Twenty-six competitors came for ten minutes of talk, coffee, and flavor analogies that a coffee lover could only dream of for day one of the United States Barista Championships qualifying round in Denver, Colorado.
Saturday, December 1, witnessed three independents compete, the most this culture’s seen in a day. As a whole, the competitors brought their coffee game to the coffee bar and coffee table, where they proffered ideas before a quad of judges on the cultural heritage of Ethiopia – do we really need to use heirloom as a descriptor?; discussed the duality of self-identification, data collection and transparency among roasters, the prefix trans and all the alliterative combinations that it can create in relation to the scope of coffee – the bean and culture.
Routines in conversation also addressed the beginner coffee drinker to the novice, the small biz owner to the roaster, the farmer and the cooperative – covering the challenges and processes to continued excellence by means of direct trade relationships, even calling out some by name, four times – Maria Margarita Ramirez Marcos.
And of course, there were local and cultural notes, intimate and indigenous to the barista’s background and sense of place, including New Mexico’s state cookie, the Biscochito, Pu Erh tea from China and the Calamansi lime from the Philippines.
Among it all, the music was there to underscore in cadence and lyrics their themes and emotional aspirations. This is that curated playlist, press play.