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Coffee Stadium

June 3, 2011

This morning I’m hitting the road yet again. I haven’t checked if our accommodations have WiFi, but I’ve come to expect there is internet everywhere and it is my intention to keep bringing you fresh content regardless of my geographic position or mental state. Family weddings can be intense.

There are all kinds of things that I’ll be missing while I’m away. Not least of all is the Mangalista snout-to-tail meal at 677 Prime that looks fantastic. That’s one reason to stay in Albany.

If that’s not compelling, and you feel the urge to try and catch a midnight plane going anywhere, perhaps I can point you in the direction of South America. Because right now in Columbia, Bogota specifically, is the 2011 World Barista Championship. I couldn’t really care less about the Olympics, but this is the kind of international competition that really fires me up. And if you can’t afford the airfare, you can watch the whole thing streaming live over the internet here: http://bit.ly/WBC2011

You know, last year was the first time the United States won. That makes us the defending champs.

Since I’m going to be in the car most of the day today, I’m not even going to be able to watch our guy compete in round one. This year, the competitor from the United States is not defending champion Michael Phillips from Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago. Really I should follow what happens on the national level, and maybe next year I will.

However this year we are fielding Pete Licata of the Honolulu Coffee Co. I know that Hawaii is part of the United States, and that our President was born there, but even still it feels foreign. Nonetheless, Licata is our man and he has my support.

No matter how you feel about coffee, I encourage you to take a few minutes of your day and watch this thing.

If you love espresso, this competition is going to entrance you and make you drool. You’ll hear lascivious descriptions of flavors extracted from roasted beans you might not have thought imaginable. You will see glorious shot after shot pulled by the best baristas in the world. You will watch in envy as the sensory judges are served their three rounds of drinks.

If you are ambivalent about espresso, you may learn a thing or two about why people love it. Or then again, you may view the entire competition the way I view golf on TV. Kind of pointless.

But if you are reading a food blog, you must at least have some passing interest in delicious things. Espresso, and I mean the real thing, expertly extracted by meticulous and passionate craftsmen, is truly delicious. If you have only experienced espresso as something thin, and bitter, and acrid, then you haven’t really experienced what espresso can be.

It’s a crime what passes for espresso in most of the world.

Which is one reason why this competition gets me so excited. Clearly, not all the countries that are represented in the contest are as fastidious in their espresso as others. But events like this allow for the exchange of ideas. And those who are at the height of their game in their respective countries can return with new techniques for making better coffee.

You don’t even have to go to Bogota to make that happen. If you or anyone you know is involved in making espresso, many of the benefits from the competition can be gleaned just through careful observation. Watch what the competitors are doing. Take notes. Make better coffee.

Perhaps the world won’t be a better place, but it will certainly be a tastier one.

One Comment leave one →
  1. MattW permalink
    June 4, 2011 12:42 pm

    Still no Wegmans love for Albany.

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/06/04/wegmans_to_build_store_near_burlington_mall/

    Can’t wait to shop here all the time.

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