1. You've seen coffee change a lot over the past 10 years. What has been the best change you've seen happen?
I think the best change that I have seen happen is the growth of the barista community. Yes, there are more people involved in the SCAA events but it also seems like the BGA and local barista gatherings are more frequent. Folks are dedicated to their craft - pushing the job as barista further and we are well on our way to transition the role of the barista into a profession. Plus, the coffee tastes better in more places we go now!
2. You've judged barista competitions for a number of years. What is one thing you notice that baristas consistently could improve on in barista competitions?
That’s a difficult question because I think the barista’s who compete push their skills and their interpretation of the rules and regulations all the time! I think its key for folks to fully understand what those rules are that they are evaluated against and be prepared for new environments and mishaps that may come your way.
3. Drip brewed coffee or espresso?
Depends on the day! Often both.
4. What is your favorite charity and what do they do?
I have been a longtime supporter of an organization called Garden Raised Bounty or GRuB. They do a number of amazing things all working with at-risk youth in the local community. They are dedicated to securing good food for all people and have a goal to have Thurston County to be hunger-free. They build gardens for low-income people at their homes and apartments giving them the opportunity to grow and share their own food. They have a 1 acre garden in the city of Olympia where they employ teens to grow food while supporting the youth to get on track to graduate from high school and grow, personally, through working on the farm, with the crew and interacting in their community. There are several organizations like GRuB around the country – you should check in your community. (www.goodgrub.org)
5. Folks don't know, but you're a great dog trainer, and even compete in competitions with your dogs. What's that like?
That’s true J – it’s what I do for fun and in “my spare time”. I offer training classes based in 100% positive reinforcement and science based methods. It’s fascinating to see the affect this kind of training can have on the dog and owner. It not only creates desirable behaviors but a long lasting relationship with your pet. I also compete in dog agility with one of my dogs, Rowan. The time I spend training and competing is the only time when I don’t think about work! There’s no room to do both and be good at what I need to do in that moment. But, believe it or not, there are a lot of cross-overs between my job in coffee and my dog training life.
El Salvador Cup of Excellence Party!
El Salvador Cup of Excellence Party!
Cafe Imports and the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) have joined forces to celebrate this year’s Cup of Excellence coffees. Cafe Imports will be hosting public cuppings for the upcoming auctions. We will give a brief background of what the Cup of Excellence program is and how it has played an essential role in the quality coffee movement and start and ongoing discussion on these excellent coffees.
To celebrate the new World Barista Champion of El Salvador, Alejandro Mendez, Cafe Imports will host a COE cupping on Friday June 24th at 4:00pm. We will cup the best microlots from El Salvador and following have an open barista jam and latte art throwdown afterwards at 6 PM. To finish off the day we will bring in delicious Salvadoran food and beer!
Our Synesso and Robur will also be stocked with Single Origin Espresso from El Salvador.
This edition of Five Questions features Mike Strumpf, formerly of Allegro Coffee, now with the fine decaffeinating folks of Swiss Water. He's a super nice guy, who makes everyone laugh, and knows his way around coffee. He judges in barista competitions, and licensed Q Grader. Take it away Bob.....
1. You've recently joined the team at Swiss Water. For folks who don't know, can you explain how that process works to decaffeinate coffee?
The Swiss Water Process removes the caffeine of the coffee through the use of water that is full of the soluble solids in coffee (we call it Green Coffee Extract, GCE) minus the caffeine. When you put coffee into the GCE you don’t lose any of the other, non-caffeine soluble solids because they are at an equilibrium with the solids in the GCE. What does get transferred into the GCE is the caffeine from the beans. After the GCE is full of caffeine, it is run through carbon filters that selectively filter out caffeine and leave the other soluble solids still in the GCE. After the GCE has its caffeine removed, it is recycled through the process to decaffeinate more coffee. Once the carbon is saturated with caffeine, it is re-activated to a caffeine-specific geometry in a furnace and used again to filter our more caffeine.
2. Beer or Liquor? What's your fave?
I have really been enjoying cocktails recently, so for now liquor. St-Germain is always in season!
3. What coffee trend do you wish would go away?
The way that we communicate with industry colleagues isn’t always the best way to communicate with customers, so my hopes are for people to stop using cupping table descriptors to communicate coffee flavors to customers. A coffee described as under-ripe lime and Rio Star grapefruit pith might be more relatable to customers as citrusy.
4. If you could own any car, what would it be?
I’m a sucker for gull wing doors, so the upcoming Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-cell would be acceptable.
5. You're known as a jokester. Tell us a joke.
What type of headache isn’t yours? Migraine! (A migraine is also the answer to: What do you get if Mike tells you too many jokes?)
Sensory Science by Paul Songer (Cup Of Excellence)
The ability to objectively analyze product attributes and consumer preference is of immense value to any company. This class prepares participants to conduct sound sensory tests and to analyze data and statistics of sensory evaluations. Specific topics include test design, types of tests, test selection, product testing and the special considerations according to product and market segments. Students will also learn how to take the mystery out of statistics used for sensory testing- how to use statistics for selection, to determine pass/fail evaluations, and standard deviation. The sensory science procedures used for some non- coffee food and beverage products will be also be reviewed.
Roasting Workshop by Chris Schooley (Coffee Shrub, Sweet Maria's), Nolan Dutton (Ozo Coffee), Vajra Rich (Boxcar Coffee Roasters)
We will demostrate the differences of roast development, roasting the same coffees to the same roast degree but with different roast times. We'll then cup the coffees to see what effect roast length has on the cup. Cupping is usually done at least 24 hrs. after roasting, but what we are trying to see as far as roast develpment goes will be evident in the cupping.
Brew Method Workshop by various shops working together: Everyday Joe's, Ozo Coffee, Little Bird Bakeshop & More!
Coffees roasted to 3 different roast levels will be brewed on various brew methods around the room. We'll be able to taste what roast profiles lend themselves better to certain brew methods. You will dig it.Followed by free beer and a latte art rodeo. Yeehaw!!
I personally was very excited to see the results from this year’s survey. Not only because what you told us you want are exactly the things we as an Executive Council have been working towards for the past year, but also because this past year has marked the advancement of many new things for the BGA and from what you said, you've noticed! The most exciting part is the huge level of agreement between the membership of what is needed and wanted from the Guild. This is exciting for us as Executive Council members because now we can focus on how to do what our membership is asking for, rather than spending time wondering what our membership wants.
In summary, over 60% of the respondents said consistently the reasons they joined and what they want from the BGA are...
1. You want to connect with like-minded baristas.
2. You want access to information and coffee education.
3. You want to promote and support the craft of the Professional Barista.
I was so excited to see this become a recurring theme in the survey because it confirms the direction that the Executive Council has been working in for the past 2 years. In that time, we have developed three levels of certification, two of which are fully enacted, and we launched our annual Camp Pull-A-Shot in October of 2010. The ideas behind these programs were motivated by the sentiments listed above. The BGA certification program now has twelve 3-hour classes dedicated to the barista profession. With Camp Pull-A-Shot, we now have an event to connect with the Barista community, and to learn at the same time. So where do we go from here?
In the year ahead, those of us on the Executive Council are thoroughly excited about where we are positioned. We feel that the groundwork has been laid, and we are ready to continue building something that will be a remarkable force in our industry. To give you a glimpse of things to come, I thought I’d share with you some of things we’re planning for this upcoming year:
Formation of Regional Chapter Committees - Each Chapter Representative is now recruiting interested members to help support, and foster community in each of our 10 regions. Interested? Contact your Chapter Rep. to find out what you can do to help!
Membership Involvement Opportunities - Want to be involved with planning Camp Pull-A-Shot, BGA events at SCAA, or other BGA activities? We want your ideas, energy, and passion. Please contact an Executive Council member about what you are interested in doing.
Camp Pull-A-Shot 2011 - We will be returning to El Capitan Canyon October 24-27 for this year’s event. This year we are excited to bring you new certification classes for level 3, and a new slate of prominent guest speakers, and challenging topics. Not to mention 4 days with 150 of your best friends in the coffee industry. If you missed Camp Pull-a-Shot 2010 visit the archives on our blog / facebook page. You’ve got some catching up to do!
For the next few months the majority of the Executive Council’s energy will be going into the 3 initiatives mentioned above, along with 2 other big, exciting projects we are not quite ready to announce yet. We are excited about the year ahead, and growing together with you. Remember we are all working together to promote, respect, and support the craft of the professional barista.
If you were unable to fill out the survey and would like to provide feedback, please email or call your Chapter Representative or an Executive Council Member. You can find the information on the contact us page of the website.
Vice Chair, Barista Guild of America
Samuel Brown, aka Sambo, aka DJ Sammy Boy, works for Alterra Coffee. He's also an acclaimed DJ, and lover of beer, as most folks are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I mean, you know they named their baseball team the Brewers, right? He attended Camp Pull-A-Shot with the rest of the Alterra Posse, and is a great barista helping to push forward great coffee culture up in the Great Lakes area. He also wouldn't admit it, but he's a heck of a nice guy. Enjoy his questions.
1. Who would win in a fistfight? Sambo or Rambo? Are you sure?
Rambo from First Blood would defiantly win. If it was Rambo these days..... tough, I would think I would come out on top. The truth of the matter is I am a lover not a fighter. In ether case it would end with the two of us sharing many brews (both coffee and beers).
2. Favorite book you've read in the past 10 years?
I love to read comic books but I will not count those. My all time favorite book is The Hobbit. When it comes down to my favorite book of the last 10 years, it is going to have to be Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. In short Michael talks about the evolutionary relationship between humans and four different plants (Apples, Tulips, Marijuana, and Potatoes). While reading Botany of Desire I wished Michael would have wrote another chapter about coffee. I think it would have been a great addition to the book. If you have not read any of Michael Pollan's books I highly recommend them all, check it.
3. What is your favorite manual brewing device? How do you use it?
The Hario Woodneck with Hario kettle. I use about 23-25 grams of coffee and 350 mL of water.
4. You work with some great people up there in Milwaukee. What is the greatest thing you've learned from them?
The greatest thing i have learned from Scott Lucey is how to pour "SICK dope-ee-oo-s". Just kidding, SL hates that saying. The greatest thing I have learned is to be aware of ALL your variables when brewing coffee, and control as many as you can.
5. What is the best memory you have from last year's Camp Pull-A-Shot?
It was all TONS of fun...but my favorite memory was rocking the cafe bar for my team. A close second would be Ben vs. Gianni vs. Sammy dance off.