Espresso Love

Kansas City has a growing coffee community.

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Last weekend was the Big Central Regional Barista Competition, I will post a blog about it soon, but there I had a lot of great conversations with a ton of awesome people in the industry. A common thing that I talked about was how beautiful the Neuva Simenelli Aurella T3 and how much fun it was to play and use these beautiful machines during competition. It then brought up how frustrated I was to have a machine such as a Brasilia as my espresso machine that I used every day. The common response was honestly not the response I was wanting. The response was something like “so…” Or “and…” I was confused by the response. I was expecting something like “man, I feel sorry for you.” Or “how could you deal with that kind of machine.”

It was more of a response of… “so… You are a talented barista, it doesn’t matter what kind of machine you have.” They would continue to explain that the knowledge I gained from this competition, in my constant learning, or experience that it would part of it. And it makes sense.

As a barista we know, because we were taught or learned from experience that water is stupid. It takes the path of least residence. So if you don’t pack level, evenly, or with enough pressure. You would have a not so tray shot, or underextracted shot of espresso. You also learn that if a shot us pulling to fast or too slow you can do a couple things… Adjust the grind or adjust the pressure of tamping to make it taste better. These are just a few things to mention that you can change as a barista, but the machine us a different story.

Then there is the machine. There are things you cannot really control, say the even distribution of water flow from the group head. The temperature of the water that comes out of the espresso machine when shots are pulling, but its another we as baristas learn to take care of our machine even if we don’t like it. A clean machine is a happy machine. A happy machine makes happy baristas, which altogether make beautiful shots. 

It would make sense that if you train your baristas with the knowledge they need, then they will succeed at pulling shots no matter the machine. You need to let them the “why’s” in coffee, rather than just telling them how. Let your baristas experiment. They will learn that by tamping light with cause an underextracted shot, or if they tamp too hard it will cause an overextracted shot. So let your baristas experiment, train them in the whys and not the hows.

Be happy where you at. I mean if you weren’t where you are now, you wouldn’t have the experiences you have now or merry the people you did. 

Happy Cupping.

Last weekend was the Big Central Regional Barista Competition, I will post a blog about it soon, but there I had a lot of great conversations with a ton of awesome people in the industry. A common thing that I talked about was how beautiful the Neuva Simenelli Aurella T3 and how much fun it was to play and use these beautiful machines during competition. It then brought up how frustrated I was to have a machine such as a Brasilia as my espresso machine that I used every day. The common response was honestly not the response I was wanting. The response was something like “so…” Or “and…” I was confused by the response. I was expecting something like “man, I feel sorry for you.” Or “how could you deal with that kind of machine.”

It was more of a response of… “so… You are a talented barista, it doesn’t matter what kind of machine you have.” They would continue to explain that the knowledge I gained from this competition, in my constant learning, or experience that it would part of it. And it makes sense.

As a barista we know, because we were taught or learned from experience that water is stupid. It takes the path of least residence. So if you don’t pack level, evenly, or with enough pressure. You would have a not so tray shot, or underextracted shot of espresso. You also learn that if a shot us pulling to fast or too slow you can do a couple things… Adjust the grind or adjust the pressure of tamping to make it taste better. These are just a few things to mention that you can change as a barista, but the machine us a different story.

Then there is the machine. There are things you cannot really control, say the even distribution of water flow from the group head. The temperature of the water that comes out of the espresso machine when shots are pulling, but its another we as baristas learn to take care of our machine even if we don’t like it. A clean machine is a happy machine. A happy machine makes happy baristas, which altogether make beautiful shots.

It would make sense that if you train your baristas with the knowledge they need, then they will succeed at pulling shots no matter the machine. You need to let them the “why’s” in coffee, rather than just telling them how. Let your baristas experiment. They will learn that by tamping light with cause an underextracted shot, or if they tamp too hard it will cause an overextracted shot. So let your baristas experiment, train them in the whys and not the hows.

Be happy where you at. I mean if you weren’t where you are now, you wouldn’t have the experiences you have now or merry the people you did.

Happy Cupping.

Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard, out of Leawood, is making a mark in Kansas City’s coffee scene. Recently voted second in the top coffeehouses in Kansas City, by the readers of the Pitch. Foo’s soon will not be known just for their fabulous frozen custard, but also for their skills in coffee.

Jeff Stottle, owner of Foo’s, did not want to jump into the coffee scene without support or knowledge about the coffee. He hired on Nathan as an Assistant Manager, focusing on coffee and helping to expand their coffee menu to customers. Foo’s went from using a super automatic machine to a La Marzocco Linea. It is an absolutely beautiful machine. 


They are training staff to make latte art, which I got a rosetta in the making from Rachel, barista on the clock. She was not happy with it, and I can understand, but for just starting it out, I say that it looks beautiful. Especially in their mugs. Their hand painted mugs came from the shop next door. 


Can’t wait to see how much Foo’s grows within the industry. Welcome to the coffee family Foo’s.


Check them out. They are located off of 95th Street and Mission, on the northeast corner behind McDonald’s.


Happy Cupping.

This last Saturday, November 10, Kansas City’s barista and coffee enthusiasts met at Parisi Coffee for the first ever Cowtown Throwdown. A friendly latte art competition that is going to start happening once a month now. It’s a way for baristas to keep connected with each other, see new faces, network, and learn from each other. 

At this competition we had a group of 17 baristas compete. With a $5 buy in, the first place winner would receive 70% of the pot and the second place winner received 30% of the pot. It was a great turnout. We were very lucky and fortunate to play on Parisi’s Synesso. It’s such a beautiful machine. The judges were such great sports. We had Kent(of the LAB and About the Coffee), Hannah, and Justin(of Kaldi’s Latteland).


There were a lot of first time competitors and experienced competitors and everything in between. There was laughter and a fun had this night. With the night dwindling down, the final two competitors were Simeon and Dean from the Roasterie. Their final pours are in the center picture above. Dean on the right and Simeon on the left. Simeon took first place. 


Thanks to everyone that participated. Thanks to the judges. A special thanks to everyone that put it together. 

I’ll be looking forward to seeing Kansas City’s coffee scene continue to grow. Especially with great love and enthusiasm for this industry.


Next month’s Cowtown Throwdown is on December 15th, 7:30p, at About the Coffee and the LAB.


Happy Cupping.

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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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’ve 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.


Happy Cupping.

Kansas City was lucky enough to have two days packed full of caffeine fun. On Sunday we had just as many stops as we did Saturday except, we had one more coffee related stop than the day before, because if you recall, Saturday we also went to Annedore’s, a chocolate shop on the Kansas side of Stateline. 

To start off the day, we were at the Lab and About the Coffee's place, where Stubbie from E.F. Hobbs and his truck, Coffee Cake KC, teaching about us about hobby roasting. He also showed some of his toys he modified to use for coffee roasting. We learned about the first and second crack, and a lot of people asked a ton of great questions. I also over heard a Crawler say, “I’m gonna make one of those.” Stubbie also mentioned that when he started roasting his own beans, it was the last time he had cream or sugar in his coffee.

Our second stop was at the Roasterie, where Paul, the Bean Hunter, showed us around the plant and we learned about the Roasterie and about the way they roast their beans.The Roasterie air-roasts their beans, which make them the only ones in the city that do so. We also learned that they roast all of the coffees to order, so that there is no waste and everything is fresh. They have an extremely large custom blend demographic, making over 3,000 blends. All of their coffee are hand packed and using a machine that replaces the air in their bags with nitrogen so their coffee lasts longer. Because the air we breathe can age the coffee we love so much. With any coffee they happen to have left over or made too much of they donate their coffee to missions and charity events. At the end of the tour we had a tasting between three different coffees, all from the same region but three different processes: Wash, Pulp, and Pulp Natural. I think I enjoyed the Pulp Natural the best, because it brought the brightness of the coffee more compared to the other processes.


Our next stop was the Filling Station off of 29th and Gillham. At the Filling Station they serve Oddly Correct’s coffee and Broadway's espresso. They also make awesome freshly squeezed juices. My favorite is the Liquid Sunshine. They also make delicious sandwiches, salads, and wraps. While we were here for our stop we enjoyed a beer infused with Broadway's espresso, and a couple of bourbons infused with Odddly's coffee such as their Mexico Chiapas and Ethiopia Sidamo. It was definitely still early in the morning when we went to this stop, but it's five o'clock some where kicked it and we enjoyed the drinks that we had. My favorite out of the three was the Sidamo Bourbon, I believe.


Our next stop was basically my apartment. Not quite, but my neighbors, Mud Pie Vegan Coffeehouse and Bakery on 39th and Wyoming. There we had a multitude of their amazing baked goods. I was happy to see that they had their mozzarella and herb scone. I also had their peanut butter rice crispy treat. We didn’t just eat all of the pastries, we also enjoyed their multitude of milks they provide at Mudpie’s. We had their special chai blend, but served with different milks: soy, almond, cashew, hemp, rice, and coconut. Before I left the shop, I grabbed a sandwich for lunch. I grabbed an Jack Barbecue Sandwich; they get their sandwiches from a local vegetarian restaurant, FUD.

Our next stop is at a very familiar place I go to every Saturday morning, the City Market. We were on our way to Quay coffee off of 4th and Delaware. There we met with Cory and Tanner, co-owners of Quay. There we were taught not only how to do a V-60 pour over, but we were also taught the importance of grind size, and water temperature. They also told us of how they got started in the coffee industry, I caught one saying, “Kansas City’s scene isn’t competitive, it’s more supportive.” Time and time again, I find this to be so true. 


Our second to last stop was taking us to Johnson County, Kansas, where we met up with Hobte of Revocup. Located just off of Quivera and College. There we learned about what Hobte loved so much and that was his homeland, Ethiopia. We tasted some of his beautifully roasted coffee, that he roasts in house. We also had a tasting of this mystery french press that he had made. We were to guess what origin it came from. As soon as I tasted it. It reminded me of my favorite origin, Kenya. I was correct. Hobte then jumped behind the counter and help make macchiatos and espresso shots. They were heavenly. You could even see coffee fanatics talking flavors, and re-tasting the espresso to see if they could taste it.


Our last stop was at Latte Land off of Stateline. Little did we know that the person leading the presentation was going to be on the cover of the current BARISTA MAGAZINE. Marcus Boni taught us about espresso. Taught us what it isn’t, like grind size, roast, but what it was a brew process. We tasted the espresso we were given and were told to pull out different flavor notes. We were also given a homemade fig newton to pair with the espresso. Unfortunately the pastry contained nuts, so I had a slight allergic reaction. Even so I can tell you that the pastry with the espresso went perfectly together. 


As our Caffeine Crawl came to an end, ironically we didn’t have a bunch of overly hyper people on our bus, we had a ton of over-dose caffeinated people that all we wanted to do was take a nap. It was a successful event. I can not wait to see what the LAB has in store for the next Kansas City Crawl, but you can bet that I will be participating again next year. If you can make it out to the crawl, I’d say plan on making it out now, at least for just one of the days. 


Get ready Kansas City, Midwest. This is just the start of our coffee culture about to explode!


Happy Cupping.

After the Kansas City Caffeine Crawl there was an event that took place at the Lab and About the Coffee's location off 31st and Terrace. At this event there was a food truck with awesome food, face painting, a brew bar, a raffle, and the big event of the evening was the big Baristalympics. It was a event for baristas and home enthusiasts alike. 

There were 4 categories each team had to complete. Espresso, Latte Art(including taste), Pour Overs, and a signature drink(more or less). The coffees in the event were provided by Parisi of Kansas City and Benetti’s of Raytown. Winning team would have their picture featured in an issue of BARISTA MAGAZINE


My team came up with the name, Three Shots and a Brew. On my team was Paul, a home enthusiast, and Simeon, from the Roasterie. Simeon made a beautiful latte and the espresso shots. Paul then made our pour over brew. He made an iced clever, but instead of just brewing the clever of ice, he took the coffee and placed it into a cocktail shaker and shook the ice coffee til there was this beautiful foam on top. Then I created our signature drink. We basically took the iced clever and translated that to summer and then created my signature drink to translate it to the upcoming season fall. I went to Parisi a few days before and tasted their espresso. I tasted what seemed to be apple flavor profiles and I took it from there. I diced up a granny smith apple and placed it into the bottom of the portafilter basket with some cloves and allspice. Packed the espresso on top. Pulled the shot and placed it into a shot glass with a cinnamon-raw sugar rim, and added a spoonful of milk foam to create this fallish macchiato. It was nice, smooth, I felt balanced. 


There were two judges table, but we only had to present one drink to each table. One was a bunch of home enthusiasts and another was professionals in the coffee industry. It was a lot of fun, especially since I am not normally calm during these competitions. I felt though that I did a pretty good job. 


Out of four teams, Three Shots and a Brew came into third place. Even though we came last in the top 3, I know we and all of the other baristas had a great time, and hope that it happens again in the future. Thanks to the wonderful LAB team for putting this together.


Happy Cupping.

In Kansas City, we got hit by the coffee fever. Caffeine Crawl, created by Jason Burton at the Lab(formally Lab5702), had it’s first ever two day event in Kansas City. This event took place on September 15 and 16, one day(the 17th) from the anniversary from the start of this awesome event, that started in Kansas City. 


In case you don’t know what a Caffeine Crawl is, it’s the same idea as a beer or pub crawl. A big group of people get together and jump on buses and we go to some of the few hot coffeeshops in the city. There we have a guide that informs us about where we are going and gives us facts about our beloved drinks. This is the first ever two day event. So because it was a two day event, this is going to be a two-part blog. Let’s get started.


We started at the this Saturday morning at Parisi’s factory. There, we started by picking up our goody bags and picked our buses, but before that Kate, manager and barista at the Parisi Cafe in Union Station, talked to us about the differences between a Brazil Natural Process, and a Brazil Pulp Natural. As well as between two different origins. Before we head off a lot of us bumped into some old friends we hadn’t seen in a while.


I jumped on bus number 1 with Kent as our guide. As soon as we all were on the bus, we headed to our next stop at Crossroads Coffeehouse in the heart of Kansas City’s Crossroads. There Chris taught us how to brew at home with a Chemex and a french press. We had Intelligentsia’s Ethiopia Limu. Quickly we learned that there was a taste difference between the two. It looked like our group favored the cleaner cup of the Chemex.

We were off to our next stop to Benetti’s in Raytown. There Ben and Nick gave us the run down of the unplugged experience of coffee. There we went to the basics, the coffee bean and water. We learned that “it’s all about extraction and suspension.” Ben and Nick actually spent the night at their shop in tents with a fire over night. They brew coffee in just a pot with boiling water and coffee. We learned also that there is a longer extraction when the grounds are coarser and when the finer ground it’s a shorter extraction rate. If you over agitate the grounds in the water, then the beans will be over extracted, which will cause the brew to become bitter. 


Our next stop was One More Cup. It’s located off of 75th and Wornall. There Stacy and Jeremy talked to us about locality. How supporting the local coffeeshop doesn’t just support that shop, it supports all the local business that shop supports as well as the employees that go to the local shops and restaurants. It’s all a ripple  effect. Local supporting local. It was a great talk.


Then we were off to the culinary experience at Broadway Cafe. We were at their roasting plant. There we had a ton of concoctions that made our taste buds go WOA. There we had toddy that were infused with three options such as Meyer Lemons, Dried Cherries, and Dried Plum and Golden Raisins. Broadway and McCoy’s collaborated to create this Malabar Brown, combined coffee and beer. It was awesome. We also had from Poppy’s an Oatmeal Toddy Stout Ice-Cream, and that was amazing as well. A lot of people in our group had taken the ice-cream and made an affogato with the espresso shots they were pulling on a beautiful La Marzocco machine. Farmhouse from the River Market on 4th and Delaware, came together and made a coffee infused french toast. Every aspect of this french toast had coffee in it. Yum. That’s not all we had a taste of what Broadway’s special Anniversary blend would taste like. I know, our taste buds were going slightly insane after this stop and it wasn’t even our last stop.

We jumped on the bus, and a lot of us getting hyped from the caffeine and were on our way to the Oddly boys of Oddly Correct. Off 39th and Main. Their talk was called “Passing Gas.” There Gregory talked to us about the importance of storing coffee and we got to taste the differences between old coffee, fresh coffee, and just right coffee.

Our last stop on Saturday was at Annedore’s just on the Kansas City of State line road that is just next door to the cute little shop, Hi-Hat. At Annedore’s we got chocolate covered popcorn. Ironically we were getting tired and ready for a nap after 5 hours of crawling.

Read on for Sunday’s crawl.

Happy Cupping. 

It’s been a while, almost too long since I’ve posted. But on the last Friday of July, Parisi Coffee partnered with Arts Kansas City bringing together a show of art in the workplace through this night of coffee. 
 

It was a latte art competition. We had competitors from all over Kansas City as well as barista’s from PT’s Coffeehouse in Topeka, Kansas. 

The competition went like this. You put your name in a bucket, as your name was pulled you were placed on a bracket. Competitors competed at the same time. You didn’t just go all willy-nilly here. There is strategy. It was called “The Dice of Doom,” actually not sure what it’s really called, but basically you rolled the dice whatever was facing up, that is what you had to do. Like a rosetta, tulip, heart, large skim latte in a paper cup, or freestyle. You could either pour your art behind the machine or at the judges table.


Needless to say this is only my second real latte art competition outside of the ones we have a work for fun. This time we got to play on a Nuova Simonelli. Which to me is kind of a dream come true. Why you ask, because it’s not what we have at work, which we have a Brasilia Portofino, and that it’s the machine they have used at the Latte Art Competitions. As usual I was nervous. I guess it comes with any competition territory. Me and my partner rolled tulips. I got so excited because that’s what I have been working on. I was just so bummed that I didn’t get the right amount of foam on my milk, so I got a rosetta, maybe it was a heart, but it was super tiny and bleh. 


My competitor won, and I congratulate him on his victory. 


I may have done terrible that time, but practice makes perfect and I can still learn from my mistakes and I can’t wait to get my feet wet in another competition.


Happy Cupping.

What else do you do with the left over ground coffee? Make awesome art like this!
Happy Cupping.

Homer’s Coffeehouse in Downtown Overland Park, Kansas, is a coffeeshop that has been around for 10 years going on 11 this 2012. There are a few things that set Homer’s apart from any other coffee shop in Kansas City area. One is the seating, if you’ve been here, you would understand. You are bound to come in and find a seat, unless it’s a Wednesday or Saturday morning. Another thing is we are the only stationary coffeeshop that proudly serves E.F. Hobbs coffee. He’s a local roaster in Lenexa, Kansas. It is really cool to see all the baristas talking to Stubbie(Brian) about coffee, the music scene, well, just about anything. I’m definitely happy to serve Stubbie’s coffee.

One of the main thing that sets us apart is our stage, music system. We have live music every Friday and Saturday night, and every once and a while a Tuesday night. It’s a great way for local bands to come out and bring their friends to a shop and not have to worry about space for all their friends. We also have a lot of regulars that come out to listen to the music. There is never a cover charge, but during intermission we pass the hat to help support the bands that come through our doors. We have such a variety of music that come into Homer’s. From indie rock, country, Christian, and we even have a big band come in. That’s right, once every other month a 20 peice big band will come in and play jazz. It’s always packed.

Music generally starts at 7:30p and ends around 9:30p, and the shop closes at 10p.

So come on in and support local coffee, and local music.

**Top Picture: Ronni Ward performs at Homer’s once every other month, and she has some country soul doing covers, but mainly originals.

**Bottom Picture: Jack Korbel performs every blue moon, but I wish he would play more. His style is so awesome, it