It’s been an exciting and busy last few weeks for everyone involved in the Bay Area coffee industry as we are down to the last few days of preparation for the South Western Regional Barista Competition. Held at Top of the Ritt and hosted by Verve, we are nervous and excited about all of our friends and family competing this weekend to exhibit their skill and passion for coffee and hopefully move on to the US Barista Competition this April. Naturally, our leading contender and all-around favorite is Justin Williams who has proven himself to be a fantastic barista and will be representing Chromatic Coffee throughout the competition season. Tune in here to see him in Santa Cruz on Friday 15th at 11:00 AM PST.
Justin setting up for his presentation
Speaking of Justin and his determination, did any of you make it out for his performance at the Second Annual Mock Barista Competition & Brewer’s Cup last month? If so, you were one of the amazing people who helped make this event even better than last year, and your support for local coffee and local business only makes us more excited for next year’s, and for that, we thank you.
But, in case you missed it, here are some highlights and a bit about the Mock Barista Competition:
Held once a year and sponsored by Verve, us (naturally), and other coffee industry peoples, the mock comp offers baristas a true taste of what to expect at Regionals, and gives them a chance to practice in a more realistic setting than in the comfort of a café using a familiar machine. Not only do we offer a performance section accurately mirroring that of the actual competition, but also a Latte Art Throw-Down to showcase the skills of local and visiting baristas and involve the general public in the excitement of all things fun in their coffee, building camaraderie between shops, and friendships between baristas and customers alike.
Hiver as head-judge for the first competitor, Patrick Domres
This year’s mock comp was held at San Pedro Square Market in conjunction with B2’s opening for their brand new coffee bar featuring a new Synesso Hydra and Hario V60 bar. We have been anticipating the final product, and are so happy and proud of these guys. They were also kind enough to share their new toys for the evening; switching between the local coffee roasting companies, who brought in their own teams to pull shots and exhibit their craft. And if you haven't been to the market, you have to check it out; craft beer, full bar, all different types of vendors, from tacos, to Vietnamese sandwiches, grilled cheese to bone marrow with seasonal roasted vegetables. Great venue for a coffee party.
Out of thirty-six competitors for the Latte Art Throw-Down, it came down to Andrew Villa of the original Bellano in third, Alvyn Villanueva of Chromatic, and Erik Annonson of B2. After an intense and jittery standoff, there emerged one champion, with a beard unmatched by mere mortals: Erik Annonson. And honestly, we couldn't be more proud than to be beaten by the best. Congrats, Erik, you’re one of our favorite baristas of the south bay, and of all time.
Ryan Shafto from B2 and the victor, Erik
Alvyn versus Justin in the first round of the Throw-Down
As far as sponsorship and coffee community involvement, we couldn't have asked for better people to work with. Judges came from all over the bay area to build this competition from the coffee party it was last year to an official Bay Area Coffee Community member-driven event. We were more than excited to have photographers and representatives of Content Magazine and The Metro (amongst others) come out to document and interview the people that participated and helped make all this possible. And look who drove all way the way up from LA to support – close friend and colleague, Alexandra LittleJohn of Verve.
Our fellow sponsors didn't let us down either; Verve provided an MC (Paul) and brought out the “wheel of death” for the Throw-Down, that of which determined the art design, vessel to pour in, and other fun variables to add a different level of difficulty and entertainment for spectators and challengers alike. We busted out the three group Nuova Simonelli and competition specific tables, made for this and other competitions to come.
However, our favorite part of the event (aside from Patrick’s forceful white-out on the Throw-Down against Andrew) was dropping our new coffees: The Teka from Burundi and the Guji Shakiso from Ethiopia. Definitely among our latest favorites, you’ll find these two to exhibit flavors of butter, caramel, and cherries, to juicy, creamy, fruited, and floral subtleties.
Also, we got word the day of the event that we are officially moving into our new roaster space right into the heart of Downtown San Jose, on North 2nd street right off of Santa Clara Street. More to come on that story. But for now, a big thank you to Veronica, Leslie, and Bill Ruckman of Bellano. It has been a pleasure and an honor working alongside these individuals, and we hope to organize more South Bay member driven events in the very near future. See you all in Santa Cruz!