The weekend of October 26 through the 28, there was a big event that took place in Topeka, Kansas, at PT’s Coffee Plant and PT’s Flying Monkey all weekend. It was a place where 24 baristas came from across the midwest to meet here in Topeka. These baristas were then put into teams of 4 and worked together to gain the most points by the end of the weekend. You might be wondering what event this is. It’s the first ever, Flatlanders Barista Cup Competition.
At this event, not only did the baristas come from across the midwest, but they were with a great group of people from the coffee industry such as a former United States Barista Champion, the World Barista Champion of 2011, and the current Canadian Barista Champion. There were also a group of coffee farmers that came up from El Salvador and Central America. It was a beautiful sight to see all of these people in one room conversing, smiling, laughing, and exchanging advice. There were three little competitions in this big competition that each competitor would gain a number of points that would go towards a team score and the team with the most points received a trophy provided by Reg Barber, and all the top 3 teams contained a Reg Barber tamp with PT’s tree logo on top.
The first event was Triangulation. For those that don’t know what it is, Triangulation is when you are given three cups with coffee in them. Then you are to smell, and taste them and see which one is the one that stands out. There were 8 different sets of coffee. There were two competitors that would be in a room at a time. Out of the 24 competitors, only one competitor got all of them correct. It was Kate Blackman of Parisi Coffee, in Kansas City, Missouri. Congratulations to Kate!
That took place on Friday, believe. Sadly I was not able to attend that Friday, but I went up Saturday evening and Sunday. I heard that Friday evening at PT’s Flying Monkey, off 17th and Washburn, had the Barista Champions behind the bar. My friend, Rob, was so excited because he got a macchiato made by Alejandro, WBC(World Barista Champion). Saturday morning at the plant, each of the farmers as well as Jeff, from PT’s, gave presentations on their coffees, their farm, and how it was not just about the coffee and making the money, it was about the family experiences. After these presentations, later in the evening everyone headed to PT’s Flying Monkey for the Latte Art Competition part of the event. Basically the farther you went in the brackets, the more points you received. It was awesome to see what art of being produced by these artists. Nathan Murphy,of Coffee Ethic in Springfield, Missouri, took the gold at the Latte Art Competition. After the big competition and after cleaning up a bit, in the cafe an open competition took place. It had a $5 buy in, and put your name on the bracket. I think as someone that’s only been in the industry for about a year and a half, it was such a great opportunity to play on such a beautiful machine, a Synesso. Seriously, I was quite amazed that this machine steamed my milk in like 10 seconds. Absolutely ridiculous! I definitely fell in love. Another amazing opportunity we had was to compete along side with World Barista Champion and Canadian Barista Champion. The final four in this competition ended up being two baristas from The Roasterie, in Kansas City, against the Barista Champions. Simeon, from Brookside Roasterie, actually bumped Jeremy,CBC, out of the competition. Then Alejandro, WBC, bumped Simeon out. The final two was between, Dean, from Leawood Roasterie, and Alejandro. There was so much tension in the room, especially from those from Kansas City. As soon as the lattes hit the table, people swarmed. Where I thought Dean won, the judges chose Alejandro, taking the pot of $160. It was a great night.
The next day, each team spent time cupping the coffees that came from the farmers’ farm. They talked to the Barista Champions, and farmers. Their goal was to create an espresso blend using their coffees. Then they had to create a presentation, presenting their espresso in the form of espresso, and cappuccino, and why they chose the coffees they did. Every team did a fantastic job. As someone that was watching them, I learned a lot. Things were mentioned that I would have never thought about. I also got to talk to Jeff of PT’s. It was such a great conversation, I have learned so much. He has definitely given me a ton of advice as well as convinced me to compete in the next Flatlander’s competition.
This is kind a taste of what happened during this busy weekend. A ton a new friendships, and networking happened. Ideas were talked, and shaped. It was just a beautiful event. Thanks to PT’s for putting together such a successful event, and I can’t wait to the next big thing.