?
I have to go with Samus Aran from the Metroid series. First of all, we didn't even know that Samus was a woman until the game was over and her identity was revealed. That was a "WHAT?!" moment in a good way because I would have assumed Samus was a man. She made me think about video game heroes in a totally different light. Plus, her suit is the bomb and she goes into battle alone and totally fearless. Who couldn't respect that?
4. Are you any relation to barista whiz Ben Helfen, from Octane Coffee in Atlanta?
No, but it would be a compliment if I was related to him. It's funny because Helfen is not a very common last name. Perhaps we are distantly related.
5. What's your favorite food truck in Portland?
Los Gorditos on the corner of SE Division and 50th, bar none. You will get so much bang for your buck that it'll knock your socks off. So bring an appetite and an extra pair of socks.
The shops are all over Atlanta and include: both Octane Coffees, Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, both Aurora Coffees, drip Coffee, Land Of A Thousand Hills Coffee, Parkgrounds, REV Coffee, and Element Coffee. The roasters represented include: Batdorf & Bronson, Counter Culture Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, Stumptown, Land Of A Thousand Hills, and 1000 Faces Coffee. People are already showing great excitement for the card, and BGA members are doing a great job of promoting not only the card, but great handcrafted coffee and espresso.
Amazing Judging, including local chefs and coffee professionals.
Lots of fun.
Community Dinner directly afterwards.
1. Is Jeremy Sterner really Superman?
No, because that would imply that there's a kryptonite that would diminish his superpowers.
2. What's your favorite music to barista to?
Most of the playlists on the shop ipod? Ryan does a really excellent job of creating those, so I usually just hit play. Crystal Castles is probably a shop-favorite, though. Turn that on and there's no espresso I can't dial in, or line I can't conquer. And there'll probably be a dance party behind the bar to boot.
3. What's your favorite coffee origin, and which particular one?
This is the same sort of hedging answer that everyone gives but, really: it changes. I'm still getting a feel for what I really like and it's more than a little shameful that I don't spend more time with individual cups of coffee. I can tell you what I don't like, but I know that someone will make me a cup tomorrow that will prove me totally wrong.
4. What's your current mode of transportation?
City bus. There's nowhere the bus can't take me in, around, and out of ONC. And I never have to worry about parking.
5. If you could make coffee for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you make them?
I'd make Slavoj Zizek (the philosopher) a cappuccino. Because I'm sure that between the espresso, milk, and latte art there's a metaphor for Marxist struggles, or the irony of capitalism, or maybe just a quip about, "what is this thing in my coffee?"
The first annual BGA Camp-Pull-A-Shot is only a few months away! What are you waiting for? Registration is now open, so don't miss out on your chance to get level 1 & 2 certified all in 2 and a half days!
$550.00 for BGA members
$750.00 for non-BGA members
BGA membership is only $45 dollars....save yourself 200 bucks by joining!
Includes the following:
-Lodging (quad occupancy)
-All meals (not alcohol-sorry it's B(uy)YOB)
-Roundtrip Airport Transfer from LAX only
-All courses offered -yes ALL COURSES offered!
-Barista World Cup Team Competitions
-Jam Time with Instructors
-Social time...need we say more?
Get Seriously Certified:
-Exploring Manual Brewing Methods and Extraction
-Entering the World of Barista Competitions
-Beyond the Beverage‐ Exploring the role of the Barista as a true service professional
-BGA Level 1 and Level 2 Certification Tests
-CP 101, 102, 151, 202, 203, 204
This Five Questions post features the incredible Emily Oak, a BGA member from the great country of Australia, living in Sydney. She heads up training and development at Australian Independent Roasters. She's no stranger to the coffee industry, and most have seen her smile at competitions all over the world. Showing the diversity of our membership, including home countries, you can see just how far we've come, and how far we've still to go at the same time. Cheers to the Aussies.
1. Why are you a BGA member?
It’s nice to keep up with what is happening globally – and you have to be in it to win it so to speak; if you’re not involved then you can’t help or change or really have any right to complain or influence what is going on. It’s also an interesting comparison to what we’re trying to do with the Barista Guild in Australia too. The T-Shirt you sent me was too big though....
2. Who would win in a mixed martial arts fight: Mike White, or the guy who recently stole all your crap in Europe?
No doubt about it – MW all the way. His ninja skills are deadly.
3. You've had coffee from all over the world. What's the best coffee you've had over the past couple of years?
Best espressos – Mike Phillips 2009 competition coffee – (Rwandan Maraba?!) I was lucky enough to taste post Atlanta when we visited Intelli at Silverlake in LA – and more recently the Guatemalan Giesha used by Raul Rodas in London – that was an extraordinary espresso coupled with a very skilled barista.
More generally for filter – Intelligentsia’s recent Rwandan Bufcafe was stellar as well as just about every coffee I had in Oslo last week! (Thanks to the Tim’s Wendelboe and Varney.) Ooh, and Bolivian Cup of Excellence #7 for 2009 just landed in Australia, I’ve been drinking that all week.
4. What's the difference between the coffee culture in Australia and the culture in the US or UK?
The short answer is Australia is 100% espresso (outside of the home) you don’t get drip or filter or anything if you go out for coffee except espresso – so the general public are quite aware of the full espresso menu and what goes into it. That doesn’t mean that it’s all good coffee (far from it) but to date we haven’t had access to a whole genre of coffees that are more suitable to other brewing methods – until recently.
5. Have you ever thought of pulling shots from a Mypressi while on a surfboard? Think you could pull it off?
No, and no! I can sort of surf – but I’d rather a V60 or syphon any day.
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