thoughts

Post-Mortem

I’m writing this now, reflecting at home after the semi finals of the Irish Barista Championships (with no intention of posting this until after the competition). I’m pleased to report I’ve made the final 6, but disappointed with nearly everything else. Some early small, unnecessary mistakes threw me so much that I made a spectacular series of mistakes. It felt as though the wheels were about to come off at any point and some inner sub-conscious force propelled me forward. It wasn’t the performance I planned, and it certainly wasn’t the performance the coffee in particular deserved.

I guess in way it was an incredibly concentrated learning experience.

Either way, tomorrow I hope to deliver the performance I had planned, to construct the drinks to the level I know they can be. If I can achieve that I don’t care if I finish in 6th. There’s nothing worse than knowing they could be better, and the blame is entirely yours.

To tomorrow!

Looking back on those words now, I am much happier. Having gotten up there once, the second time was much closer to what I wanted. Perhaps I relaxed too much, going over time pretty substantially (25 seconds). Nonetheless, the most important thing for me was to serve Tim Wendelboe’s Panacoffee (Finca La Milagrosa) the way I intended. The technical side of my scoring was not really of the same standard as the coffee.

Its been a crazy six weeks since I threw my hat into the ring. I’ve learned an enormous amount, certainly it has been a very worthwhile experience. I won’t lie, at times it was quite frustrating, tedious, it even seemed like some kind of crazy masochistic ritual.

I have to thank a load of very selfless people who helped me. Karl Purdy of Coffee Angel loaned me a La Spaziale S5 and a heavily modified Mazzer Super Jolly, to practice with and use in the competition, completely free of charge. Amazing generosity. The ever magnificent Paul Stack sent out one of his Marco crack-technicians to plumb it in.

Tim Varney and Tim Wendelboe presented me a selection of amazing coffees, any one of which would have been a great choice. Anyone who reads this blog probably knows the high regard I hold their buying and roasting of coffee. To put it simply, I have never had a coffee from Tim Wendelboe’s that I thought could have been roasted any better.

Tim Varney is also owed a debt of gratitude for talking me down off a ledge with some of my earlier competition music choices. Good call.

Paul Radin, whom I have yet to meet, of CoffeeHit.co.uk sent me a mammoth timer equipped BNZ Conical. Until about 2 days before the competition I was planning to use 2 coffees, then I realised the machine table space at the IBC was going to be practically non-existent (1 meter across), so I opted to leave  the BNZ and a second coffee at home (I found the Mazzer a hair more consistent with timed dosing, albeit twice as slow).

I want to thank Hector Vargas, the farmer from La Milagrosa. I spoke to Hector a little on email, talking about what they do on the farm. Got some amazing insights to their operation. Really like this line from his email:

“The name La MILAGROSA its because of the constant good results or miracles that we have had with our coffee since the begining, thanks to God. I can say that it is a MIRACLE, that our coffee takes place in Panama, is roasted in Norway and it is served in Ireland.”

My father who did the (raw) milk runs from my Grandfather’s farm in Mullinavat (about a 200 mile round trip), and also constructed me a knockbox surround.

My best friend Fergus, who sat through many run-throughs and became a general dogsbody on the final day.

Mostly to my wife, who put up with 6 weeks of disruption to our house, with countless run-throughs, discussions, advice, she in essence became my manager… and she doesn’t even drink coffee.

Big congrats to Colin. Super guy, super barista. I know he’ll do an amazing job in London.

I’m sure I will have more to add later. For now, over and out.

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15 thoughts on “Post-Mortem

  1. Marie says:

    The credit is all yours! You put your heart and soul into it and it paid off. Fantastic result considering all your other responsibilities. Very proud of you! :o)

  2. Chris C says:

    Huge congrats David! As a former home barista myself, I always wanted to see a home barista compete in one of these competitions. You did your fellow HBers proud! I think you tweeted that you’re leaning towards not competing next year, but I hope you’ll reconsider.

    Cheers, and again, great work!

    • Posted on Good piece.I was heavily into the Thrawn tigroly and some other stuff when I was about 14. I think ultimately that’s the era that any sort of expanded universe Star Wars, Star Trek, etc really, really worked for me, because I felt like I *needed* it. I needed MORE Star Wars and MORE Star Trek and, to be honest, I don’t think I really cared too much about the quality. (I also needed it to be sanctioned somehow, which I guess is why fanfic did not quite fill this gaping need hey, even if whatever isn’t technically canon, it is LICENSED and has a LOGO.)Though I still think the Zahn stuff is actually good.That’s about where my feelings on the EU end I appreciate that it’s there, I suppose. Certainly not against it, but haven’t read much of it since that specific era.

  3. Big Congratulations to you David. I witnessed your performance and thought it was very professional an really solid. One might even think you are a full time barista 😉 It is simply fantastic to watch you when you prepare and present Hector’s coffee that we have roasted with such a great understanding of what it is all about.
    Well done and a well deserved 3rd place. Hopefully you only lost to the next coming world champion…

  4. alastair says:

    Any doubts about what you’ve achived should be dispelled when you consider that; you’re not a barista! (any hobbyist – in it’s non-pejorative sense – competing against pros has a mountain to climb), you came into this comp pretty late in the day, and you didn’t have pineapples at your disposal.

    As a brew-snob you should be pretty chuffed. Not only are you one of the interweb’s top coffee pundits, but you’re now undisputedly qualified in the national tastin’ and makin’ stakes.

    I’m just disappointed that you didn’t run away with the Brewhaha prize too. Under-achiver!

  5. michael Phillips says:

    I have to say it was a gutsy move with an impressive outcome. Dont write off next year just yet… gestate on it for a bit.

  6. David – your continuing guts, bravado and talent never cease to amaze. You contribute without ransom and comment with cred.

    Without doubt, you walk the talk! Congrats…

  7. Gerry says:

    3rd place, you gotta be happy with that, I know I would, well done. Obviously you put in the time and effort and deserved your reward.

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