Friday, March 9, 2007

CoffeeFest Chicago 2007 part II

Man, has it truly been a week since that initial post on CoffeeFest? Well, it may almost seem like old news now but I'm still pondering many of the things we gleaned from the trip. The cupping session we had with Phil Beattie from Dillanos was great fun. We cupped four origins including a Brazil, Sumatra, Columbian and one I can't recall just now. My main reason for participating in this session was to learn the format for running a cupping session for a small group. We are going to begin doing some cuppings and tastings here at the Stump sometime soon. I liked the way Phil set the stage for the group to begin experiencing the coffees, with a brief PowerPoint presentation and discussion of the procedure and techniques, as well a couple of good tips for educating one's palate.

I met a couple during the session who were home roasting enthusiasts and the fellow (I'm sorry I can't recall his name) intrigued us with his description of a home-made roaster he devised. He took a small rotisserie oven, had a metal drum crafted and attached to the spindle to hold the seeds and turn while an attached amped-up hair dryer provided the heat. Really kind of ingenious and fun. He said it did, in fact, do the job...of roasting around a quarter-pound of seeds at a time. I imagine that for many this set-up would seem like too much effort for the end result, but I just loved this guy's inventiveness and passion.

We stopped by one booth that had La Pavoni espresso machines of the bar style we have at the Stumpjack. The sales person showing us their machine was a little surprised that we had the model that we do, saying that we might be the first ones to have this machine in the states. Cool.

We spent a pretty fair amount of time checking out the vendors who supply gelato, which we're planning on adding to our menu this summer. Kim learned some things about smoothie prep and is amping up that part of our menu as well. We also watched parts of the Latte Art competition and the Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition. Matt Riddle, who took 3rd in the world last year in Switzerland (the highest any American has placed up to this point), took the gold with a very polished and smooth presentation. Several folks have placed pics of and video (not the best quality, but worthwhile nonetheless) online and you can check some of them out here: pics and pics and video. And here's a Chicago Trib article on the event. We're definitely planning on attending next year's CoffeeFest event and, who knows, we may even have someone take a shot at competing in the barista competition.

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