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Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
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MarkPrince
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Posted Mon Sep 20, 2010, 12:00am
Subject: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please!
by Mark Prince

The barista communities in many parts of the world love the latte art throwdown; but maybe it's time to up the game a bit and start loving the Spro Down a bit more, for the benefit of quality and the pursuit of espresso happiness (and winner take all prizes!)
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IMAWriter
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Posted Mon Sep 20, 2010, 9:16pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

Bless you, Mark, for this insight.

In music, we like to say "it's all about the song." Like you, I believe it's ALL BOUT THE COFFEE.
I love a great milk drink like most here, but i was converted totally to excellent coffee when given a shot at Murky coffee (the DC location) nearly 9 years ago.
It was almost "chewable." The barista, a lovely young lady tossed out 2 shots, dialed in the grinder, and out came about 2 oz of heaven called espresso. (the bean was Counter Culture Toscano, if memory serves.)

This experience convinced me to improve all my various methods of coffee making, including the study of the coffee bean itself, which has proven to be so richly rewarding.

It seems the "spro down" video showed,demonstrated what the love of great coffee should be. Not so much ego driven, but driven by a respect for the process, and most importantly the person on the other end of the cup, the lucky one who tips that cup.

There is room for both latte art competitions and spro downs. I know which one I would attend, if only to greedily down all the "rejects" from these baristi. :>D

Nice video, though I had to watch it on YouTube, as the one you posted locked up.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
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gutten
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Posted Tue Sep 21, 2010, 8:19pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

Hey Mark thanks for bringing up that jam @ Radio City. It was memorable for a couple of reasons: Steve and his mission to help the less fortunate and the taste of the coffee less the milk! If memory serves me right, there was NO milk steamed.

geir     www.drumroaster.com
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MarkPrince
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Posted Wed Sep 22, 2010, 5:13pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

That's right - no milk steamed at both the Sunrise Jams at Radio Station cafe. IIRC, no milk at the JJ Bean Spro Down Jam either.

From what I remember, Vancouver has seen at least five major-organized (ie more than 10 baristas) Spro Downs in the past few years. I'd like to see more, and will always volunteer to be a judge (or a shot puller as well).

Mark

 
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MarkPrince
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Posted Thu Sep 23, 2010, 3:35pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

I'm really curious to find out more about the history of these kind of Spro Down competitions - I posed the question right in the article. Does anyone know of examples of these kind of head to head barista shot pull comps in the past?

If I had to guess at an earlier rendition of this kind of thing, it'd probably take place in Australia or Scandinavia.

There are a few examples of additional espresso shootouts I can think of, but many of them involve milk at some stage. One example is the epic battles between Australia and New Zealand, the Tasman Cup, where teams of four baristas on two machines battle to bang out the most beverages in a fixed time. But many of these drink builds involve milk (some are espresso).

I made brief mention of the battle between Paul Bassett and John Hornall in 2005 at Hines Public Market Cafe. Here's a bit more detail.

Bassett is famous for jawing about his espresso skills and theories behind good espresso. But he can back it up. He and Hornall got into a discussion at a party held at Hines about techniques for pulling better shots, and they ended up heading to Hornall's 5 group machine to pull shots of Hines' signature espresso blend. Each got only one shot pull (it may have been two, but I only saw one each). Hornall went first, pulling a double - letting Bassett taste one, Hornall the other.

Bassett then went to the machine, made some grinder adjustments, dosed differently, flushed the machine differently and pulled his double shot. Both tasted again, and Hornall was visibly surprised at the taste - he himself declared Bassett the winner. There was a huge crowd and many Australians at the event, and its one of those annals of espresso I remember quite well.

Mark

 
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Posted Thu Sep 23, 2010, 6:37pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

Bassett then went to the machine, made some grinder adjustments, dosed differently, flushed the machine differently and pulled his double shot. Both tasted again, and Hornall was visibly surprised at the taste - he himself declared Bassett the winner. There was a huge crowd and many Australians at the event, and its one of those annals of espresso I remember quite well.

Posted September 23, 2010 link

You didn't mention that the scene included lots of extremely loud yet unintelligible yelling, the banging out and brandishing of a very firm puck, and the highly animated display of an certain Aussie middle finger. The entire performance was accompanied by full-throated screaming from the enthusiastic audience, who, unlike myself, seemed to know what the hell was going on.

 
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MarkPrince
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Posted Thu Sep 23, 2010, 8:38pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

andys Said:

You didn't mention that the scene included lots of extremely loud yet unintelligible yelling, the banging out and brandishing of a very firm puck, and the highly animated display of an certain Aussie middle finger. The entire performance was accompanied by full-throated screaming from the enthusiastic audience, who, unlike myself, seemed to know what the hell was going on.

Posted September 23, 2010 link

Yep... remember it well, like a picture.

Oh wait - check out the last two rows of these pictures :)

"La Marzocco Party at Hines! Wowsa"

Mark

 
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MarkPrince
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Posted Fri Oct 1, 2010, 3:36pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

I'm guessing that the formalized "Spro Down" is a concept then that started in Vancouver with Jon Lewis wanting to promote the art of pulling a shot vs. the art of pouring art?

I have not heard one peep about an espresso throw down happening prior to this.

My knowledge of past Nordic Barista Cups is pretty poor - did they do something like this back in the day?

Mark

 
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CraigA
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Posted Fri Oct 1, 2010, 4:39pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

And the current poll rating to date on the Homepage is 79% Espresso "Spro Downs" to 21% "Latte Art Throwdowns"..

 
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qupal
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Posted Mon Oct 4, 2010, 5:10pm
Subject: Re: Less Throw Downs, More Spro Downs Please! by Mark Prince
 

Thankyou very muc.
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