Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Livin' the "Life"

So we finally solidified a name and a face for our Polish Barista Network: "Barista Life." Helka created a logo and a Facebook page. We are adding things like Discussions, Photo Albums, and an Events page. It's our goal that through this Fanpage, Baristas all over Poland will be able to keep up with events, parties, gatherings--anything for coffee people. Right now, there are big events like the September Barista Competition in Poznan and Filtry Coffee Fest recently, but there aren't many Throwdowns, Spro Downs, or just casual coffee gatherings (especially outside of Warsaw) for Baristas to meet each other and hang out. So, this is us trying to get that ball rolling. (The photo is of coffee shop owners hanging out at Black Coffee Nights). We are here to promote everyone's coffee events in the hope that more and more people will start coming! If you want to check out the lastest in Barista Life happenings, click here. See you soon!

The Journey continues...

Putting one foot in front of the other here in Poland, gotta love it. We were so inspired by the cuppings at the Nordic Barista Cup that we decided to host our own cuppings here in Poznan. We started the first one with a lecture and a casual cupping of 5 coffees (we'll probably take this down to three or four next time). We're calling them "Black Coffee Nights." It was a huge success. At least 30 customers come (most of them late :). I spoke to the crowd for about 50 minutes (I was planning for more like 20-30 but I underestimated translation). My topic was a seed-to-cup kind of thing with a little time for fun stuff like Kopi Luwak and Solar Coffee Roasting. After the talk, we cupped 5 coffees from Java Coffee Company from all over the world--including an Indian, which I had never tried. Everybody was excited. Several of our staff reported great conversations had by customers. And even the news camera showed up. (This one is a shot of Helka being filmed at the bar.) The next Black Coffee Night is scheduled for January 14th and it'll be great! Glen Gregory from Java Coffee is our guest speaker. In from Warsaw, he's probably going to enlighten us with tales of his recent trips to Rwanda and Ethopia. Stay tuned.

Nordic Barista Cup 2010

For those of you who didn't have the time, energy, or resources to attend the Nordic Barista Cup 2010, you really missed out. Opening night, J and David of Intelligentsia introduced us to the competing barista teams at the Kaffa mixer. There, some of our staff (including myself) met Bjornar, one of the roasters there. He told fabulous stories of roasting for the Queen of Norway and vicariously for Obama on his recent visit to the Olso royal family-cool. From day one--George Howell's talk on Specialty Coffee--I was hooked. We cupped at least 40 coffees during the 3-day event and sampled several more. One of the most interesting activites was the chemical tastings hosted by Paul Songer. The solutions also included various combinations of tastes so that the participants could detect such combinations in the cuppings that followed. And, boy, were there cuppings! Even though the event was over 100-plus people, cuppings were hosted at least three times a day. We cupped coffees with defects--or was that the clean cup?--we cupped SO coffees with different roast profiles (and roast dates), and coffees from numerous acclaimed roasters. In case you were wondering, there was a tasting involving Tim Wendelboe roasting the same coffee 4 different ways--the audience doing the tasting was to try to guess what the different roast profiles were like. The trick of it was that 2 of the coffees-which tasted drastically different-were roasted identically. When Tim announced that the only difference between the two was the roast date, everyone in the room GASPED! As it turns out, one had been roasted 7 or 8 days before the tasting and one had been roasted only 2 days before. Never in my life have i witnessed such an emotional reaction from so many people over a roast date. Overall, our entire staff had a great time on the trip. If you love learning about coffee, get out toCopenhagen for the 2012 Nordic Barista Cup--it's totally worth it, promise.