Well, here we are. It's December! Nearly Christmas! Whoop!
So, for my first post in fe'king ages I'm going to go over a couple of things. Firstly, my goals for December, and secondly a write up of the Newcastle Barista Jam.
So, December aims. As some of you may have noticed, posts have dried up somewhat. I am going to rectify this. I was dumped by my girlfriend of three and half years on Thursday, so I'll have loads of time to blog to you all! The blog will also be moving away from the cupping side of things. In the past I've relied on tastings to fill out weeks when I've had nothing to talk about. With Common Grind moving more towards the cupping side of things I've decided to move more towards the day-to-day life of a barista, with some french press tastings thrown in. This will include a fairly regular, detailed run up to the three competitions I'm entering. These are the UKBC, Coffee In Good Spirits, and the Cuptasting competiton.
So, no for the write up. The Jam took place on Wednesday 26th, at Pumphries Coffee in Blaydon. To be honest I had no idea what to expect from the Jam, the people attending, or even Pumphries. Fair enough I had ideas about what Pumphries would be like; mediocre coffee roasted months ago with a huge sales pitch. I have to state now that I was totally wrong. The coffee was great, if a bit fresh, and the closest thing to a Pumphries sales pitch was the free bag of goodies we got when we turned up.
So, I turned up, was offered a coffee by Stu, and got to meeting and greeting the people I met. People seemed to have turned up from everywhere. There were a couple of guys from Scotland, some from Bristol, Chris Weaver, Ash Porter and Richard Teasdale from Lincoln, and local kids such as myself and a fantastic local girl called Katie (who won the Esquires Coffee in-house comp).
The day itself was made up of a series of workshops and hands on time. The first part of the day included espresso with Hugo Hercod (an amazing workshop worth my weight in gold), a cappuccino workshop with the someone who's name escapes me at the moment (Sorry man, but your workshop was fe'king awesome), and a run down of the rule changes for the '09 UKBC. After that we were treated to a run down of Hugo's presentation, a taste of Stu's bizarre, but tasty garlic/chocolate sig drink, and a huge buffet lunch. After that we got time on the new San Remo machines we'll be using in the UKBC and a trip down to the roastery.
The day as a whole was fantastic, well worth the £25 I paid to go. The only blip was a speech by the SCAE UK director. It turned what was an informal series of workshops/networking event into a sales pitch for the SCAE sponsors. I'm not sure about anyone else, but to me it felt totally out of place, and I'm not sure I felt entirely comfortable with it. He didn't do himself any favours in my opinion by asking us baristi to join, then saying that really our money didn't matter as much as the sponsors, who we should all go and buy lots of things from. On top of that he totally forgot to mention the huge effort Stu made, and Pumphries involvement in the Jam altogether. So I'd like to say now:
Thank you Stu for a fantastic event, thank you Paula for tremendous name badges, and generally for all your effort in organising the event. Thank you Pumphries for inviting us all to use your space and equipment. We all of us appreciated you effort, and I for one am waiting for the next one :p
So there we go. An educational event, and great for networking. I'm now better friends with Katie (who I knew before the event, but had never really considered training with before the event), I've finally met Chris Weaver and Ash Porter, who really are tremendous guys and you should all go and see his website, and listen to his blog.
So, I'll sign off now, with the promise that I will carry on blogging regularly and stop being so lazy lol.
Also, I realise I've spelt Pumphrey's wrong all this time, but it's 1am, I'm tired and I have a twelve hour shift at work, starting at 6:45...