blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

On my way to the US Barista Championship

Rivulets of white suds stripe my square of a window; I look up and see an airport worker in a cherry picker bucket with a high powered sprayer bathing the outside of the plane. Then suds give way to rinse water. A few minutes later, we're taxiing, and despite the plane's bumpy movement, the pattern of water droplets and ribbons are stationary. One droplet breaks free and fetches diagonally across the glass, gathering others and growing in size.

"Please be seated for take-off."

I ignore the rapidly passing landscape and watch the vertical ribbons of water magically sprout smaller and smaller sucker-like horizontal runners, pushed by the wind. We're airborne. Above the clouds, there is the remaining glory of sunrise's backside. But I am fixated on the precisely parallel tiny stripes of water on my window. They aren't frozen, but they are still. Slowly the sun catches them, and imperceptibly heats them into molecular specs, and my observation is over.

My mind turns to the day ahead of me. I arrive in Charlotte, North Carolina around 9 AM, check into my hotel, find lunch, and find the Charlotte Convention Center. The judge's certification workshop begins at Noon.
  • Will I taste espressos this week that rival the smoothness of Phoenix's espresso blends?
  • Will I pass the sensory skills test?
  • Will I learn more about the parts of my tongue?
  • Will I be able to taste the difference between bitter and sour?
  • Will I emerge with a more precise taste vocabulary?

Precision is helpful when tasting coffee. But sometimes any description of coffee flavor is just cumbersome, especially when dealing with really dynamic, complex, fantastic tasting coffees.

I know, no matter what, that I will meet some interesting, kind and dynamic people, since that is exactly what happens every time I attend a coffee conference. I renew acquaintances and always meet new people.


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