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Seattle Recap: Day 2

A bit slow in coming, but here's a quick rundown of what we did last Friday in Seattle...

The majority of our morning was taken up by hanging around the convention center and taking in the Millrock latte art competition, as the main reason for my trip was to watch and support Kenny as he competed in that event on Saturday -- and hopefully Sunday, if he made the finals. Since he didn't have to go for another day, we just took in the sights of the other competitors doing their thing. A little bit of drama took place as Christopher Nicely Abel Alameda (did I get all of that? whew!) had, through no fault of his own, his connecting flight to Seattle and wasn't able to get there on time to pour as he had been slated to. Fortunately, the specialty coffee community is a small and relatively tight-knit group, and no silly penalties were placed on him for the unfortunate travel tardiness. He poured last and knocked out some killer stuff to qualify for Sunday. (For the record, it is my sincere belief that Nicely's mom obeyed as maaaaaaaaany traffic regulations as she deemed possible during the transport of her son from the airport to the convention hall.) We chatted with Kevin Emmons, whom Kenny and I met and saw pour in Chicago, met and spoke at length with Julian Trigg, and met Chris Deferio, a well-known figure in the specialty coffee industry and with whom we would end up spending a good deal of time with in Seattle. More on that later.

Before heading into the convention itself, we decided to hit up Pike Place Market for some lunch, since we would be taking in bountiful amounts of acid in the espressos and coffees we planned to consume. Believe me, lunch was very necessary.

In walking the convention floor, we saw the five groupheaded La Marzocco Linea that was put together by Espresso Parts specially for a buyer in Japan, with two of the groupheads being modded to be used with tea instead of coffee. We drooled over the Synesso both, where David Schomer got in the way of Kenny's bid to play with a beautiful piece of espresso machinery. We met Alex Negranza (even though I'd been tweeting and texting back and forth with him for some time) at the Visions booth, where I gave him some Ethiopia Moplaco I'd just roasted at the beginning of last week. He'd end up brewing at least one tasty -- I hope -- syphon of it once we left Seattle. The Olympia Coffee Roasting Company booth would turn out to be our favorite place to stop and knock back some espresso and talk shop. It was here that we met Chris, one of their baristas, as well as Michael Elvin, Oliver Stormshak, and Sara Ziniewicz. Sara was dialing in the espresso she would use for the Northwest Regional Barista Competition, Costa Rica La Mirella (honey processed), which Kenny and I got to taste. For the record, it was wonderful.

We spent a good amount of time just sitting in a Starbucks, taking up space, while we waited to decide what we would do. We wound up meeting Deferio for dinner, then walked over to the Coffee Enhancement Lounge for their awesome little party. Correction: we waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalked over to the Coffee Enhancement Lounge for their awesome little party. For a sweet view of the action, check out the La Marzocco USA blog (thanks to Jack Kuo of La Marzocco USA for posting that). Kenny did some behind-the-back pouring, Pablo acquired a new appreciation for the machiatto, and I found out that Michael Elvin, while already being an espresso guru and killer barista, is also a surfer. Aaaahhh, a man after my own heart! The conversations I had with him were perhaps the biggest ongoing highlight of my trip. I also met another Michael (didn't catch his last name), the owner of Trabant Coffee & Chai, one of the handful of places I really regret not making it to while in Seattle. I was able to meet Brian, the owner of Tougo Coffee Company. Tougo was the place I had that killer espresso the day before, the one that tasted like crushed almonds and butter and cream...the whole way through. Dan'l, the barista behind the bar, did some wonderful things with the Del Sol from Caffe Vita. It was there at the CEL that I first formed my very correct hunch that Sarah Dooley is -- to use her own terminology -- a real sweetheart. Undoubtedly one of the nicest people in the coffee business...ever.

Okay...I'm sure there's lots I'm missing, but I think that serves as a decent summation of how we spent our second day in Seattle. More to come.

posted by Bolo | 10:36 PM
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