Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Latest Art

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More On Coffee Fest - Las Vegas

I love conventions. I love walking up and down the isles, hearing all of the salesmen, seeing demonstrations, sampling, sampling, sampling. I like the fact that most of the vendors are trying to put their best foot forward and win you over as a possible customer. You should, as a possible customer, be treated like gold. Full attention from someone who is extremely knowledgeable about the product they are representing is an exciting opportunity for me, a possible buyer, to see a product in action being handled by someone who is properly trained and getting the most from that product.

Then, there are the companies who send young pretty girls to represent them, who have as much knowledge about a product that a 3x5 card will allow. These companies make me ill. I'm not that stupid or shallow to drop 8K on a machine because you have a Britney Spears clone in a low cut top talking about the automatic milk frother works. PLEASE!! Get a freaking clue!! Or the espresso salesmen who don't know how to properly pull a shot of espresso!! I'm not going to buy espresso from you if you serve me an 8 second pour and expect me to be blow away by the rich flavor. And really, I saw way to many portafilter lying on drip trays when not in use. Who the hell trained these guys and sent them out to represent their company? And the owner of Astra, who handed me an 8 second shot poured by his new Super-Auto. I handed it back to him and said, "Sorry, that was a little too fast for me. It's too bitter".

And, zero representation from the BGA. Are they trying to make it as wide spread as possible? Even the SCAA booth didn't have ant info concerning the BGA. How serious is this guild?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Coffee Fest - Las Vegas

It’s Monday, 1:10am and I’m writing this listening to the chatter of 28 college students who are “studying” for their finals this week. Coffee Fest – Las Vegas just finished up and I’m replaying the events over and over again in my mind, trying to remember every detail, every persons name, every new product… but I’m getting dizzy trying to remember it all. I’ll start slow.

My weekend began with the, “Hands on Barista Training” workshop. It was about what I expected, “This is a steam wand”… “ This is a portafilter” ooo’s and aww’s coming from some of the people in the crowd. It was basically everything one would cover while training a new employee. Very basic, but very thorough. Tommy, the lead instructor, was very knowledgeable and very capable of breaking down a lot of information into bite sized, easy to chew bits of information that anyone could grasp a hold of. The other instructors, James, Erika and the “tall guy” (sorry, I forgot your name… please note the time above) were also very capable trainers.

Along with the “Hands On” portion of the training, was a small booklet briefly covering the origin of coffee, the trading of coffee, the growth and development of brewing, the evolution of the espresso machine as well as the evolution of the espresso bar, important books that have come out contributing to the industry and a brief segment stressing the importance of community and customer service. Good stuff.

In all, it was a very thorough introduction to the coffee industry. Being that this was the first time Coffee Fest has offered this type of training, I understand that it is in its birthing stage. However, I would love to see a 3 day training program that covers a lot more.
“Hands On Barista Training” is a good “day one” class, but there needs to be an extension for the barista who has been in the business awhile and wants to expand their knowledge on different levels. Offer something along the lines of, “Machine Maintenance and Setup”, and cover basic repair/part replacement, how to set the boiler pressure, how to adjust the pump pressure, shower screen replacement, group head gasket replacement etc. basic stuff that a “Pro” barista should know. How about a class called “Finishing Touches” Cover presentation of espresso beverages, choosing proper cups, the importance of latte art, looking professional behind the bar etc. These are small things that can make a big difference in setting your café apart from the others. How about, “Signature Drink Building” (self explanatory). I would just like to see a more in depth certification program.

I met some really cool people while there.
David Morris of Dillanos Coffee
David Heilbrunn(spelling?) of Coffee Fest
Wally of Wally Biscotti
Reid & Gavin of Zoka Coffee
Sheri of Cup of Excellence
And I finally got to meet Terry Z. of Espresso Parts Northwest. One of the coolest guys ever.

All of these people are absolute class acts. Very nice, humble and willing talk and share with anyone who was willing to listen.

I can’t wait to go to the next Coffee Fest. I’m debating between the show in Colorado or the show in Seattle. Hmmm… Seattle it is! See you there.