Thursday, February 07, 2008

This past Saturday (Groundhog Day, 2/2/08) I had the chance to attend an excellent event. Though I never heard an official name it was referred to as the Coffeegeek event at Intelligentsia. Steve gave a great write-up of what happened in his blog. It was really cool to see the roaster demonstration. I had visited a large commercial roasting works a while ago, and there was a stark contrast seeing the hands-on operation of a specialty roaster.

I also enjoyed the moment when Scott (rasqual) realized he was standing on the obviously grossly mis-calibrated bean scale. :)

Listening to Geoff Watts talk is always so cool. His knowledge and passion are inspiring. I have already made the suggestion to the guys, but I will state it again here: A guest podcast of Geoff and Peter G would be really interesting to listen to.

Intelligentsia Coffeegeekfest 2/2/08
The cupping was a really good experience. The logistics of such a thing are pretty intimidating, trying to get a group of mostly newbies to go through the process, break 90 crusts and work on their taste perceptions had to be really tough.
I was having a hard time pulling scent descriptors out of the air, but once it came to slurping I was happy I had some of the same taste ideas as Geoff mentioned (the outstanding sweetness of the Planada, the cherry in the Zirikana), even if I was too chicken to speak up about them.

It made me realize that I have been rather low-brow in my taste experience- when I taste cherry my mind goes to a pop tart or some such processed item. When someone mentioned “stonefruit” I thought it must be a specific fruit I have not experienced, rather than the category of peaches, etc. It is an intimidating thing to cup with experienced tasters, even though they did everything possible to make everyone feel comfortable. At least I looked like I was working hard at it!

Originally uploaded by Intelligentsia Coffee.

(nice double chin mike)

The ‘jam’ portion was excellent. I am forever grateful to Steve for encouraging me to try out the GB5.

Originally uploaded by Intelligentsia Coffee.

(I'm behind Jim Schulman in this picture, doing a really bad job of pulling a shot.)
Also, when Doug Zell was doing some tidying on the machine he grabbed a portafilter. Like any self-respecting pain-in-the-butt guest, I asked if he would pull me a shot. He graciously complied, and though he felt it was a little tight, it was quite good. How many times do you get the opprtunity to get a shot pulled by DZ?!

The comparative brewing was very interesting, having the same coffee brewed 4 different ways. I think I liked the cup from the technivorm the most, but my chemex (real or improvised) works well for my office coffee needs.

The latte art throwdown was fun to watch. I thought the ‘geeks had a respectible showing, Bryan’s was impressive, and Steve had one of the best pours I saw from someone who does not currently work as a barista. Coffeegeeks are too polite for a down and dirty throwdown- we as a community need to work on our smack-talking!


Steve said...

How often do we get a chance to play with those expensive commercial machines? : )

Gabe said...

Dang. I would have loved to attend, although I did attend their one day Barista training session. Those Marzoccos are sweet! Matt Riddle was filling in for one of the instructors who called in sick. Everytime he pulled a shot or made a cappa, I graciously offered to taste it as everyone else didn't seem to care too much (they were highschooler training for a new shop down near Kankakee) :)

mikep said...

To my shame, i haven't attended the 'enthusiast' class yet.

Hey Gabe are you going to the GLRBC in Milwaukkee?

I might make it to the finals on Sun