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.
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.