Unsanctioned Pro-Am Competition

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HB
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#1: Post by HB »

Two genuine treasures for espresso enthusiasts in general and those living in the Triangle in particular are Peter Guliano and Daryn Berlin. They hail from Counter Culture Coffee in Durham and have welcomed me and other home baristas into their espresso lab every Friday for over a year now. Home-Barista.com has benefited most of all, as they've not only hosted equipment shootouts, but they also can't say "no" to any reasonable request. Need some coffee for a contest? No problem! Borrow the espresso lab for a few hours? C'mon by! Want a specific blend to challenge your latest equipment review? You bet, it'll be just a minute!

So if I haven't said it lately guys, I really appreciate everything you've done. :-)

All the kind words aside though, we have a grudge match brewing. Daryn and I especially enjoy trash-talking each other, dissing each other's dismal "skillz" in escalading taunts. Of course it's all in fun, and in fact I recognize the guy has machine-like shot pulling technique anyone would envy. Too bad he can't steam milk to save his life. ;-)

Well, this past weekend at the SERBC, I had the opportunity to sit around the table and chat with them both, something we don't get to do much with their busy travel schedules. Daryn told me of his intent to enter the USBC in April. Fortunately I wasn't drinking anything at the moment, otherwise the wine spray would have covered all within a 10 foot radius. My eyes stopped bulging and my urge to laugh subsided when I saw he was serious. Kidding aside, I admire his resolve and wish him the best in his quest.

On a related note, our mutual taunting led to the usual one-upsmanship. That's where I make fun of his steaming skillz and he ridicules my lack of speed. He's right, you had better be patient if you want a gosh-shot from me, especially in the unfamiliar milieu of their espresso lab. But with the competition and the idea of promoting the role of home baristas still fresh in my mind, I suggested an exhibition between Team CCC and Team HB at the next SERBC. There's nothing going on for a good half hour while we're waiting for the final results, so why not put on a little show? Peter and Daryn were stoked about the idea, and Mike Walsh offered to pair up for the smackdown. We had a good time joking about the ways it might play out; Michelle Campbell from the SCAA even grudgingly went along with my suggestion to be a ring girl for the Cage Match (OK, a little wine was involved in that part of the discussion). I asked about an exhibition at the USBC, which she roundly rejected. Oh well, we've got a little more push at the regionals, since Cindy Chang at Counter Culture Coffee is the local event organizer.

Mike and I are already working on our strategy. We think we can take them, though we admit it won't be easy. Nick Cho overheard our discussion and offered to throw himself and Ryan Jensen into the ring. Hey Nick, ever see Rocky III? Maybe Balboa was dumb enough to step in the ring with Hulk Hogan, not me! Oh heck, who knows, if it's for charity, Team HB might be willing to play the role... :shock:
Dan Kehn

Abe Carmeli
Team HB

#2: Post by Abe Carmeli »

HB wrote: Oh heck, who knows, if it's for charity, Team HB might be willing to play the role... :shock:
This is becoming very interesting Dan. Who is representing Team HB? Is it you and Mike against CCC? If so, we need to have a little powwow on strategy here.
Abe Carmeli

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HB (original poster)
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#3: Post by HB (original poster) »

Yes, it's me and Mike representing Team HB.

We discussed the format and considered making it "competitors' choice" for equipment since Mike and I will have few opportunities to practice on competition gear. But that would complicate the setup and potentially send the message that the equipment makes the difference, not the barista. So instead we'll go with the standard competition equipment. The only modification will be the double-teaming, which is both for the interest of the audience and my acceptance of the reality that I can't bang out 12 drinks in 15 minutes by myself. It will work well because Mike's and my skills compliment each other. He's the master of the ristretto and I'm pretty good at milk (I joke that Mike only recently discovered that his Silvia has a steam button and that arm wasn't just for running water out of the boiler).

Despite my chiding, it would be imprudent to dismiss Daryn. As he'll remind me from time-to-time, he was the 2003 SERBC champion and he's practicing for the USBC. Even so, Peter is the one I'm watching closely. The guy is cagey.
Dan Kehn

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HB (original poster)
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#4: Post by HB (original poster) »

Pro-Am watch update: This morning was the usual rendez-vous at Counter Culture Coffee's espresso lab. Daryn is already gearing up for USBC and served me an excellent cappuccino. The man has definitely upgraded his frothing skills in recent months, dashing my hopes that he would play the role of "weakest link" in the Berlin-Guilano duo. It took me three attempts to create one even worthy of comparison with his. And so the battle is joined.
Dan Kehn

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malachi

#5: Post by malachi »

If you need a third...
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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HB (original poster)
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#6: Post by HB (original poster) »

Now we're talking! Oh, but technically you would belong to the "Pro" part of Pro-Am, wouldn't you?
Dan Kehn

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malachi

#7: Post by malachi »

Nope.
Currently am receiving no income from any coffee companies.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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HB (original poster)
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#8: Post by HB (original poster) »

True enough, but in keeping in the Pro-Am spirit, I think another venue for your professionally-developed talents would be better. For example, a Portafilter.net Smackdown with Nick Cho? I would gladly bid for the right to be sensory judge for that lineup (proceeds going to charity, of course). :D
Dan Kehn

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malachi

#9: Post by malachi »

or maybe a podcast smackdown?
PF.net vs CG.com?
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

Daryn Berlin

#10: Post by Daryn Berlin »

OH DAAAAAN. Come out to playaaaeeeaaa!

Bring it on my long winded, slow espresso makin', way too awake at 7:30am brotha'!

I here a lot of talkin', but no specifics. You had the idea, now how about proposing a format.

YEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAWWWWW!!!!!!!