Many that know us understand we take a zig zag approach to specialty coffee....
Yes, we love the history, the quest, the nuances, and success stories, but in return if you aren't having fun then what good is hardwork anyway. Without a budget, and inspiration from Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee why not relax some of the USCC competitors and judges in our version of Baristas In Shops Getting Coffee. For day one we reconnected with a few, but also met a few new coffee peeps.
Tuesday, February 2nd / Set up at Kaldi's Coffee in Downtown KC
Order: A Kenya Thiriku pourover and ham croissant
I walk in and get set up a few minutes early. A couple of early morning jokes with the baristas on bar, and some longtime coffee vets like Chris Berala, Chris Castillo, and later Greg Carlew strolls in sporting his Atlanta Braves hat. I don't think I've seen Greg in anything other than a Royals hat for the last ten years.
Building a little courage, the first victim to my random question, "Hey, you must be here for the barista competition?" was judge Anderson Stockade with Zephyr Green Coffee Importers in New Orleans. Surprisingly this wasn't her first visit to KC, but she seemed excited to be back. We chatted a bit about the new roasters in New Orleans and KC music joints. Check out this NOLA coffee group Anderson is part of.
The first to respond to our post was Nathaniel Bozarth who snagged a seat at the bar next to me. Nathaniel is with Brainroot Light and Sound, and a huge part of the upcoming public television special Re:Dream. The topics related to the project are close to my heart. He was pretty pumped that their promo video released today.
Luckily Nathaniel was sporting his LA pride with his fly Go Get Em Tiger hat. Tyler Brodd from Dinosaur Coffee that was in town for the competition noticed his hat from across the bar. Her and her mom came over and talked to us about how they were shocked KC was so cool and affordable. Yeah, we love it! Had a great chat with Betsey and her daughter. Love the fact they are sharing these memories together.
Left: Nathaniel Bozarth. Right: Mother and daughter representing Dinosaur Coffee for USCC.
Regular customers continued to come in, get their usual, and a Kaldi's team member would tell them bye, and to have a good day. Then, in walks more Cali representation with two from Klatch Coffee, including Todd Goldsworthy. I've known Todd for a while, but have not had the chance to chat with him live since we had coffees together at Sightless in San Fran a few years ago. From what Todd said it sounded like he had a scale or two damaged while traveling, and he was able to pick up new equipment at the coffee shop. Points for the coffee community on the fly.
How I feel at major coffee events.
A sidetone here because it was right about this moment. I'm so used to going home, or back to the hotel when I have to poop, and take a little break. Let's be honest, we're talking coffee consumption here. I didn't really have that option today, so that was a fun test while I sat next to Nathaniel. Don't fret, I keep it classy, and survived the urge. Since I travel so much, and a big part of my job is drinking, I really did miss the convenience of my private room not being close by. Reminded me of this story from Sprudge on the subject.
10:30am rolled around pretty quickly, so I packed up to head over to the Convention Center for the competition. As I walked out I saw Cameron Troy, one of our best local photographers. His Instagram feed is definitely worth following. Had to say a quick hello.
The sun shining in KC for special guest in town.
This all took place in 90 minutes while sitting at the same seat. What I love is that it showcases the potential of a coffee shop experience, and glimpse into what these shops offer outside of just a drink.
Off to the actual event, which is getting started. Time to mingle with folks half my age, and some I've known for over a decade. Bring on the coffee rush!
Tomorrow I'll be at PT's Coffee on Southwest Boulevard. Come by and let's chat. - Jason
Left: Following the signs to find the big event. Right: Jordan with Sprudge and Charlie helping out to cover the event live.