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Drinking Up the 2015 U.S. Coffee Championships

February 26, 2015

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The awesome aspect of going to niche conventions is being immersed in people’s passions and dipping a little into subcultures.

This time, it’s coffee. Well, not just coffee. It’s the 3-day 2015 Coffee Championships.  Repeat with caffeinated fervor, “Cofffeeee!!!”

Caffeine’s beauty lies in its function, taste, and social connection blended into an addicting ritual. Caffeine functions to block adenosine chemicals in our brain, thus decreasing sleepiness common in the early mornings or post-lunch food comas. This leads to better concentration and decision-making.

Coffee is also art and science wrapped in a whip of coolness. You may wonder, “Egads. A national coffee competition located in Long Beach, California?” Yes, apparently it’s the “up and coming” LB coffee scene.
The competition scene: like a club with its dim lighting and orbs of light from the tall ceilings. Also like a cooking show with its bars, hosts, cameras, judges and spectator seating.

The crowd: many skinny men in skinnier jeans, button up shirts, and that distinct hipster hair cut. Glasses and beards deemed optional.

The events: a Barista Championship, Latte Art Championship, roasting and brewing competitions. Dedicated men and women from all over the country showing their brew technique, finesse, and networking.

Although the official schedule events promised terrific opportunity, we didn’t follow any of it. For details and winners, the Long Beach Post wrote up a nice overview, complete with coffee celebrity names.

I was interested in the coffee machinery and the characters behind the booth.

The Bkon (pronounced, “beacon”): offered the best and speediest shot. ‘Twas a super smooth, not requiring any sugar or milk. No acid! The $13,500 machine is only available for commercial shops. The two founders created Reverse Atmospheric Infusion (RAIN), which according to their site: “This control over negative pressure (pressure below normal atmospheric pressure) allows for the extraction of deep and layered flavor profiles that can be customized by chefs, mixologists, or baristas.

Modbar’s modular brewing system offers a very pretty experience where a tap dispenses hot beverages instead of the bulky counter culprits. This would also be sleek for a coffee truck or coffee bike.

The Trifecta: $2,500-$3,000. Inside the solid, heavy metal body only has 2 small parts to replace.

Talking to the Barista Guild of America yielded awareness of a Barista Camp in Pennsylvania this summer! The Guild hosted the central circle bar where baristas created free drinks such as shots, lattes, drips, and Americanos.

Of course there were the requisite food trucks for lunch as we lounged in the Southern California sun. We ended the day by casting our vote for the best roasting. The competition table displayed the same bean, roasted 6 different ways. Only by doing this side-by-side taste test does one fully appreciate the nuances. Amazing.

I may have to join the LA Coffee Club where “specialty coffee beans” are delivered to the house every 2 weeks by keen roasters. It’s like a wine club, but on the perky spectrum. Cofffeeee!!

Industry swag!

Industry swag!