1. One of the most inspiring moments of camp was Peter Giuliano’s speech, proudly announcing that he is the first barista to become President of the SCAA. He stressed that baristas occupy an amazing position in the coffee industry. We are the last point of contact--where great coffees meet their final consumers. We are on the front lines of the specialty coffee industry and represent that industry to customers with whom we have the privilege of sharing beautiful coffees.
2. Leaving the bathroom on the first day of camp, I bumped into Chris Baca, who took 2nd place at the 2010 USBC. In some (deadly) combination of over-caffeination and celebrity sighting, I just sort of went for it: I practically grabbed the guy and shook him. I went on-and-on about how much I loved the Elida Estate that he had used at the USBC, and how we had served it a bunch at Comet Coffee and how much everyone loved it and blah blah blah. I think I creeped him out, but whatever, I met Chris Baca!
3. Seeing Vince Fedele talk about the coffee refractometer was really cool. We use one at Comet to supplement our taste buds frame of reference when we are tasting different coffees or exploring brew methods. Getting to talk with Vince after his talk was really enlightening. He was so nice and I really appreciate his scientific approach to coffee brewing. Everyone should understand the important difference between solubles concentration and solubles yield, and I can’t say enough about using the refractometer to better understand your product.
4. One of my teammates for the team competitions was Sean Kohmescher, Western Regional BGA rep. The second night, he and I made a run into town for some beer. We talked in his car about the structure of the BGA and how incredibly organized it has become, and how much work they put into it. Next time you see your BGA representative, hug and thank them; they work really hard for us!
5. Late that same night, I found myself in a conversation with Barista Magazine editor Sarah Allen, BGA executive council member Trevor Corlett, and coffee producer Aida Battle. We all romanticized each others’ positions in the industry but I couldn’t get over how amazed I was to be standing there. These people are so important to the industry; imagining a world without Barista Magazine, the BGA or Aida’s coffees is distressing. What an honor to have a drink in their company!
6. My Level 2 exam was a train wreck. The only other people in the completely silent room were coffee heroes Sammy Piccolo, Marcus Boni, and Scott Lucey. I was terrified! Scott was setting up to administer Sammy’s Level 2, and Marcus was grading me. My failure was apparent pretty early on, and I was so nervous that I couldn’t stop laughing. In spite of my shame, I left the room even more determined to earn my Level 2 certification. You haven’t seen the last of me, Marcus Boni!
7. I hope you’ve had the joy of seeing Jason Dominy’s video of Sammy, Gianni, and Ben dancing the last night of camp. We were all so excited about the last round of team competitions, and spirits were high. Everyone was crammed into one big room, and the music got cranked up. Everybody was dancing and being goofy. There was such a positive energy in the room and everyone was having fun. It was such a blast.
8. The closing ceremonies were bittersweet. The winners of the team competitions were announced and Level 1 certifications were handed out. I think over 70 baristas received their Level 1 that night, and it was cool to see everyone accept them with so much pride. The BGA council and SCAA staff worked around the clock to get all the tests graded, and some nights they went without sleep. I’m grateful for all the work they put into facilitating camp and administering and grading the certifications.
9. I rolled away from camp with my new friends, Jaymie Lao, Tom Baker, and Keith Mrotek. We stopped in Santa Barbara at a beautiful coffee shop called The French Press. A few of the staff had attended camp, and we met up with other campers from Cartel Coffee Lab and milked our final moments together. Jaymie, Tom and Keith dropped me off at the airport before their drive down to Los Angeles (for even more coffee adventures, of which I was jealous). I only got to spend a few days with them and the other baristas at Camp Pull-a-Shot but as I stepped out of the car I felt like I was saying goodbye to a car full of old friends.
10. I was afraid of missing my flight so I sprinted from security right up to the gate without putting on my shoes or belt. I rounded the corner and bumped into Jason Dominy and Daniel Thompson from Batdorf & Bronson who were waiting to board the same connecting flight to Denver. These guys had been really amazing during camp, and I had a lot of fun hanging out with them. Jason was already editing together some video he had shot over the last four days. We shook hands in Denver and parted ways, hopefully not for very long.
Today's Five Questions blog post features Sir James Fairbrass, a barista from the other side of the pond, now slinging coffee and espresso to NYC coffee lovers who visit Stumptown. He has a twin brother, a cool accent, and a love for coffee and baristas that's commendable.
1. You're originally from the UK. How'd you end up here, and how long have you
been in coffee?
I moved from London to Milwaukee, WI in early 2006. I moved for a relationship that, alas ended soon after I got there, and I just decided to stay. I've been working in coffee since 2007. I bounced around Milwaukee for a while, working at alot of cafes, looking for the right fit. Then I was offered an amazing opportunity with Stumptown in New York.
2. Who's your all-time favorite band?
The Clash. Without a doubt. They were the only original punk band that developed and changed. They never really fit the punk rock stereotype. I have the art work to my favorite Clash 7" 'Straight to Hell tattooed on my arm.
3. Have you ever played croquet?
4. Why are you a BGA member?
I believe in the community. One of the first things that drew me to this industry was the community. At all levels, from farm to cafe, and beyond. So many people sharing thoughts, idea's and techniques...all trying to improve things, one tiny step at a time.
5. Have you ever pulled a delicious shot of espresso using a single portafilter
basket and spout?
I have actually. Not in a cafe, but at home. A buddy of mine has a single group Rancilio lever machine in his kitchen. So whenever I'm down in Florida, I get to be the resident home barista.
The Barista Guild of America is currently seeking a new chapter representative for the Great Lakes Region. Please read the description below, and if you are interested in nominating someone or yourself, please contact BGA Chair Scott Lucey at scottlucey at gmail dot com. The BGA Excecutive Council plans to confirm a candidate by November 19th, 2010.
The Barista Guild of America Chapter Representative position is a year-long volunteer commitment for active members of the barista community. Baristas interested in the position should be enthusiastic baristas who have the time and resources available to make an active contribution to their regional barista community. Chapter Representatives serve as the Barista Guild of America's role models for their respective regions, and should serve with a focus on being a positive, committed coffee professional. The chapter representative position can be an exciting, dynamic opportunity for baristas wishing to pursue a more active role within the national specialty coffee community.
Regional Chapter Representatives shall:
SCAA BGA Executive Council Meeting (Required)
SCAA BGA Conference Calls (Required)
SCAA Barista Guild Camp (Required)
Regional Competition (Strongly Encouraged)*
Regional Jams/SBWs/Events (Strongly Encouraged)* *Or send a representative
Update BGA newsletter/website/social network platforms with timely event information and news from the region
Provide content for at least one BGA newsletter
Hold frequent chapter meetings to communicate with existing members, encourage new membership, and motivate and encourage BGA affiliated events throughout the region. These meetings can and should be held in conjunction with events that provide education and excitement for the barista community of the representative's region.
At least 8 hours of volunteer work at SCAA conference, SBW, or regional competition.
It is strongly recommended that volunteers interested in the position seek the commitment from employers to provide time or financial support for the position's requirements, or at the very least finding a suitable arrangement that will prevent conflicts of time or finances.
Rep example, Ben Helfen 2008-2009:
-Organized Thursday Night Throwdowns (counts as chapter meeting/event)
-Was an out-of-region USBC judge (volunteer hours)
-Helped Octane Host 2009 SERBC (attended regional competition)
-Updated personal blog of Atlanta coffee events (updates of timely information)
-Served as barista buddy at World Barista competition (volunteer hours)