In less than a week the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) will roll into town with all the hubbub of the United States Barista Championship (USBC). Uh, it's going to be a wild ride. A lot of these people are completely insane about coffee and espresso competitions so they're going to be intense, they also party pretty hard. Tonight I was helping Milstead with his comp stuff. Actually I'm just sitting and blogging, drinking bourbon, and giving him crap. This crassness helps I think.
"I can now make four espressos and four comp capps in five and a half minutes." He says with a wry grin.
"Huh... thats what she said... " I drink more bourbon.
I am intrigued by all the work he's putting into it, I like the idea of making a signature drink and the kind of class it puts on the work that we do.
"Shut up you stupid hole refrigerator!"
And then I hear that and watch him hump a steaming pitcher ... and know that the USBC is just a show, even though we both like coffee and what we're doing as barista's a lot, it's still just a show. And the SCAA coming here is all about money and if they say it's not, it's about bling. What I like about what Milstead's doing is he's bucking some of the norm - for these competitions - and talking about a single farm and using that coffee, another single farm and using their milk, and how what he's really doing is showcasing their hard work and making it more about them than himself. From what I've heard, a lot of the competitors do talk about their coffee's and where they came from, but not to the extent of who actually worked on it; the force of labor behind Milstead's competing is far stronger because names are given and someone can put a face to a name.
"It's one thing to read about a car accident, it's another to watch someone have an accident right in front of your face."
He's refering to the kind of coffee he's using - La Montana, from El Salvador. Raul's done an amazing job with his farm, holding these titles:
Cup of Excellence 2007: 1st Place (Pacamara)
Cup of Excellence 2006: 3rd Place (Pacamara, with Jose Montiel)
Cup of Excellence 2005: 5th Place (Pacamara)
Cup of Excellence 2004: 31st Place (Bourbon)
But while harvesting the 2008 crop a devistating storm came through and detroyed his farm, stripping trees of their leaves and berries, so he was only able to harvest a couple bags (about 300 or so pounds) before it was destroyed. Milstead is using this coffee partly because of the storm awarness, and partly because it's an amazing coffee, that coffee would be 60 dollars a pound. This is the cool part about the coffee world, helping out farmers from third world countries. All the sales that Kopplin's and the importer received have been sent to the farmer to tide him over untill 2010. I wish that were all of the competitor's goal, that the livlihood of third world peoples are increased by our efforts.