One of the things we loved hearing about during our visit to Hario USA was Edwin’s experiences with the International and US versions of the Cup Tasters Championship. Devised to accentuate the importance of tasting the flavor of coffee — instead of seeing it simply as a commodity or a fuel — the contest brings coffee buyers from all over the world together to compete head-to-head.
Who has the best taste buds? Only the strong survive? OK, not so much. But it was fun learning about it from Edwin.
The world is back on the road toward crowning another barista champion, taking the helm over from last year’s winner Gwilym Davies. The next qualifying event in the US is the Western Regional Barista Championship, taking place in LA this weekend — 2/26 – 2/28 — at Siren Studios on Sunset. Baristas from California and Hawaii will be competing against each other to qualify for the US Barista Championship later this year. That final winner will then compete on the international stage against other national champs from around the world.
In addition to the competition itself, they usually have other great events that coffee lovers in general will enjoy. This year, they’re holding an ‘Origin to Art: Coffee Expo and Art Exhibit’ during all three days of the competition that will feature tastings, demonstrations and interaction.
Hoping to catch one of the competitions in your region? There’s a few more left to go and you can find out more from the main US Barista Championship website.
Last year’s dark roast drip coffee holiday blend was so popular, Velton spun it off into the Twilight Blend. This year, he’s introduced a coffee suitable for espresso and drip, that features an equal amount of Bourbon Arabica beans from Brazil and El Salvador. We love its buttery and smokey flavors, balanced with a little cocoa and a little sweetness. Packed up in a gorgeous red bag, this limited edition coffee is an excellent holiday gift!
Get yours now — available through 1/15/10, or until supplies last.
One of our favorite online stomping grounds, Home-Barista, is running a holiday Wish List Giveaway contest to promote awareness of their website and others in the online coffee and espresso community. If you’ve got some time to kill or are looking to pick-up some brand new toys, check out the full details of the contest on their site. They are also a rich information source for more technically-minded home espresso enthusiasts.
We’re participating as sponsors this year and so will be offering three different levels of prizes:
We received a missive from Barista Exchange last week concerning ArtPrize, an upcoming international art contest taking place in Grand Rapids, MI, September 23rd – October 10th. The contest features a $250,000 grand prize, which will be voted on by the community that attends the contest, and additional prizes for the top 10 placing artists.
It’s a unique and groundbreaking attempt to open up the interaction between artists and their audiences, including how their work is shown. Each participant must secure their own viewing venue somewhere in the city of Grand Rapids — after they’ve been accepted by ArtPrize, they need to connect with and secure their slot in one of the volunteer venue locations.
One such venue is MadCap Coffee Company, the source of the email we received, who is looking for artists within the coffee community:
“madcap will be offering its space as an artists venue. we have an amazing site with lots of visibility. our first option is to offer this site to an artist within the coffee community, that can highlight and draw attention to the world of coffee. maybe you are a farmer that is also an artist, or an artist and barista that has traveled to origin and can showcase coffee in all of its attributes. if so, we would like to talk with you.”
If you’re like us, you’re pretending that these long summer days won’t end — but we all know that they will and, if you’re also like us, you’ll have several months of dreary weather to work through before you get to your next crop o’ sunshine.
The best way to beat those mid-winter blues (and also give yourself something fabulous to look forward to)? Start planning an adventure to one of the world’s most celebrated coffee regions, of course! Infuse your winter with a little tropical sunshine while also engaging in one of our favorite festivals: the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, located on the Big Island from November 6 – 15, 2009. Featuring workshops, parades, the Miss Kona Coffee pageant, several contests and cuppings, this diverse and delicious festival has something for everyone. The official site also has a PDF driving tour for visitors to poke around the Kona coffee region on their own.
We are thrilled that today kicks off our series of five auctions of Giro D’Italia Giottos to benefit the non-profit organization Coffee Kids! This is such an awesome machine — we’re still waiting for them to arrive (they needed to engrave the name of 2009 winner Denis Menchov) and we can’t wait to get our grubby little paws on them.
These machines take all of the excellent performance and functionality of the Giotto Premium Plus and accent it with several specialized touches that make this limited edition stand apart — and since we’re the only US importer bringing these machines in stateside, these unique collector’s items are incredibly rare as well. But while your friends will be coveting the gorgeous stainless steel design or perhaps the Maglia Rosa-inspired pink manometer, the bragging rights will really be about all the money you donated to Coffee Kids, giving you a direct hand in helping to support tons of community projects for coffee growing families throughout Central America.
You know we’re big fans of Rocket Espresso and think that the Giotto Premium+ and Cellini Premium+ are some of the best home espresso machines on the market. When Rocket contacted us about a limited edition model of the Giotto that they designed in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Giro D’Italia cycling race, we thought we’d make buying this collector’s item a little bit more special.
And what better way to do that then to auction them off and donate all the proceeds to the non-profit organization Coffee Kids? We love their mission and we love Rocket, so for us they go hand in hand.
Beginning on 6/19/09 and continuing through 7/24/09, we’ll be auctioning off one Giro D’Italia Giotto each week, 5 of the 100 total espresso machines available in this limited edition run. If you or someone you love digs cycling, owning this little piece of history will give you something to brag about — not only because these machines are so unique, but you’ll be giving to a really great cause, too!
The Big Island of Hawaii is the home of the world famous Kona coffee region, which has long been touted as producing some of the tastiest coffee in the world. But it’s not the only source of delicious Hawaiian coffee — as we wrote about last month, Maui is undergoing a renaissance in coffee agriculture, and there is also a pretty serious emergence of another coffee growing region on the Big Island itself: Ka’u.
Big Island Video News has an interview with a Ka’u farmer that is quite interesting and they also show the recent Coffee Festival held in the area to promote the coffees from this region. Also, if you live in the islands or are planning on traveling there sometime soon, this great guide gives you a run down of the expansion of coffee agriculture throughout the islands, as well as some tips for visiting different plantations.
We’re hoping to get to the Big Island later this year and look forward to sampling some of these emerging beans. Aloha!
The UK National Barista Champion, Gwilym Davies, took the top honor Sunday at the World Barista Championship! Held this year in conjunction with the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s exposition in Atlanta, the competition featured four days of trials and eliminations with participants from 52 countries. Throughout the course of the competition, Gwilym created four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks, coming out ahead of finalists from Canada, Hungary, Ireland, Korea and the US.
In addition to the super-tight title of World Barista Champion and a hefty trophy, Gwilym also walks away with a Victoria Arduino Athena espresso machine and Mahlkonig K30 grinder. He’ll reign supreme until next year’s competition, scheduled to take place at the June 2010 Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s exposition in London.