Complex. Smooth. Flavorful.
And That’s Just the Barista!
images by Christopher Sawyer
Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) Western Regional Barista Championship (WRBC) was held February 19 and 20 at Roshambo Winery + Gallery in Dry Creek Valley. Hosted by Taylor Maid Farms (and Roshambo), the competition drew 14 top baristas from across the western United States to battle it out for the coveted title by demonstrating the art of espresso and, in the process, creating some of the world’s finest coffee concoctions.
In addition to the title, the winner earned an automatic semi-final placing in the U.S. Barista Championship (USBC) competition. The winner of the USBC competition competed in the World Barista Championship, which this year was held in Seattle April 15-18.
Each contestant prepared and served 12 coffee beverages - four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks of their own creation - all within 15 minutes. Seven USBC-certified judges, including one head judge, two technical judges and four sensory judges, evaluated each competitor. Judges focused on station cleanliness, taste, beverage presentation, technical skill and total impression. After the first round, the top six competitors moved on to the final round, where one will prevail as WRBC champion.
For more information go to http://www.worldbaristachampionship.com or http://www.scaa.org.
2005 Western Regional Barista Championship (WRBC)
Champion: Heather Perry, Coffee Klatch, San Dimas, CA
2nd Place: Gabriel Boscana, Pacific Bay Coffee Co., Walnut Creek, CA
3rd Place: Pele Aveau, Flying Goat Coffee, Santa Rosa, CA
4th Place: Isaac Gonzalez, Cafe Noto, Windsor, CA
5th Place: Sarah Jane Andrew, Flying Goat Coffee, Santa Rosa, CA
6th Place: Simone Walti, Flying Goat Coffee, Healdsburg, CA
2005 United States Barista Championship (USBC)
Champion: Phuong Tran, Lava Java, Ridgefield, WA
2nd Place: Ellie Hudson-Matuszak, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters & Tea Blenders, Chicago, IL
3rd Place: Billy Wilson, The Albina Press, Portland, OR
4th Place: Matthew Riddle, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters & Tea Blenders, Chicago, IL
5th Place: Ryan Dennhardt, Baristas Daily Grind, Kearney, NE
6th Place: Amber Sather, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters & Tea Blenders, Chicago, IL
Indonesian beans produce the heaviest, most full-bodied cup of coffee. Hailing from Java and Sumatra, the brew is thicker than most, but not as aromatic. It’s a good dessert coffee and very suitable to flavoring with milk and sugar.
Hawaiian beans, known as Kona, are some of the most expensive beans in the world. Kona offers average snap and body but is in mega demand worldwide because of its powerful aroma.
Growers in Africa produce a coffee of medium aroma and body and with good snap. Those who like very flavorful coffees generally like those from Kenya and Tanzania.
Coffee beans grown in Central and South America offer brews in the middle of the coffee-drinking road, with moderate body, aroma and snap. Most breakfast blends are made with American coffees, as are most flavored coffees.
There are more than 6,000 species of coffee plants, with at least 25 major types. The two most commercially important types are arabica (Coffea arabica) and robusta (Coffea canephora).
Arabica coffee accounts for more than 60 percent of world production. The typical arabica plant is a large bush. Grown at 600 meters to 2,000 meters above sea level, it’s very susceptible to frost, and prone to pests and diseases such as rust.
Because the arabica plant is delicate, it’s harder to grow and its beans are more expensive. Arabica can be drunk pure or used as the base for coffee blends with robusta. Arabica has a delicate taste and is used to add acidity and body to the finished brew.
Robusta coffee accounts for close to 40 percent of world production. The typical robusta plant is a bush or small tree, which as the name implies, is more resistant to disease than arabica. It’s grown between sea level and 800 meters above.
As the robusta plant’s hardier than the arabica, it’s easier - and therefore cheaper - to grow. But this doesn’t mean that a blend of coffee containing robusta beans is lower quality than pure Arabica… coffee blends are designed to bring out the best balance of different flavors. Robusta has a strong flavor and is used to give body and “kick” to coffee blends.
Robusta was first discovered growing naturally in the area now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Robusta coffee is produced in West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of South America.
# of coffee houses in U.S.: 18,000… of which: 35% are Starbucks; 13% are other chains; 52% are independently owned
% of adults who drink specialty coffee on a regular basis: 16
Total coffee retail sales in the U.S.: $22 billion
Retail sales of specialty coffee: $9 billion
Leading import country for coffee: Colombia
# of beans in two shots of espresso: 60