Barista Competitions; Who Gives a Sh** - Page 2

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
e61brewski

#11: Post by e61brewski » Sep 27, 2006, 3:08 pm

you probably know this already, but there's a raging debate tangential to this discussion here:
http://ben.szobody.com/blog/index.php?t ... &tb=1&pb=1

it seems clear that barista competitions COULD be a devastatingly effective way to elevate the craft AND spread the gospel to the masses. clearly, they fall short in both regards. if you don't feel like reading all jillion hundred posts in the above thread, read this one. utterly brilliant, and a perfect example of how barista comps could be so much more effective. but they're not:
http://ben.szobody.com/blog/index.php?t ... pb=1#c1011
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Caffewerks

#12: Post by Caffewerks » Sep 27, 2006, 3:10 pm

Sorry Ken, but I travel a fair bit as well. Maybe not to the far reaches of the world such as yourself, but a fair amount regardless. yes, barista competitions have made a difference, and they will continue to. France has crappy coffee no matter what, so you can't use that as an example ;-)

Ken, If you started this thread to create interesting dialog, I think you succeeded. I'm not good at debate, but I do think that I need to comment on this in particular. I have dedicated my career to the advancement of espresso coffee, and I feel strongly that as the years go by, we will see competitions as part of that advancement.

What I can tell you is that allot of this reminds me of comments by the professionals about the AC community just a few years back. You know what I'm talking about. Yet out of AC came Andy with PID control, and Greg Scace with real temperature measurement devices. As a whole I feel that the espresso community has united to create advancement, and to question any focus on this work is really not in the best interest of any of us.

Again, just my opinion, and I prolly wont follow up any rebuttal, but at least I'm letting you know. I'm busy working on some Barista Jam stuff, as well as training a Barista for the NWRBC ;-)

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OlywaDave

#13: Post by OlywaDave » Sep 27, 2006, 4:48 pm

e61brewski wrote:you probably know this already, but there's a raging debate tangential to this discussion here:
http://ben.szobody.com/blog/index.php?t ... &tb=1&pb=1
http://ben.szobody.com/blog/index.php?t ... pb=1#c1011
I too have held back on posting a response to this.

First of all. Ben... That is a really great thread and debate and pretty much on topic with this. However I could be wrong but when browsing that thread and the massive number of responses it seems to have a lot more respect in tone for the competitors and competitions than this one here started up with.

Ken... I have to say even in Seattle I think there is a noticeable and measurable difference. The reason I say "even Seattle", some might expect the most influence to be felt there from competitions and some might expect they were already there... which minus a few exceptions they weren't.

Remember back at SCAA Seattle when you, Jim, Dan and I did that small cafe tour? I thought it was fairly easy back then to pick 3 or 4 cafes that you MUST go visit. Now there are 3-4 times (if not more) as many quality cafes to choose from that are as good if not better than the ones we hit. I can make a list if you want, but some of the Batdorf folks and I hit up about 8 places last Spring and could have kept going had time permitted.

I attribute that improvement in such a short time directly to the barista competitions, competitors and even barista/shop owner spectators who might have attended and took home a thing or two because of it. Don't get upset because it hasn't affected your area, I suggest you do a better job evangelizing Idaho. Or go to Spokane... ;)

As for locating your local "indy" shops across the country that need improvement... Good luck! I suspect there is enough information and resources available out there now that if those owners really cared enough they would do something about it.

The above is just an opinion from a guy who works at a company that strives daily to help folks (at home or in a shop) improve their espresso.
David White
EspressoParts.com

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OlywaDave

#14: Post by OlywaDave » Sep 27, 2006, 4:52 pm

And where is Competition Judge Dan Kehn on this topic????
David White
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Compass Coffee
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#15: Post by Compass Coffee » replying to OlywaDave » Sep 27, 2006, 5:04 pm

Off somewhere else giving the topic the attention he thought it deserved? :wink:

Maybe we should start a movement to ban barista competitions, and while we're at it to ban the Olympics, the SuperBowl, the World Series and any and all other events or competitions where someone puts themselves on the line pitting their skills againsts others with a winner declared. They are all pointless, people should only strive for mundane.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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OlywaDave

#16: Post by OlywaDave » Sep 27, 2006, 5:08 pm

Hey don't leave out the Stanley Cup... Let's ban that too.
David White
EspressoParts.com

e61brewski

#17: Post by e61brewski » Sep 27, 2006, 6:03 pm

OlywaDave wrote:Ben... That is a really great thread and debate and pretty much on topic with this. However I could be wrong but when browsing that thread and the massive number of responses it seems to have a lot more respect in tone for the competitors and competitions than this one here started up with.
mos def true. i got no use for the flames shooting from this thread. i DO think this is incredibly useful to debate, because while barista comps do fall short in many ways, i believe they have the POTENTIAL to do amazing things to spread word about high-quality spro. i'm not talking about just the sermon peter gets to preach to the smattering of people who show up ... or the scattered newspaper stories when someone wins.

i'm talking about culturally trendsetting possibilities -- and that glimmer of potential should incite ANYone associated with coffee, amateurs included, to push for morebetterfaster ... without rancor. which is why i am ardently trying to maintain the civility quotient on my blog.
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ben.szobody.com

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HB
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#18: Post by HB » Sep 27, 2006, 6:37 pm

OlywaDave wrote:And where is Competition Judge Dan Kehn on this topic????
Since you asked, I don't agree with Ken's original assertion:
Ken Fox wrote:I travel more than most who will read this and I have seen no evidence, either from what I have experienced or from what I have read, that the likelihood of getting a decent espresso beverage from a randomly selected cafe is noticeably better than before these competitions began.
OK, it's true that there's not a lot of hope if one selects a cafe at random. That isn't to say that noteworthy progress has not been made. The espresso scene has improved in the Triangle, and mostly notably among those cafes that have engaged the online community and are active participants in competition. Did the competitions produce this change? It is hard to say whether quality-conscious owners / baristas sought out competitions or competitions bolstered interest in pursuing quality. But it's clear that a yearly get-together of 20+ competitors and 100+ of their supporters has more people thinking about the topic of exceptional espresso.

As Jim pointed out, improvements at the SCAA convention are unquestionable. I've attended three times. The first time in Atlanta was a huge disappointment. Clueless equipment manufacturers serving espresso from tired boat beans. ESI and Intelligentsia were the only highlights of the showroom floor. The next year in Seattle was a turning point, with most credit going to the BGA booth and the rotating crew / blends. Then Charlotte brought the "power alley" of espresso with the likes of the BGA, Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, and Gimme Coffee within 50 feet of each other. It was a stroke of luck that brought these companies to the "less desireable" showroom area off to the side, which coincidentally was directly across from the barista competition.

In my mind, it's not a question of if the competitions have helped raise the level of discourse and the standards of performance, it's only how much.
Dan Kehn

Ken Fox

#19: Post by Ken Fox » Sep 27, 2006, 7:23 pm

I don't have time right now to closely read all the comments here but will try to do so later today. I have only one point that I want to make in this post and I think it is very important.

That point is that you should be able to challenge an idea, A THING, without receiving what amounts to personal attacks. You may or may not agree with the points I've tried to make, that is fine. You may even take umbrage because the thing that I have criticized is something you love; so be it.

But when the response becomes a diatribe that takes comments about a thing and turns them into responses directed at a person, you have gone beyond the bounds of reasoned discourse. I took Nick's comments as being entirely in that vein, which engendered the response I gave to him. It is not the first time he has responded to a post of mine in that fashion, that did not reference him in any way, in fact did not attack individual people but rather an idea or a thing. And no, Nick, this time I'm not interested in PMing the posts away. And once again, the inference you make and have made before about all these great pros who I owe my undershorts to, so I best behave, honestly that is just so much crap, Nick. My posts have sold a helluva lot of coffee and machines for a lot of merchants and roasters, and they have told me so, even though that was not my intention when I made them. We all give and we all get as a result of this online community, it is not a one way street from people like you to people like me.

Peter G also made a personal reference to me, and I honestly don't appreciate that and choose not to respond to his post for that reason, even though I think he probably did not mean it that way.

I don't care to be loved in this or other coffee forums; I don't come here for that, and I recommend the purchase of a dog to anyone who does. If we can't discuss ideas removed from specific individuals, then the discourse here is no better than one finds on such places as alt.coffee, and that would be a shame.

Fortunately, the great majority of the posts I've read in this thread have stayed as discussions of ideas, not invective directed at individuals (i.e. me), and I think that is a good thing.

Pax.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

Nick

#20: Post by Nick » Sep 27, 2006, 8:15 pm

Ken Fox wrote:I travel more than most who will read this and I have seen no evidence, either from what I have experienced or from what I have read, that the likelihood of getting a decent espresso beverage from a randomly selected cafe is noticeably better than before these competitions began.
Ken Fox wrote:As to your definition of the list of people who's posts you have found useful, intentionally leaving out my name (obviously) I can say that you have yet to post anything that I have found useful, either.
So in your first post, you claim that you have done your due diligence but have "seen no evidence" where others apparently have... then you whine to me that I apparently haven't done MY due diligence... sufficiently to see that you are a "useful" citizen of the bleeding-edge enthusiast community. Do you see how these things relate, Mr. Ken?

I don't know you Ken Fox. I don't know you at all. The people I listed, I've met. Maybe I've met you, but definitely nothing beyond a hello and a handshake. Those other folks, I've engaged in meaningful discourse, in addition to having read their words out there. I never said "Ken Fox; Who Gives a Sh1t about that guy." I simply didn't list you, and yet you felt compelled to point that out, obviously irked by the omission (which was not intentional). Again, if you don't see the hypocrisy... I dunno what to say.

For you to post a thread titled "Barista Competitions; Who Gives a Sh**" and then cry when you are (admittedly) attacked is the definition of "troll." It was clear, by your VERY FIRST PHRASE in this thread that your intention was to be provocative. You reap what you sow. Quick licking your paw. I, for one, feel no sympathy for you, and I doubt that anyone else does either.
Nick
wreckingballcoffee.com
nickcho.com