Continuing in my attempts to digest all that has gone on of late - here is a recap of the huge party thrown here at Stumptown and the various visitors we had.
As I've mentioned before, a while back Duane decided that the SCAA show would be a great excuse for Stumptown to throw a bash. After a lot of thought and planning, we ended up with about 50 people heading down to Portland from Seattle after the show for the event. Add to this another 20 people who were already going to be here and another 20 or so Stumptown employees and you get the picture.
The guest list included tons of Europeans (roasters brought down by Mercanta, folks from Solberg & Hansen, various Danish espresso luminaries, a whole bunch of WBC competitors and judges, Kees and his crew, the Icelanders, etc.) as well as Japanese CoE cuppers, Costa Rican coffee producers, journalists from Barista Magazine and Roast Magazine and tons of other coffee folks chosen by Duane for their passion, their personality and their general coolness.
This worked out brilliantly as the vibe in the space was excellent. After a long (long) weekend of shmoozing and talking coffee everyone was ready to cut loose and just have fun. The space was packed with interesting people - all of whom either knew eachother or had someone in common in the building. People were happy. It just felt right.
DJ Ism was on the decks and was seriously rocking the joint. He not only tracked the mood of the party and followed it perfectly - he amplified it. It was one of those great examples a DJ doing his best where there was a great synergy between him and the crowd. There was dancing, there was toe-tapping and head-nodding. There were block rocking beats and hip hop heros. Sweet!
Food was provided by John, the brilliant chef of Navarre, and his crew from Bar Pastiche as well as the folks from Dan and Louis' Oyster Bar. A constantly replenished supply of authentic tapas came out of the dishwashing room, keeping everyone happy. Highlights included the amazing shredded rabbit and marinated radish on toast and the salt cod brandade stuffed peppers. There was Pilsner Urquell, Delerium Tremens, Chimay Cinq Cents and La Chouffe on tap.
Kyle, Steve, Tim, Ellen and Blake were manning the bar. We had the Hairbender and two single origin espresso flowing. The Rwanda Karaba was deeply chocolately, with a tight bright core of acidic fruit and flowers. The El Salvador CoE Las Nubitas was like apples dipped in caramel, sweet and lovely.
This was - without a doubt - the party of the whole SCAA weekend. And it took place three hours south in Portland. Grin. One thing you can always say about the Stumptown... we know how to party.
Obviously, all the folks who came to the party were around. This was like Oscar night. It was opening night of a new restaurant. It was launch of a new cruise ship. Everyone had to be on their A Game as this was NOT the time for something to go wrong.
And everything went very well indeed. Baristas kicked ass with the drinks. Managers kept everything ship shape. Brilliant.
The day after the party, Duane and Matt and Jodi loaded all the visitors into vans and did a tour of Portland. We hit the Kobos roastery as well as all the Stumptown roastery and all the cafes and finished at Crema. It was really fun and, according to the folks involved, it was an incredibly rewarding experience. People were served great coffees, learned a ton and got to meet lots of nice people.
Visitor after visitor commented on the incredible quality of the coffee and on the beauty of the cafes and on the professionalsm of the staff. We actually had a whole bunch of people tell us that the best coffee they had while here for the show was at Stumptown and had a couple people comment that it was the best in their life.
I'm so proud of the staff here. They did amazing work.
What I found coolest about the whole thing was that these were people who knew coffee. And they were people who were doing things differently than how Stumptown does them. But there looked at Stumptown and not only appreciated what is going on here - but understood it.
As good as it was to go to the SCAA show and the WBC, there is no doubt in my mind that the couple days here with everyone was the high point for me. A better party, a higher concentration of interesting people, as much learned and better coffee.
And then I slept for two days.