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SCAA Long Beach 2007 - Day 3
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: May 7, 2007
Article rating: 9.6
feedback: (9) comments | read | write

Waking up this morning was tough again - the best party of the show happened last night with the Barista Guild of America Sunday night party at Cohiba, where much fun and entertainment was had (no free booze or food though, which speaks volumes about how good the party was!). But we're fired up to hit the floor running, and give you coverage of the last day! Cindy Taylor, our Content Editor had to leave this morning, but Beata Siwinski and yours truly, Mark Prince, have got you covered.

Posted by Mark Prince, 8:20am Permalink to this blog entry

Well, I'm about to head off to the trade show, about a 5 minute shuttle bus ride away. But I can't resist showing something off that I got yesterday. Score!

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Nick Cho, Semifinals of the USBC
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 8:45am Permalink to this blog entry
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Nick Cho of Murky Coffee was a favourite in this year's USBC, but unfortunately, he did not make it into the finals.

These photos are ones I took yesterday during the first of Nick's two rounds. He filed a protest about the condition of the middle machine, and the protest was successful, giving him another chance to compete.

Unfortunately, Mark could not attend this round by Nick because of a meeting he had scheduled with a grinder maker, so I was there, snapping away on one of CoffeeGeek's cameras. I cannot tell you too much about Nick's performance other than he looked very intense but was also very fun to watch. His signature drink looked very exciting, and I wish I had a chance to taste it. I think many in the audience would like to taste the drinks these baristas make!

Nick's choice of cups were spectacular, and are sold by a company that advertises on CoffeeGeek from time to time, Terra Keramik.

Mark has put in some comments in the photos, as best he could since he did not attend. Enjoy these photos of Mr. Cho in the competition!

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The Cups!
Nick's choice of cups are the amazing (and amazingly expensive) Terra Keramik. He also bought a set of Illy Nudes off eBay as "backups".
Amazing cups - dripping white porcelain with platinum highlighting.
Last seconds...
Nick cleaning his station in the last seconds (he had 33 left when this photo was taken). Note the can of compressed air.
Gettiing into it....
I see Nick's loading up a portafilter with great technique... but he's using the machine's middle group!
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The face...
I'm pretty sure that Nick isn't happy with the pulls... but it looks like he's just lining up the cups in this shot on the middle group.
Making sure everything's working right.
Uh oh...
Again, using the middle (and far right) group. This La Marzocco had a (supposedly) faulty middle group. Note the two fisted action by Nick on the right ;)
Pouring the latte art for the judges.
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Steaming Milk
Steaming milk while the sensory judges and head judge look on.
Sig Dring Time
Nick comes around to the outside to work on his signature drink. Time is counting down.
The setup.
Intense setup. Shot glasses for the sig drink espresso, the settings, the knock boxes, the tamper, the dual grinders, yada yada!
Judges tasting
Judges taste the elements that go with the sig drink, as per Nick's instructions.
Tiamo Vacuum Brewers and More
Posted by Mark Prince, 9:20am Permalink to this blog entry
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Oh I can tell this is going to be a busy day. I have three interviews with grinder companies lined up later, LM's booth again, and a lot more. But very first stop? A booth that Beata found yesterday that I wanted to check out: Tiamo Cafe Products out of China.

very important note: This company only sells wholesale to importers / vendors. As a consumer, please do not contact them wanting to buy their products. Instead, if you are interested, suggest them to vendors / importers you regularly deal with.

With that out of the way, this was one of the cooler booths for me to visit. I am seriously nuts about vac pots, and finding a new manufacturer I hadn't heard of before was a total geek moment for me. I visited the booth and checked out what they have. I liked what I saw.

- the usual design for clamp-stand vacuum brewers (which is actually based on the same design as the original syphon coffee brewers from the 1840s!), with some fancy woodwork and metal handles, more plain handles and metalwork (my preference) and a whole variety of sizes available, from 2 cups on up to 5, and maybe 8 (though I didn't see those models).

- OMG. They're a knock off company - of sorts. I saw in their catalog (but not in the booth) a knockoff of the Hario Deco brewer!

- some really cool looking (and probably very efficient) butane burners designed specifically for vacuum / siphon coffee makers. Two designs in the booth.

- Woah. Balance brewers. Also in their catalog, not in their stand. Pricing was kick butt - if you buy in multiple-hundred units, the metal one is way under $100. Seeing as these tend to retail for around $350 or more, that's quite a price.

- A wide variety of press pots. Some knock off designs, but mainly copying the Hario versions.

- Cold drip brewers! NICE! And not copies of other designs, as far as I could tell.

- A wide range of steel moka pots.

I enquired about pricing myself, because, who knows, there may be a CG vending site soon for hard-to-find stuff. I was really happy with the pricing, though the quantities scared me a bit - orders of 500 units or more minimum for a lot of the products. What's good about this is, if someone does import the range of Tiamo products over here, the pricing retail should be very competitive. Including duties, FOB, stock, handling, etc, I'm guessing a 3 cup vacpot / butane burner combo should come in at around $65--$75 retail. Considering most of the suitable butane burners already online here are around $45 or more, that's a killer price.

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Some of the Retail Boxes
They got a bit beat up in the shipping (different from a bulk order), and it shows the different handle colours available. Note burner.
Coffee Area
The company does more than coffee, but here's most of their coffee stuff at the show. The catalog has much more.
Different boxing
The wider box includes (I believe) the burner as well.
USBC Trophies by Reg Barber
Posted by Mark Prince, 10:15am Permalink to this blog entry

Ack - totally forgot to post this before. But here's an example of the trophies Reg Barber did for the USBC this year. This is the bronze prize. Yikes. Probably the best trophy ever (Except for the Canadian National Championship Trophy!).

USBC Bronze Trophy

Espresso Supply
Posted by Mark Prince, 11:20am Permalink to this blog entry
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Hey, a prototype. I love prototypes!
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Oh come on. It's a bell shaped pitcher (usually panned), with a very cool spout design. Nifty!
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Lotsa Love
Kyle Anderson from Baratza gives Jane, formerly of Espresso Supply (now) a huge hug at her farewell party.

Just finished a nice visit with Laura and Jane (last time Jane will be at these shows! More on that below) from Espresso Supply, where Jane gave me a new prototype frothing pitcher that she'd like some feedback on. What is it with these prototype frothing pitchers!!! (kidding, I love it! Development into any nuance of prepping better espresso and milk-based espresso drinks is stuff I drool over).

More on that later too. Some changes were in store at the Espresso Supply booth. This place is home to my favourite all time pitcher - the Europa design (I know others carry it, but I bought mine from Espresso Supply), and just about every doodad and gizmo you can think of for using to make great coffee and espresso.

The online shop and catalog is more geared towards commercial cafes than to the home user, but that hasn't stopped the home user from ordering from them in droves! So much so that at times, Espresso Supply has been overwhelmed, so they had to make the (very) tough decision of going to $50 minimum orders on their website. Still, I can't imagine a CoffeeGeek not finding at least that much, if not more, to order and buy.

Last year, Bodum and consumer items were more in evidence in the booth - this year, the focus was more towards the commercial side of things, and stuff like syrup stands and the like were in evidence. And I think it helped their sales a bit - after all, this is a professional trade show, not a consumer love fest.

Espresso Supply is always looking for new and interesting products to bring to the fore in the world of Espresso, and this year, they're concentrating a bit on pitchers and other barista tools. Laura gave me this prototype pitcher; at first maybe not much to look at, but here's the deal. It's a bell shape, which many believe aid in the "whirlpool" effect of frothing and texturizing milk. Second, it's got a very interesting spout, reminiscent of the Alessi and Europa designs. Third, it's 16oz, which for me is the near ideal size for a frothing pitcher (but still kinda rare). Can't wait to try it out!

Laura is always awesome. They threw an "afterparty" on Sunday night, which Beata and I stopped by, and I got some great Prosceco for my visit. There was also a very expensive bottle of Dom Perignon on display, and everyone was signing it. Why? Because longtime business partner Jane is leaving Espresso Supply to go back to school to study viniculture and wine making. Huge Kudos to Jane for that, but you'll be missed. The pic to the right is the only picture I have of Jane from the entire show - and it's of the back of her head. Damnit!!!

Oh well, pPick a nice bottle for me, Jane!

1st Line Booth Visit - No Jim!
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 12:15pm Permalink to this blog entry
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1st Line Equipment
Tucked in the back corner of the show, I could tell this was a "coffeegeeker's" hangout!
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So Much!
There was so much here on display!
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It looks so cute like this! This is how we should have this machine at home!

Day 3 of the exhibition is already in the full swing. I came by the 1st in Line booth a few times hoping to meet Jim Piccinich, the company's owner. Unfortunately he wasn't here, and is probably out enjoying the show floor. I did get to meet Moses Gammoh who showed me around the booth, and I saw a wide range of machines offerings including some that I see when I am at home, like the Elektra Lever machine and the Vibiemme Domobar Super.

Mark has that machine back up on the test area sitting next to another machine that looks similar to it, and this brings up something about living with "the CoffeeGeek".

Whenever I see Mark really into his testing mode whether it is for a paying client (he does a lot of consultation work these days) or for the website, I see how passionate he is about what he is doing, and how serious he takes it. I say this because it was strange seeing a machine that I see at home, with probes and thermometers running through it, then I see the same machine all shiny and beautiful on the show floor, and it is like it is an entirely different machine, but also the same, and I just know looking at the machine that it is probably a very good one, just because I catch some words Mark is mumbling when he is testing it, or the enthusiasm he shows, even today after how many millions of espressos he has had - the enthusiasm for having a great espresso on a good machine. Yes, he actually woops and hollas at home all by himself (so he thinks!) when he has a good coffee experience.

I assume Vibiemme review is coming at some point, but because of what I see at home, I recognized this one in the 1stline booth as being a good espresso machine.

There were so many interesting things in the 1st Line booth that were catching my eye, from shiny machines to interesting parts and accessories. There were plenty of grinders and tampers and all sorts of things that I think a CoffeeGeek would love. For me, the lever machine and the Vibiemme were standing out. I also noticed that there were always many people at the booth, so obviously, it is a great show for 1st Line to be at.

I also got to meet there Jason Casale from Classico Coffee Roasting Company - another CoffeeGeek advertiser who was also helping out in Jim's booth.

1st Line has been a great supporter in the past for CoffeeGeek, and they continue to support the website to this day. It was a good visit, but I am sorry I missed Jim; I wanted to put a face and smile to the emails I have written him in the past.

Pete Licata - USBC Finals
Posted by Mark Prince, 1:30pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Jeff Taylor and I go way, way back. As one of the principals involved with PT's Coffee, he's always been focused on quality coffee and espresso, but where I really know Jeff is in his involvement with barista competitions - which stretches back into the dark ages. We've had our ups and downs, our opinion differences (and many more similarities) on competitions, but always remained friends, which for me speaks volumes about him and his company - Jeff could easily dislike me for some of my own strong minded opinions, but I think he's always respected them, if not alway agreeing with them.

So why I am I mentioning all this personal stuff at the start of a blog entry for Pete Licata? Well, the thing is, I don't know Pete that well - if at all. And it's all my fault. Pete's been a staple at many competitions in the past, but I just never tried much to enter into discussion with him, and I'm ashamed to say, I never really watched a full performance by Pete in the past - at most, I caught snippets. So this time around, for the USBC finals, Pete was one of the competitors I was determined to watch from start to finish - and to present as one of the few Finalist day competitors on this final day at the SCAA show.

What did I see? In a word, wow. In two words, polished professional. In three: a passionate, dedicated barista.

I saw a consummate professional, someone who just knows so much about the art and science of quality espresso and coffee that you would think he was born that way. His shots were absolutely spot on; he showed amazing grace and skill the entire fifteen minutes; his capps and sig builds were solid, and I should point out, in competitions, Pete is serious... deadly serious. For him, crafting quality espresso seems to be given every iota of respect he can give it, and it comes through. Not much smiling in the routine, which is why I was almost caught by surprise at the end when, after serving the four signature drinks to the judges, Pete had a fifth, which I thought was for the head judge. But instead, he grabbed it himself, saluted and toasted the judges, and with a broad grin, shared the drink with them before calling time on his routine.

Pete did awesome. If he doesn't win this, he's gotta be in the top three! Enjoy some photos of his competition routine.

(ed note: Pete indeed did finish as the 2nd best Barista in the US - only a scant few points behind winner Heather Perry).

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Checking, Starting
Pete Licata, at the start of his finals round competition at the USBC.
As I remember it, Pete's sig required a full build over the entire 15 minute round.
Working on the Sig
Getting elements ready early on.
Ice Ice Baby
Pete talking to the judges about his coffee while prepping. Love "The Pete" :)
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Second stage
Unfortunately, I'm skipping over the espresso and capp - my photos were off and blurry. Here's Pete working his sig again.
Watching on
Both Michelle Campbell and Nick Cho (Emcee in the Finals) watching on.
Judge scoring
Andrew Barnett, with a scoresheet already full of copious notes, remarking on sig build.
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Pete was showing a growing trend in competitions - carbonating the sig drink!
Serving it up
Pete, with plenty of time to spare, serving the sig drink to the judges.
A toast!
Pete takes the fifth glass for himself, and salutes the judges!
Comp over, talking to Nick. Note one judges' drink is almost empty in the background. Good sign all around.
Roast Magazine and CoffeeGeek!
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 4:05pm Permalink to this blog entry
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In the picture to the right is the very talented Shanna Germain, Editor of Roast Magazine, and she has the bag I am getting for Mark!

I dropped by the booth after meeting Shanna only briefly on Friday evening at the Intelligentsia Party; she was quite busy, and in the middle of finishing up a new subscription signup when I arrived. Roast Magazine has these great bags for the show - they are essentially soft briefcases with lots of pockets perfect for your portable office. I told Shanna I wanted to get one for Mark and was about to hand over the $10 for it and she said oh no no no! For Mark?! No, I can't charge you!

But Mark can write an article for us in return! Oh oh!

Just a few minutes ago, I was with Mark when we ran into Shanna at the barista competition area, and that is when I told Mark he has to write an article for Shanna. He was surprised, but grabbed the bag and said "well, it is a cool bag! - OK, but I have a counter offer for you Shanna!"

I am not sure if they formally agreed to this deal or not so do not quote me, but it looks like Mark will probably write an article for Roast (which he says he's very honored to do so, but he doesn't feel he's capable of doing that community any justice with his writing), and Shanna agreed to look into us having a closer relationship with Roast Magazine. Mark is sitting here, and I asked him to type the next paragraph in.

Yo. ;) Well, it's true - I'm terribly honoured that Shanna wants me to write for their magazine - I don't know if I can do it justice since those folks are so hardcore about commercial roasting and what the heck do I know about that kinda stuff! But I also suggested to Shanna that we set up a regular article space on CoffeeGeek for a monthly reprint from Roast Magazine's archives. I know, from being a (comp!) subscriber that while most of the content is really geared towards the commercial artisan roaster, there are always a few articles every issue that I really feel would appeal to the CoffeeGeek reader. I also hope it will be a boon to new Roast subscriptions; kind of a teaser for the kind of content you'd read each issue if you subscribed.

Shanna seemed really open to the deal, so when I get back to Vancouver and have a chance to settle, we'll see what we can work out - but it looks good for some fresh content on CG, and a great informal partnership with Roast Magazine!

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:20pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Vince's Latte Art
Vince is one of the "old fathers" now of latte art pouring, and has never lost his touch. He could give anyone a run for their money.

So every year, I either declare in these posts what for me was the best espresso on the show floor or mention it briefly in the forums. This year, it's in the posts.

The best espresso of the entire show, and this includes all the excellent shots I was tasting in the barista training area for the USBC, came from the 49th Parallel booth. This includes all the espresso I was privileged to sample and all the great roasters' booths, the BGA booth, at the La Marzocco booth and all the supah-star baristas working the two group GS/3, all of it. Just a stellar shot produced with 49th's Epic espresso, on a very troublesome La Marzocco machine.

This may seem a bit self-serving, because 49th is right in my own backyard, but if you knew the up and down relationship I've had with the company (and its owner), chances are you'd take this as an objective, fair call. And I'm not alone. Current WBC Champion Klaus Thomson said the same thing - Vince Piccolo, 49th's owner, was pulling some of the best shots of the show for him too.

This is all full of irony, because Vince wasn't having a good show. He had problem after problem with his La Marzocco machine, a brand new one provided on loan by ESI. Problems with the pump. Problems with the gicleur. Even after explaining his own perception of the problems to LM, it took them a bit of time to acknowledge it and get it fixed. I have a photo (in the pool below) that tells the tale - Vince looking at the LM machine going "why me!!!" I tried to explain to him that everyone "has their trade show cherry broken, and this is yours, happening now". By trade show cherry, I mean what can go wrong, does. Every seasoned booth operator knows this. This was Vince's first ever trade show as a booth owner, and well, now he has the experience.

In the booth were a lot of the 49th crew, and some guests, including Barrett Jones, 2nd best Barista in Canada (behind his brother Colter), Philip Search, famous for his work on Anfim grinder mods (and soon, a new dream machine); Lindsey Parker, an excellent trainer for 49th and future "Director of Coffee", Vince's wife, and other people. While the booth didn't have the huge crowds of a Clover booth or the fans standing around the popular GS/3 double group over in LM's booth, there was a constant stream of the "who's who" of the espresso and coffee world stopping by 49th, and if you wanted to meet some of the Globe's luminaries in quality coffee, this was one place to find them.

The Clover in the booth was producing great coffees as well. I have a comment about this year's Clover coffee at the show, but I'll save that for the Clover comments. All in all, I think 49th had a great show, and really showed off some fine coffees. I certainly enjoyed the espresso I got at the booth!

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Why Me!
Vince, captured in one of the more trying times on the machine. He couldn't serve espresso at this point.
On the last day, much happier, everything was flowing smoothly.
Phil and Barrett
Phil Search and Barrett Jones, working the FB80.
Vince and Klaus
Vince Piccolo with Klaus Thomsen, the 2006 WBC Champion.
Score! Part what, Seventeen?
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:50pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Show's almost over, we have to head to the airport soon. I'm typing this as I sit outside the convention center, while I am also messaging James Hoffman with the results of the USBC... but I got a lot of competition blends (didn't get Heather Perry's though - which sucks! I couldn't find her Dad before I had to leave). The one I'm most anxious to try is Matt Riddle's, and bless her heart, Ellie Matuszak (a SCAA Board Member no less - and damnit, I didn't congratulate her - Congrats Ellie!) came around with a big five pound bag, and smaller empty 1lb bags and started passing it around. I got a LB. Can't wait to try it!

(update: out of all the coffees I brought home, this was easily the best espresso blend of the bunch, hands down. It's not Black Cat per se. But hopefully, it soon will be. Or maybe that "gold cat" rumour I keep hearing about....)

Article rating: 9.6
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: May 7, 2007
feedback: (9) comments | read | write
Reports From the Road Column Archives  
Column Description
One of the more popular pieces of content on the CoffeeGeek website are the reports from major trade shows. We cover shows like no other media source does - giving first hand intimate and frank reports that give you the real scoop on what's going on, from a consumer and a coffee lover's true perspective.

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