Git 'er Done

In a short two weeks, the North East region will see its first bona-fide barista competition, thanks to the geniuses behind Portafilter.

The three-day event is great for a ton of reasons—namely the special guests, community-building and learning, learning, learning—but of course much of the buzz has been about, you know, showing off our mad skillz.

Well, darlings, I for one am as critical of my mad skillz as I am wicked excited to, er, show 'em off. I've been dreaming for years of competing next to some of the baristas I admire most, and I guess now's my chance? Except, I'm really nervous?

Never fear, Meister—Nick Cho is here!

It's a Cho-down

The Murky Coffee owner, celebrity both actual and internetual, competition guru and all-around nice guy invited me down for a little help on my technique, as well as just sort of keeping me abreast of what this whole shebang entails in the first place. Knowing is half the battle, and having never seen a full competition set, I had no idea what to expect until Nick explained some of the rules, regulations and protocol of the thing. I still have tons and tons of work to do, but at least I know a lot of what I have been doing wrong and what I can do to make a good impression.

Wish I were this skinny

Now, let's talk a little about the idea of competing. Lately I've had a lot of really interesting conversations with people (most of whom know much better than I do) about origin, culinary art, food culture, agriculture and real-life (so-to-speak) barista skills. I've talked with people who are pro, con and indifferent about events like this, and I've taken some quiet time to digest all of their points of view. I understand that this kind of pageantry should in no way define my career as a barista and as an educator, and I know that as a professional in my position, I respresent the second-to-last phase in the life cycle of a quality coffee.

My reasons for wanting to compete are not to best anybody, they're not to show off (I couldn't) or to win (I probably won't) or to be superior to any one of my innumerable peers out there (I'm not).

So, Meister, why do you want to compete?

I want to compete because I'm passionate about coffee, and about the people of coffee.

I want to compete because I think that the specialty coffee industry can do so much good for the farmers of the world, and for their nations, families and crops.

I want to compete because I'm a cocksure woman barista who may not know everything, but who isn't afraid of asking for help, advice and knowledge, and who isn't afraid of offering it in return.

I want to compete because this is a new region for specialty coffee, relatively speaking, and I want to represent the East Coast attitude.

I want to compete because I'm proud of Joe, and am honored to be able to represent us.

I want to compete because I love and respect the roasters whose coffees we use at Joe, and if I can do them any amount of justice in a public arena like this, I want to.

And most of all, I want to compete because I want to learn from those who are better than me, and to become a stronger barista and person because of it.

The Mothership

To my fellow competitors, spectators, enthusiasts and nerds, may the portafilter be with you.