7th June 2011

First things 1st: Massive congrats to John Gordon who represented the UK for us at the World Barista Championships in Bogotá this year at the weekend, and who got through to the Finals! Top 6. Yet again the reality of what’s happening in the UK is being done justice on the world stage. Great work. I also loved USA’s Pete Licata’s set, and thought he might take it… But it was El Salvador’s Alejandro Mendez who won in the end with a fantastic presentation. Great to see a coffee producing nation (unusually) take the crown – and in a coffee producing country! Producing countries have tended in the past to lag behind in terms of top end espresso/barista competition, but now the tide is clearly turning, and (as James noted in the live commentary at the time) great baristas emerging from origin countries now are in the enviable position of having ready access to, and therefore greater connection with, all aspects of their coffees at a farm-level. Imagine being able to visit your farms regularly, even during national competition, or just as part of your general practice for that matter! The whole thing’s kind of flipped over for Alejandro though, in that he has his coffee on his doorstep, yet (understandably) decided to go exotic on the sourcing of his speciality microroaster, in choosing Steve Hasbean here in the UK! A big trend in this year’s competition generally was definitely for even greater examination and showcasing of these aspects of varietals, processing, and the whole coffee-fruit. Where next? Technique minutiae? Exciting stuff. Another trend and temptation this year is clearly to get a beard on, to go with my already bald head …but I will resist!

Back ‘home’, I have my current FAVourite coffee for espresso on at the cafe right now for another day or so! Solum. Semi-washed Catuai microlot via JGC. When its bang on, the red fruit/walnut/cake mixture thing can be just fantastic. I’m also musing a little more these last couple of weeks about the subtle interplay between PID temp stability, ground coffee hygroscopicity and temperature, and dose/grind size. For what its worth. And praying for a time when I will be grinding for the shot I’m making, rather than the next. Some grinders come closer, I think, but all have their issues.

Either side of this, I’m also still brewing Peter’s awesome Completo blend (it’s just so good, for all sorts of reasons I don’t need to go into right now). I’m often the first to question the true success of the coffees I/we make, but Completo and Solum are both performing particularly well this week (partly due to tighter than ever control over various key factors), the percentage of shots I’m happy with is perhaps at an all time peak, and this has a ripple effect on all the drinks, naturally. I hope it continues, and continues to progress!

I’m also getting the new seasonal cafetière menus ready for the cafe! Kilenso Mokanesa, Hope, and Wahana will feature soon!

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