Fifteen Shots Later, Part 2: Java Enabled Judges the Midwest Regional Barista Competition

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Photo courtesy Kaldi's Coffee
On Saturday, October 31, and Sunday, November 1, Zach Dyer helped judge the Midwest Regional Barista Competition, with the winner advancing to the national competition in Anaheim in April 2010. In last week's post, Dyer explained how the competition works and described the drinks made by the finalists from PT's Coffee in Topeka, Kansas. This week, he looks at how the finalists from St. Louis' own Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company fared...

Kaldi's baristas focused their presentations on the raw possibilities of espresso, deconstructing the coffee to show its versatility. Kaldi's roaster and (for the day) barista Joe Marrocco brought his perspective as a roaster to his signature drink. Using the Costa Rica Don Mayo currently served in Kaldi's stores, he prepared the same coffee roasted two different ways to highlight the differences.

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Photo courtesy Kaldi's Coffee
The six finalists in this year's Midwest Regional Barista Competition
Micah Svejda focused on hiw three different brewing methods affect the flavors in coffee. Using the Costa Rican Helsar (also currently served in the cafes; try it on the Clover at the Clayton store), Svejda prepped the judges' palates with French-press coffee cooled to room temperature to highlight the coffee's sweetness. Then, he served the same coffee cold-brewed to accent its acidity. Finally, he served the coffee as espresso for its syrupy body. "You never really drink the same coffee twice."

Mike Marquard looked at the rising possibilities of varietals in coffee. Using the same Helsar as Svejda, he presented the vastly different flavors that come from different varietals of coffee grown in the same micro-region. Marquard took it a step further by comparing the typica and caturra single-origin varietals from the Helsar micro-mill in Costa Rica with some better-known varietals, Granny Smith and John Gold apples.

To marry the taste profiles of the espresso and apples, Marquard prepared a cider on stage to accompany the shots of caturra. A tiny Mokka pot sat on a gas burner, overflowing with chopped Granny Smith apples. Adding some dark brown sugar and Ceylon cinnamon, he turned up the heat and brewed a quick cider. Speaking to the tart acidity of the espresso and the caramel notes in the espresso, he described it as a "deconstructed caramel apple."


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