What a week!! The World of Coffee has just wrapped up with Berg Wu of Taiwan winning, huge congrats to him and all the competitors. Also a special mention for Natalia Piotrowska representing Ireland who I’m sure will be back. I am still mystified as to how these guys do it. This week I had my own barista champion to cheer on, Martin Shabaya the Kenyan representative.
I met Martin last Monday when he casually approached the kiosk in Ballsbridge and asked where could he roast some coffee. It turns out Martin left Kenya with his coffee still in its raw green state with the hope of meeting someone to roast it. I was the first person he met, what a story!! I felt compelled to help him, as a strange twist of fate Vicky Fitz-Henry an all round legend had arranged to meet me at the roastery on Monday also. Vicky was on hand to advise Martin & when the coffee was roasted we went out for dinner and found a trad session for Martin to take part in (as you do on a Monday).
Tuesday saw the design/manufacturer of our roaster turn for a roasting consultation and information sharing session, that evening was the first of two masterclasses with Scott Rao hosted by the guys in CloudPicker. The brewing class was informative with Scott as engaging, informative and challenging as expected. His knowledge and ideas around grinding, pouring and brewing are extensively researched and verified but are also simple and easy to understand. Wednesday saw me actually do some work in the AM but we got to catch Martin’s performance which mirrored his laid back personality and friendliness.
I feel like I’ve made a friend for life. In the evening it was time for round two with Scott Rao and the roasting masterclass which is probably my most comfortable environment. Anybody who has read Scott’s book on roasting will know how comprehensive and informed it is. I actually left the class early due to prior arrangements and the fact Ireland were to play Italy in Lille. I spent the welcome party which was held in the “round room’ at the Mansion House in the company of friends and colleagues. We of course over did it and partied long into the night.
Thursday was my first time to arrive at the RDS and the awesome World of Coffee. The amount of exhibitors and new innovations were incredible. It was really nice to meet old and new friends alike. We decided to call it an early night Thursday. Friday the day passed by and I felt like the exhibit closed early but realised it was just a mark of how much I was enjoying it. We attended the Bernard Shaw on Friday and the coffee throwing championships, my good colleague Shane competed and tried to say “90 plus” as often as possible (it’s one of those you’d have to be there moments) There was a special mention for Rashel who I had never really had the pleasure to know but feel I should mention here. On Saturday I got to spend more time with Bobby and Yvonne from Twobeans and Tiago my good friend and see some of the finalists compete.
Of all the new gadgets and machines two really struck me as game changers, one I bought, the other will haunt me until I get my hands on it. The CM 100 from LIGHTTELLS colour meter is a serious piece of kit. It is endorsed by the SCAA and also featured on the Sinar stand which filled me with confidence, anyone who has used one of their measurement tools will know why. The second product which was in my opinion the overall stand out machine on display was not the new Slayer Steam (which is awesome) but the new Dalla Corte Mina. This machine allows users to run at constant 9bar water pressure while allowing control over the flow valve in literally hundreds of positions creating real control over pre-infusion and flow. Manual/automatic lever control profile storing, the ability to brew perfect filter coffee fromt he espresso machine. All this and controls from your smartphone make this machine a must for the roastery allowing you to tailor individual roast profiles to suit individual espresso machine pressure. As with all of these events you realise how much there is still to learn about coffee and how absolutely brilliant the people who work in this industry are.