Alex Pond (pictured above making his signature drink) of The Fresh Pot won of the 2009 Northwest Regional Barista Competition (NWRBC). Kevin Fuller of The Albina Press and Robbie Britt of Zoka Coffee Roasters came in second and third respectively. These were the top three of the six finalists who battled it out to determine the top barista in the Pacific Northwest region.
The competition which started on Friday and run through today, Sunday. It featured some of the more recognizable coffeehouses in the Seattle and Portland area. Personally, as I was looking at the list of entrants, I was much more familiar with the Seattle coffeehouses as I was with the Portland ones.
Although I didn’t attend the finals today, I had driven down to Tacoma yesterday, to the Temple Theatre where the competition were being held, to check out the heats that led to the selection of the six finalists for today. These six finalists were Robbie and Brett from Zoka Coffee (Seattle), Kristina from Lava Java (Ridgefield/Portland), Alex from The Fresh Pot (Portland), Kevin from The Albina Press (Portland) and Michael from Espresso Parts (Olympia).
The basic format of the competition was as follows. The competitors are each given fifteen minutes to prepare four espressos drinks, four cappuccinos and four of their own signature drinks. These drinks were then served to a panel of four judges who watched the proceedings intently and judged the barista on proficiency and preparation, cleanliness of work area and their knowledge of the specific coffee blend that they used. They also judged the barista on taste of their drinks. It was interesting to note that there were four sitting judges that actually tasted the drinks, but it also looked like there were an additional four or so judges that were walking around the espresso station also judging, but these roaming judges did not actually taste the prepared drinks.
Each year a different coffee roasting company will host the competition. This year, Dillanos Coffee Roasters hosted the competition and the espresso machines are provided by the Italian manufacture, Nuova Simonelli. The Barista Magazine blog has a post about the heats, they also have a post on the finals and pictures of the participants and their support teams. You can also find current and past information on the various barista competitions at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Northwest competitions web page.
I have included here is the full list of all the coffee roasters or coffeehouses represented. I think these would be interesting coffeehouses to visit since they obviously take pride in their espresso drinks and sharing their skills with others.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Seattle)
Zoka Coffee Roasters (Seattle)
Trabant Coffee (Seattle)
Victrola Coffee (Seattle)
Satellite Café (Tacoma)
Espresso Parts NW (Olympia)
Olympia Coffee RoasOng (Olympia)
Batdorf & Bronson (Olympia)
Lava Java (Ridgefield)
Blend Coffee (Portland)
The Fresh Pot (Portland)
Little Red Bike Café (Portland)
Coffee House 5 (Portland)
Coffee Bean International (Portland)
The Albina Press (Portland)
Mon Ami Café (Vancouver BC)