Iceland Photos (part 1)

And here comes the photo onslaught...

I'm going to try and post all my photos from the Nordic Barista Cup day by day. I'd post more of them and more frequently, but I'm trying to get through packing and all the prep for moving to Portland so I'm a bit busy. In any event, expect to see at least a couple photos every day for a while.

First... some team photos. Sadly, my photos of the Finland team were horribly overexposed, but don't worry, I have tons of action shots of them coming later. In any event, here are photos of the other teams.







Sometimes you need a sign - and sometimes you just are handed one.

If I had any doubt that the move to Stumptown was a good decision I received such a sign today.

Coffee Review just reviewed two Stumptown Cup of Excellent coffees. The lesser of the two received 92 points. A simple wow is not sufficient I think.

Ken Davids' description of Stumptown in the review is wonderful I think...

"Stumptown Coffee is a small-batch premium roasting company that wholesales its coffees as well as serves them in French press format in its three Portland cafes. Under the youthful and enthusiastic leadership of Duane Sorenson, Stumptown has become a leading buyer and supporter of Cup of Excellence coffees."

He gave the El Salvador Montecarlos Peaberry 94 points and the El Salvador Las Nubitas (a personal favorite) 92 points.

For those who don't know - Coffee Review is the formost cupping review in the industry and Ken Davids is one of the top cuppers in the world. He rarely gives any high grades to coffees (95 is, I think, the highest rating he's ever given out).

This is a huge compliment and an awesome accomplishment.


someone today asked me what the best thing about the Nordic Barista Cup was. i could not answer immediately. i've thought about it a lot since then, and have my answer.

this was the first international competition for the Finns. they were so great - it was incredible to watch them soaking it all in. they were so excited, so amazingly cool. and now they're going to go back to their various bars in Finland with not only the knowledge gained but this enthusiasm and a renewed passion and excitement - and it will spread within those bars.

in essence, i just got to see the germination of a sea change in the Finnish coffee world i think.

the same thing is going to happen in the US as a result of this event - but on a different scale so it will be less dramatic. the US is such a huge country and the shops represented here are such a tiny tiny minority of the coffee businesses in the US that it simply cannot have the viral effect that it could have in Finland.

i hope that, instead, we can replicate an event similar in some ways to this event in the United States - and then use that to create a sea change of our own.

i actually really hope i'll have the chance to come to Norway next year for the next Nordic Barista Cup - if only to see how the Finns do.

Photos from the Nordic Barista Cup

total photo assault will commence on my return, but here are some teasers...

The victorious Danish team in action in the "speed shot" phase of the competition.

Swedish fan support was truly amazing.

Intelligentsia Represent!

Super sweet little Probat sample roaster!!

Alternative Nordic Band or American Baristas?

Sarah and Jodi at the Geyser.

Ellie gets up close and personal with a real Icelandic cow.

Brent and Jodi.

Ellie, Amber, Stephen and WBC Champ Tim.

Tim, fascinated by the Hairbender pulled through the Naked Portafilter.


I'm more than happy to admit that I was rash and even wrong.
I just had two espresso drinks that were quite good. Different from what I'm used to, but very enjoyable none the less. A cappuccino (the proportions of milk to espresso were not as I'm used to) and an espresso ristretto (less concentrated than what I make). Both quite drinkable.

It's interesting.
I think that I'd heard so much about the incredible skills of the Nordic baristas that I had built up these expectations in my mind. I really thought that I'd come here and have nothing but mind-blowing espresso drinks. Instead, I have found that it's like it is anywhere else. Being a barista is hard and there are good barista and bad barista. The majority, however, lie somewhere in between the two extremes.
But as a result of the expectations, I assumed that a couple poorly prepared drinks meant that espresso here was bad. If it were not for the expectations, I would not have made this assumption - I would have been prepared instead for the majority of espresso drinks being mediocre at best.

So I leave here knowing that the top Nordic baristas have incredible skill.
And knowing that they represent a minority of baristas here - just as they do elsewhere.
Espresso still has a long way to go.

Iceland - ending

This is all surreal in so many ways... The country, the setting, the event, the shit that's been happening...
- the other night we went on a tour of dairies. At the last one they announced that there was a surprise competition event for the teams. They had to milk a cow and then make a cappuccino out of the milk on a home machine in the dairy.
- The end of the first day, at about 9PM, we all got in some buses and drove out into the countryside where we went to a bridge that connects the two tectonic plates (North America and Europe) and had a cocktail party outdoors in the rain in the dark with dried fish and "black death" schnapps where the Mayor of the town gave a speech in the freezing cold about the geology of the area and fish.
- When we got off the plane here, we got lost in the airport trying to find a taxi and were outside in the rain (and dark and cold) and ran into Ellie and Amber from Intelligentsia). Actually, it is a very small country, and you run into people all the time.

The skill of the baristas here is incredible. Dazzling in fact.
The compeitition has been pretty amazing. Not just the skill, but the passion and committment of the companies and the individuals.
As I noted before, I don't particularly like the espresso style - but that's personal taste I guess.

Jodi brought some Hairbender and I went into the training room yesterday during the comp and pulled shots of it. You should have seen the smile on Jodi's face when she took her first sip...

My hotel is weird - but so much better than the first place. Initially we were staying out near the airport. The hotel was seriously Soviet Block. This new place (in town) is more like some sort of Danish Modern upscale youth hostel.

I've met a ton of good people. Really nice, really smart people.I've learned a bunch - and had some great discussions. I figure I've made more friends than enemies.

We've been lost every single time we've driven anywhere. But it's always worked out through some freak accident. We keep trying to follow the tour buses everyone is on - but they keep doing weird things and ditching us (running red lights, joining a queue of 3 other identical buses and then splitting onto different exits from a roundabout). Exciting!

I demonstrated the naked portafilter yesterday. It was a hit. I think news will now make it back to La Marzocco about it (perhaps they'll also hear my opinion of the basket design). I have a photo of Tim Wendelboe with a huge shit eating grin pulling a shot of Hairbender through a naked portafilter. Lovely!!

And now the event is over.
Denmark was the winner. They were wonderful in their presentation. Smooth, polished, professional - but obviously having a lot of fun with it all. There was no sense of being forced, no standoffishness.
The final dinner and cocktails were hysterical. There was national team Karaoke. There was shit-talking, champagne drinking and there was tasty lamb.

We should do something like this in the US. Maybe a US version with the various regions having teams? Maybe something with US, Canada and Mexico? It would and should be fun.