The Specialty Coffee Association of America presented the 2006 Northwest Regional Barista Competition over the last three days at Wonder Ballroom in Portland. Incredibly well attended, at many times it was standing room only. The crowd was a who’s who of notable coffee geeks, with attendees from all over the world. Great coffee was provided for all those attending, as well as cupping up stairs. The judging went on for two days. From the NW Barista website, “Though competitors are allowed as much room for creativity as they desire in terms of signature drink ingredients, dialogue and background music during performance, and serving table adornment, they simply cannot win if their attention is not focused primarily on the quality of the espresso they prepare.
But a winner must be a strong and engaging performer, as well. Thus, they are also evaluated on appropriate apparel (as if at work in a professional café environment), ability to speak knowledgeably about their coffee and signature drink, as well as what judges can expect from each drink (i.e. temperature, flavor profile, etc.); creativity, and general barista skills.” After two days of intense competition, the field of at least 50 baristas from all over the Northwest, were narrowed down to six finalists:
1. Kevin Fuller- Albina Press (Portland)
2. Jon Lewis- Bumper Crop Coffee (Washington)
3. Kyle Larson-Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland)
4. Billy Wilson- Albina Press (Portland)
5. Maki Campbell- Zoka (Seattle)
6. Lindsay Elliot- Zoka (Seattle)
The final day, emceed by 2006 world champion Klaus Thomsen (Copenhagen), was tight, with every finalist putting on a great effort. Finally, the winners were announced: third place, Kevin Fuller, second place, John Lewis, and first place to Billy Wilson. This means Billy will travel to Long Beach, California, to compete in the USBC in May of 2007. PFD.com will have a representative there.
Billy Wilson’s preparation of espresso caviar (noted in a previous post) had the both the judges and audience riveted. I’d love to get photos of the process to post here. Kevin Fuller scored with a complex blend of grapefruit and chocolate crème fraíche. Unfortunately, I missed seeing John Lewis in action, so did not see his signature drink. I’m sure someone will fill me in.
Congratulations to all three of these guys. They have a passion for both the science and art of great coffee, and it shows. Thanks to the good folks at Stumptown Coffee and the American Barista & Coffee School, both sponsors for the event. They all should be proud of their contributions to the amazing Portland coffee scene. I know I’m proud of them. Now if I can just get rid of these jiTteRs!