There are a whole lot of people spending a lot of time talking shit on the internet about espresso. I'm not going to suggest that people stop - hell no. But rather, I'm going to suggest that people put some reality behind their big talk.
Put Up or Shut Up 2006
I'd like to propose the creation of an event to occur in conjuntion with the SCAA 2006 show in North Carolina. This event is not intended to be a competition, per se, but rather a chance for folks to back up their words.
Haven't you wondered about the smack various people spout on the internet about their espresso? Haven't you wished you could taste their shots and see if these folks really do know what they're talking about? Haven't you wanted to show off - to demonstrate that your espresso really is that great?
Well... this would be your chance.
What I'm suggesting is an event where "internet smack talkers" get a chance to pull shots and make drinks for peers and judges. The idea is roughly as follows (though I'm open to suggestions).
As with the USBC, there would be three "stations" that have identical setups. Baristas would have a set time period (I'm thinking 30 minutes) to check their equipment, dial it and their coffee in, etc. They then would have to make three drinks each for three tasters. The tasters would probably consist of a peer (another "shit talker" entered in the event), an experienced judge (USBC, WBC, whatever) and an average espresso enthusiast or barista. The three drinks would be as follows (in this order):
1 - espresso
2 - espresso per taster's request
3 - milk drink
The second drink would allow a judge to request a ristretto - or a shot that was sweet - or a shot that featured the dark chocolate in the espresso. These would be requested after the first shots had been served.
Milk drinks would be up to the barista.
There would be no presentation scores, no technical scores - instead the tasters would merely grade the quality of the drinks served and, most importantly, would provide tasting notes for each drink. These would be published on the internet (of course).
There would, as with the USBC, be time limits but these would be far more relaxed than with the USBC.
We'd see no winner, no finals but rather merely publication of the results.
Baristas could either bring their own coffee or work with coffee provided for them by the event.
I'm also thinking that it would be great if "spectators" could taste drinks as well in some way.
I'm more than willing to try and line up machines, coffee and even a space for this.
In addition - I'll gladly, as one of the biggest shit talkers on the internet, throw my hat into the ring as the first barista.
I figure we'll have no trouble lining up folks willing to taste and criticize. Let's see who is willing to put their 'net rep on the line.... Let's see who can back up those words.
Those of you who are in the shit talking category know how to reach me. If you're interested... drop me a line.