Two Unrelated Points About Coffee

If you truly love coffee and you’ve written Kaldi’s off, don’t!

While I’ve personally been critical of them in the past, I’ve never disliked them as a roaster and it’s time for an update because over the last couple years, as they’ve gotten into direct sourcing of green coffee and consumer education, they’ve raised the bar in regards to what coffee can be in St. Louis. Many of these beans have been fantastic and Kaldi’s regularly hosts educational cuppings and brewing demonstrations in each of their locations to teach you about what the various regions and varietals of coffee taste like, and how to get the most from them at home.


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SCAA Midwest Regional Barista Competition

SCAA Midwest Reginonal Barista Competition Round 1 Day 2 that is…

I’m not yet styling a DSLR like some of the other photo snappers I saw (McCracken), so while I’m sure some better shots will come out of the weekend, what I lack in quality I make up for in swiftness to the web.

[flickr align=”right” style=”padding-left: 5px;”]photo:2254502080(small)[/flickr]This is Alex Brooks. Saturday was his first barista competition.

On my initial quest for good cappuccino in St. Louis Ellie and I somehow found ourselves in St. Charles at Picasso’s Coffeehouse. Alex worked there, and he was the first person in the city I didn’t have to have a conversation with about what I wanted. He just did it right.

On the weekends we knew he was working we’d go after dinner. And then one day he was gone.

Honestly, I was pissed. It was like losing a dealer; until I found Goshen Coffee that is.

So then Matt tells me he’s hiring a new barista/sales guy for Goshen a few months ago. “Alex” he tell’s us. Ellie and I churn it over, put two and two together, and sure enough, it’s Alex…”Picasso” Alex…our Alex.

You’d be pressed to find someone more enthusiastic than Alex about coffee in St. Louis, and I personally find the whole thing pretty amazing because he was barely 20 when we first met him. He’s 21 now.

If you want a good shot of espresso go to Goshen when he’s working and have him pull the single origin yirgacheffe.

[flickr align=”left” style=”padding-right: 5px;”]photo:2254501834(small)[/flickr]Now this guy is Pete Licata. This was not his first competition.

He’s from PT’s Coffee. PT’s is based out of Topeka, KS, but he is the manager of their store in Overland Park.

Where Alex seemed a bit nervous competing for the first time and didn’t talk much, Licata seemed a lot more relaxed about the whole thing. And he should be. Licata came in second at the US Barista Competition last year, and was therefore the alternate in the World Barista Competition in Japan.

Though I’ve never seen one of these competitions before I can only assume he did not perform as well as he must have at the national competition last year, because his latte art was a bit sketchy from pour to pour. Still you could tell he has skills, and although I didn’t stick around to see who made it to the finals tomorrow, I’d imagine he did fairly well.

Congratulations to everyone that competed though. I’ll be the first one to tell you your coffee sucks, but I can’t even pull a shot of espresso now can I?

But then I don’t have an espresso machine either

If anybody has about $1000 extra dollars to pitch in on a used Rancillio S27, I’ll be happy to practice my heart out and pull you a shot. Another $500 for a Mazzer Mini grinder would be cool too.

Thanks to David from Kaldi’s for the rule info. He made some sort of umami heavy specialty shot with mackerel and seaweed that was far to involved for me to remember. I’m curious what it tasted like.

And here’s the rest of the flickr photo set from Round 1 Day 2:


MoKabe’s Coffeehouse

mokabe cappWhy in 2007 an establishment that bothers to have a non-smoking section situates it in such a manner that you have to walk through the smoking section to get to it I will never understand. And that’s exactly what happened before taking this picture after making it safely to the non-smoking side of MoKabe’s Coffeehouse on Friday.

When you belly up to their counter to place your java order you do so through gasps of smoke filled air. The barista will then proceed to foam milk and poor it into a glass followed by the shots of espresso rather than the other way around. They will then ring you up, and as their last trick, follow your payment by hovering a hand under a little hole they have cut out of the counter where they chide you into tipping. Apparently the vibe they’re going for is: “if you don’t tip you’re not cool enough to be here.”

And just what the hell is that picture? Amazingly it’s a cappuccino. Even more amazingly they put the spoon in it themselves when serving it to me as if it were a root beer float. Kinda looks like one, no?

Shockingly, MoKabe’s wins best coffeehouse all the time. I can only hope it’s the liberal vibe people are applauding and not the coffee. Call me crazy, but when a business slaps the words “coffeehouse” on the side of the building, and then proceeds to win “best coffeehouse,” I think it’s fair to assume they’ll have at least a passable cappuccino. MoKabe’s does not.

Unequivicably the worst I have ever been handed; the hipster baristas hovering hand grabbed nothing more than a handful of air after which I quickly decided I wasn’t cool enough for MoKabe’s and left.

Sadly, it was not before my one brave sip verified my assumption and I made one last detour — to the bathroom to pour it out!