USBC - semis

today was the semi-finals of the USBC.
i don't know yet who advanced to the finals and to be honest couldn't even begin to try and handicap it.
my feelings are that there are maybe 10 people who right now could be considered candidates to win it all.
but there are only 6 spots in the finals.

in other words, there are going to be 4 very good baristas who don't get to the finals this year.

overall, the skill level (especially when it comes to presentation and demonstration of knowledge of coffee) has jumped dramatically.

a couple quick photos (thanks to Valerie)...


monster redux

the excitement continues to grow - people are getting all worked up about the new espresso machine.

we can't wait.

in the meantime, folks from other coffee businesses have been contacting me about it.
people are blown away.
there are tons of questions.

in general, my response has been (and continues to be)...
come and check it out once we've got it installed.

Kees saw the photos i posted and sent over some better ones.
you've been warned - so here are some better shots of the new monster!


gaining perspective

i'm feeling really silly about all the whining about my leg.
suddenly having someone i know - someone i care about - who was truly fighting for her life has made me realize how trivial my issues are. even knowing that she seems to have turned a corner and might be out of the woods - it's still so disturbing to think of her scared and hurting.

all the drama in the coffee world...
all the nuances of this cup versus that cup...

it's all become so unimportant.

we're a family here at Stumptown.
come back to us soon girl. we miss you.


hmmm... coffees from Sumatra...

you know - i've never been a huge fan. of course - that's a generalization. there are the periodic coffees from Sumatra that i've enjoyed and every once and a while one comes along that blows me away.
but as a general rule, they just don't do it for me.

so today i sample cupped three coffees from Sumatra.
the first one was exactly what i would have expected from a high-quality Sumatran. all the classic sweetness, the syrupy body, the notes of earth and herbs -- but with enough crisp acidity to give it a little balance. nice - a good blender - something that would appeal to the folks who just love Sumatra.
the second was unusual... the dry aromas were amazing - really nice fruit and some complex and complicated and intertwined tobacco and leather stuff going on. really enticing. when hot, this was a very interesting and unusual coffee, though slightly phenolic. As it cooled, however, it lost everything except a residual sweetness. no fruit, no earth, no wood... no finish. Flat and boring. sad.
the third... well... the third was outstanding. dry aromas were dominated by lovely fruit and berry tones (raspberry and strawberry and melon). in the cup this was incredibly fruity. initially the fruit came across as slightly tart and slightly sweet - a very interesting and balanced taste. but as it cooled, the sweetness began to emerge and the flavour became more and more intense - culminating in a saliva-generating watermelon jolly rancher tone that was amazing and incredible. what a coffee!!!


the monster

as some of you know, we use some incredible espresso machines at Stumptown. all our locations use the amazing Mistrals made by Kees Van der Westen. these machines are not just incredible espresso machines capable of producing gorgeous espresso - they're also works of art.

well... in any event, our downtown location is large enough so that we have the real-estate to have two Mistrals. this allows us to handle pretty much all the business we could imagine doing down there.

but our other locations are much smaller, and we're really maxing out the three-group Mistrals and our baristas.

so... Duane got Kees to make us the mother of all Mistrals.
the monster machine.

a 5-grp Mistral.
read it and gasp.

in any event, the machine is finished. soon it will be on its way to us.
and below we have the picture of the beauty. mmmm....

I cannot wait