For the last 12-18 months, it seems there has been a steady succession of challenges and activities to occupy my focus: the 2009 Irish Barista Championship (judging and coaching), WBC Atlanta (coaching), getting the Uber Project blog off the ground, attending the Gold Cup course (while it only took a day, it maintained my interest for weeks), the Irish Cupping Competition, 3FE opening etc. Though I remain involved in a couple of ongoing coffee-related projects, there has been a recent absence of something meaty, challenging.
Despite a dearth of personal and professional free time, I find myself longing for something to obsess over, something to push me out of my comfort zone. That something I hope, is the 2010 Irish Barista Championships, this time, however, as a competitor.
Not being a professional barista, naturally puts me at somewhat of a disadvantage. My homespun, slow, inefficient, meticulous techniques are now nothing but bad habits to unlearn. My milk steaming honed on steaming tiny portions of milk with small aperture steam tips, equally now lacking in value. I have short time to attempt to carve a functional competition barista out of the remnants of years of relatively casual home brewing.
Among my hopes are that this process will not be too harrowing or economically draining. I plan, not to decorate my routine with fancy cups, jugs, linen or crockery, if for no other reason than I cannot afford the expense (who can these days?). I hope to gain new insight into the minutiae of espresso preparation, and perhaps to find a new appreciation for a beverage that ignited my interest in coffee, but in recent times has played second fiddle to filter coffee for my affections.
I know for certain that I can afford to work on my presentation skills. While I have ample experience presenting scientific material, it doesn’t require engaging your audience in the same manner.
Perhaps it will also give me opportunity to get around to some espresso experiments that I had been meaning to do for sometime, but kept putting off.
Probably, above all, I want to present some great coffee and have fun with it.
Already at this stage, I am greatly indebted to a number of people, coffee professionals, from these shores and abroad. They know who they are, and I am amazed and touched by their remarkable capacity for generosity. I shall save the thanks for a later date, but know that without their kindness this wouldn’t be possible.
For now though, there is so much to do, in such a short period of time.