Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nordic Barista Cup 2007

Warning: Very long post
The Nordic Barista Cup is over and it's back to reality.
I hope you followed the event on Barista Magazine's Blog and there's also a great recap over on James' blog.

I arrived to Gothenburg Wednesday evening for the judges' meeting. It was good to see Sonja Grant, Torkel Hulten and Daniel Remheden again and get to meet Bjørn and Mika. Each of us had a "Soft Value" topic to judge, and mine was Problem Solving / Creativity. This meant we would have to get around to all teams during the competitions and evaluate how they were doing compared to each other.

Thurday morning the competition began. The teams presented their business plans for The Future Coffee Shop - something I had been looking forward to. Honestly I was a little disappointed to see they didn't take more risks or were more adventurous in how the future coffee shop might look. Most of the business plans were something you can already find out there. But I guess it's a hard task to come up with something revolutionary and I don't think it's been easy for the teams to find time to plan this.

All teams were earning money for each competition depending on how well they had done. This allowed continuous score keeping. What they couldn't see, though, was how the Soft Value judges were scoring them. That was only announced each evening. I like the format where the teams don't know exactly how they are doing, because it allows all teams to have the feeling they might win until the very end.

All the judges put a lot of weight on how the team interacted with each other and if they were having fun or only worried about winning. From my experience I know it can be stressful to be a team member, but it's so much more fun once you let go and just enjoy it all.

Thursday highlight was the presentation on Nicaraguan coffees by Roberto Bendaña followed by a cupping session and the teams bidding for which coffees they would have available for Saturday. I noticed some teams were great at playing the tactical game during the action getting some coffees very cheaply while others payed a lot.

Friday was Nordic Roaster competition which Solberg & Hansen from Norway won. The teams had the difficult task of brewing espressos and filter coffees for the competition and there were differences in how well they executed the task. Afterwards the teams were presented with a sudden new latte art competition, which weren't on the programme. They had to pour latte art in a small milk pitcher and a cupping tray. For me it was great to see how they responded to the sudden problem, and it was probably the most fun for me to score.

Friday afternoon also featured very interesting lectures by the World Sommelier Champion, Andreas Larsson and Søren Sylvest from Chokolade Compagniet. And of course the auction of the Goat. My famous trophy from the WBC in Bern. Andreas Herzberg from Solberg & Hansen bought it for € 1.500 which will all go to a school in Nicaragua. Congratulations Andreas!

In the evening we had a white party. Everyone was dressed in white and it was so cool to arrive back to the tent, which seemed like walking into an entirely different world. I had much fun with James Hoffmann trying to get one of the white plastic flamingos off the ground.

As the party was closing Casper and Linus arrived with Mads from Copenhagen Roaster. They had stopped in Helsingborg on the way up, to visit Charles and Anne's new coffee shop and roastery there.

I had forgotten my camera at home, but fortunately Linus and Casper brought it with them. So on Saturday I could finally take some pictures.

The final day was open to the public, who could change their Swedish Kroner into B$ (Barista Dollars) and spend them. Each team had set up and decorated a booth in the morning, bought cakes, tea, coffee etc. in the previous day and now it was time to test who had the best business plan in reality. Norway had a lot of helpers from the attendees - maybe too many, Iceland went with an interesting concept: No espresso - Only Clover, Finland had good food at a low cost and Denmark, being stuck in the corner furthest away from the entrance were very active on the floor. All teams did really well, but Sweden was definitely the team that seemed to enjoy the whole event the most and also the ones who worked together the best.

In the afternoon my favourite competition took place: No, not the N'espresso 'cappuccino' competition on which I won't comment... No, it was the Clover Sommelier competition, where each team's sommelier had to present a coffee which a public jury of 15 would have to pair with the description. Denmark nailed it, working really organized and the sommelier had very precise descriptions. Sweden also did very well.

We, the judges, then retreated to our little judges room and talked for a long time about what we had observed in the three days. Although all teams did really well, we all agreed one team had performed outstandingly.

It was a well deserved victory to Sweden.
Congratulations Anne, Emma, Johanna, Peter and Costas!

The winners were announced at the final party / gala dinner, which ended with a small latte art throw-down, which I thought was a lot of fun. Scott Lucey took first place deservedly. When the party closed Linus, Casper, Mads and I went to a club called Sticky Fingers (yes, that was actually the name) and partied till the wee hours.

Next morning we went on a café crawl and of course ran into half the NBC people, who'd gotten the same idea. We visited Da Matteo, where we had a really good espresso. Their blend has great acidity and floral notes. We also saw two very Italian places and definitely had our share of robusta intake for the rest of the year. We also got to say good buy to James, Anette, Anastasia, Scott, Justin, Sarah, Ken, Chris and M'Lissa, who we'd really enjoyed hanging out with.

David from Clover went with us to Linus' parents' boat house and we had a great afternoon enjoying the fresh sea air, an awesome boat ride and some great chili con carne before heading home to Copenhagen.

All in all I cannot wait to see everyone again. The NBC is really like a family reunion and the social aspect of it is what makes it a fun event. Hope you'll all come to Copenhagen for the WBC next year!


Anonymous said...

Why can't you take a normal picture?


Anonymous said...

What can I say... I just like pictures with peoples' mouth open :-)