And, as expected, I don't feel ready. Does anyone ever really feel all the way ready for these things? My guess is "no".
A few more competitors this year than last. A few repeats as well, which is good to see.
This year we have Isaiah from Double Shot in Tulsa Oklahoma competing. Go Double Shot!
We also have Andrew from Stompin' Grounds in Cabot (outside of Little Rock) Arkansas. Hurray for more states being represented!
We still don't have any love from Louisiana, but hopefully they'll warm up to this whole coffee minus chicory thing soon. ;o)
The SWRBC is being held at the same time, same place, and the only company being represented is Coffee Cartel Lab, owned by the gracious Mexican hot-dog host Jason Silberschlag who took Edwin Martinez, David Latourel and me in the back seat on a pretty hectic drive through Tucson back at the AZ jam in '06. He then went to the first FVH trip and chatted with Jaime V.S. about training, and my name popped up. Of course, it never happened (and I'm not even sure it needed to happen, but it's a fun fact nonetheless).
Competing right before me is Mr. Sean Marshall of Catalina Coffee in Houston, but also of Fusion Beans, a coffee consultancy he co-runs(co-ran?) with a partner. What's interesting is that Sean contacted me a little over a year ago with a request for training. We were on, but funds were tight. It never happened.
But what I am most thrilled about on a personal level is that Nat Long and Skylar Stevens, both from Sugar Brown's Coffee will be competing. Rock! I am no longer the phil-proclaimed "Lubbock Lone Ranger". Yes, I know, you can't believe it. I have friends. In Lubbock. That care about coffee quality. It tends to happen, you know? You show a bunch of people a good thing, and eventually some of them start to catch on.
SB is the birthplace of the concept for this year's signature drink, and I am happy to see them represented at this year's SCRBC that they came to Dallas to watch last year.
I think they'll be running some coffees from Brown, and interestingly, I think they are coffees that were purchased (by Brown) with the intention of use in my competition blend. A lot of people are benefitting from a couple of good ideas here, it seems.
One thing I did happen to notice is the sheer number of competitors who will probably be using Cuveé coffee. 4 competitors from Caffe Medici, one from Cuveé, and one from Jupiter House in Denton, TX (another Cuveé account). That's about 35% of the mix using the same, or a slightly modified version of Meritage. Wowsers. I hope the judges like Cuveé's roasting style! Although, I'd be willing to bet that Clancy will be running his own blend, considering that he is now the roaster at Cuveé.
I'm also quite happy to see Ron De Young of Texas Coffee Traders on the list again this year. Soft-spoken, the farthest thing from arrogance you'll find, and the shot I had off his practice session last year was brilliant. We were all nervous and shaky for last year's competition, but some of us shook more than others. Ron was one of those. I hope he kills it this year.
I'm also looking forward to seeing Ashlind McAshan again. She's competing as an independent this year, after having competed in a couple of out of regions and the USBC last year after the shock of the SCRBC. This woman is freakin' determined, and she doesn't give a damn about what you, me, or anyone else thinks. She's told me so, and she gave me an extra copy she had of God in a Cup. Her home Starbucks is being closed, and today (the 22nd) is the last day of operation. If you need a good director of coffee, lead barista, manager, etc.., she will be for hire soon, and I know she would LOVE to find a great job doing what she loves. (those are extra difficult to come by in the north Dallas area, let me tell you.)
I'll be competing against two near-trainees, and two baristas from a shop I have a good relationship with. Interesting times for Jason. Do I mention the fact that I trained both Nat and Skylar on the basics about a year ago? Do I mention the fact that I have judged an in-house latte art competition for their shop a few months ago? Do I mention the fact that they call me all the time to ask questions and invite me for special cupping sessions, like the first one they held in which I lead a cupping of the much-touted Panama Esmeralda Gesha non-auction lot from PT's? (yes, it was every bit as good as they say, though I still gave it a 94-95, rather than the 97 Ken Davids decided it deserved. I'm too damn critical. I know it, my girlfriend knows it, my friends know it, and there's not a thing I can do about it. Oh well.)
Enough of this rambling. I saw a quote on Blanco's blog that caught my attention.
It is repeated below. (http://coffeepress.blogspot.com/2008/09/coming-up.html)
"Space is the enemy here, and geopolitical boundaries seem to be the enemy of our coalescence. Because the entity is known as "Texas" it seems to make sense that we should all be one big happy family. But as the interstate sign makes clear as you cross into Texas from Louisiana, this really is a big, big place. The sign reads: WELCOME TO TEXAS! Beaumont = 15 miles; Houston = 150 miles; El Paso = 798 miles. Thus, we have to make the best of our situation by grabbing every opportunity for community, no matter how frequency and geographically-challenged and those opportunities are." - Aaron BlancoAmen to that. You couldn't sum up the reason for the existance of Texas Coffee People any better than that.
Stay tuned for the results of the 2nd annual SCRBC in just under two weeks.