Wow. Another super long day, and it's not over yet - I gotta type this. I also have to get up early to help Ken Davids in his home roasting lab, so I gotta make this quick. (BTW, I just uploaded another 36 photos at the tail end of yesterday's report, so make sure you check it out).
Quite a day. I judged in the semi finals of the USBC, and I'm very impressed with my "flight" of four Baristi - three of the four (Phuong, Bronwen, and Ryan) advanced onto the finals tomorrow. All in my flight were stellar - super stars. I gives me immense pleasure and gratitude that I can even be deemed worthy of judging these folks.
In the morning, I got roped (willingly, sorta) into being an SCAA Judge in another venue - I was asked to be a judge for the SCAA Awards program for best of show stuff. My category was "food", meaning I had to sample lots of chocolate and breads, and wafers, and scones and stuff. Sounds like a dream job, right? Naw. I'm not a huge chocolate fan, and I was pressed for time. But I did it, and visited a bunch of booths, trying their wares. Submitted on time too :)
In the afternoon, I had a singular pleasure. George Sabados, a brilliant espresso mind, and I did a very informal "espresso shootout" with some Nicaraguan we got, and then some Zoka Paladino. Actually, it didn't pan out like I hoped (head to head shot pulling), but I was able to pull some decent shots that George was complimenting left and right (even pointed out that I do something in my technique that he wished all top baristi did - a full grouphead AND portafilter flush after every shot).
The best part was when I decided to make him some macchiatos. He gave me some super compliments on it - heck, his eyes even popped when he drank it, and said "Mark, tell you what, this is the best Paladino I've ever had - is this the same shot build as your straight espresso?" "Yes". "Brilliant then!"
If I could ever "swoon" for a guy (not that there's anything wrong with that), I would have swooned at that moment :)
We attended the announcing of the finalists - Bronwen did a cartwheel, Billy jumped Danny O'Neil (that was funny). Phuong advanced as well, and I was so happy. Ryan, a guy I never saw before today (judged him today) also advanced and lemme tell you something - the guy's an absolute rock star.
Then it was off to La Marzocco's booth where they clued me in to some of their amazing new electronics on the new machines. I can't write about it now - too detailed. But soon.
I then went to the Barista party, and that was a blast. In fact, that's why I'm so late. I'd write about it too, but someone's holding minor blackmail against me (grin), so I have to keep the details confidential at the moment :)
More later today... last day!