Barista (2015) - full transcript

Five top baristas find themselves pushing the limits of coffee perfection to win the National Barista Championship - a surreal competition where even one mistake is far too many. Once a year, thousands of baristas square off in competitions around the U.S., but only one will become the National Champion. BARISTA takes viewers on a humorous, emotional and enlightening look into the unimaginable world of coffee competitions and the passionate, lovable and quirky characters who devote their lives to them. If you think you know coffee - this film will make you think twice. These baristas take this universally beloved beverage seriously. Their passion for it can be felt through every frame of the film. BARISTA will take you beyond the drink and shine a light on a unique world very few of us ever knew existed.

This is our first competitor

in the 2013 United States
Barista Competition.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Charles Babinski, G&B Coffee.

All right.

Um are all of y'all
ready? All right. Let's do this.

Customers would ask me,
and what you gonna do next?

And I'd go, what do you mean?

I'm maybe like, you know?
What do you mean, I'm a barista.

I mean like this is what I do.
Welcome to my profession.

Or that's just a joke.
I'd opting like...

I give 'em some couple coffee and
they said this is really good

and I would just go, yeah,
chosen profession, you know?

Like I... I do this.

And I remember because I was
allowed to adopt a guinea pig

that day, at the pet store next door.

So I had my guinea pig and I had
to sneak it into Friendly's

because obviously you
couldn't bring a rodent in

but I had it in one of those
like carry it home boxes

and like had to sneak
it in as a little kid

while my parents had dinner or whatever.

And I remember whining and complaining

about wanting to drink coffee and
my parents were like well this is

weird, like it's gross,
you're not gonna like it

and I tried it and it was
gross and I didn't like it.

And that was like my first
memory as a child of like,

that's disgusting,
why would you do that?

My parents would be like that though.
They'd be like drinking a beer.

I'd be like well I want to
have it and you'd try it

and you'd be like ugh,
that was horrible.

But this magical moment
happened somewhere in life

where you're like, oh this is great.

If it ever... if it ever rolls.

People are probably
just liking it too hard

on Instagram right now.

There's the Death Star.
There's some Ghostbusters shit.

Ding... Bunch of likes.

If I sketched a Ghostbuster
for one of those judges,

it would be like the silliest thing.

I might sketch a Ghostbuster next year.

Coffee is, um, coffee is what I do,

which is really exciting because
for me what that means is, um,

what that means is
that ah I do what I do

to the best of my ability to
the glory of God and that,

that gives me the opportunity
to... to make coffee

with all of my might.

I think that coffee is one of
the most wonderful things

on the planet and
it's endlessly fascinating

and it's also extremely difficult,

so difficult that chefs
like won't even touch it.

You're working with something

that is more chemically complex
than almost anything else

that we imbibe as a human
being by far and away.

Like wine through
its fermentation process,

nothing compared to the roasting process

and the caramelization
that takes place there.

But really the greatness
of coffee is why I do it.

Coffee, it's an unregulated drug.

Everybody loves it.

Like what's not...
What's not to like about it?

I was hooked because
I was exhilarated, um,

and then I stayed because
it was more important to me

than anything else
I had done in my life.

Before we go on,

I need to talk to you about perfection.

Perfection may seem to be
a tough thing to attain

and in the coffee world
maybe damn near impossible,

but that doesn't mean we can't try.

It started with the first
wave of coffee culture,

where coffee pots and instant
freeze-dry were everywhere.

With top tasting notes
like rubber, smoke, stick,

still we kept cans of the stuff
in our cupboards to remind us

that we fought for something.

In the 1960's,

massive Seattle based corporations

stepped into the game,

ushering in a second wave of
American coffee culture.

It gave rise to the skinny, two-pump,

write your name on the side
of a white paper cup latte.

There were green aprons everywhere.

People couldn't get enough
and that brings us here

to the third wave of coffee and
the idea that coffee can be more

than a commodity, something artisanal

like wine or sexy scotches.

People started asking questions, like,

where's my coffee coming from
and where's it headed next?

At the forefront of this
movement are the baristas.

We're leading the charge
towards perfection.

You might think you know
the type... quirky, off the wall,

brilliantly manicured facial hair,

an unapologetic sense of style,

bodies adorned with tattoos
and a shared love of dance.

Make no mistake.

This is what a craftsperson looks like.

These are the boys and girls
that take coffee to that next step.

They care about things like
you being able to taste

baker's chocolate or
fresh citrus in your cup,

making sure that
the immaculately filtered water

they use is heated with razor precision,

so as not to scald every
square inch of your pretty mouth

as you take that first sip.

And nowhere is this push for
perfection more personified

than at a barista competition,

where the best baristas on
the planet square off in an attempt

to make the greatest cups of
coffee one has ever tasted.

That's right.
You heard me, a barista competition.

When I was first found out
about coffee competitions,

I was definitely like, what the heck?

That's crazy man.

Um but every genre has its own
sub genre of more passionate,

more driven people.

I'd heard about the barista competition.

I didn't understand it at all.

You're in an arena preparing
twelve drinks in fifteen minutes

where everybody is hanging
on every word that you say.

Within those fifteen minutes,
you can say anything you want.

Within those fifteen minutes,

you can uh grind your
coffee however you want.

You can serve it in whatever you want.

You can put them down in
whatever order that you want.

You can play whatever music you want.

You can wear anything you want

as long as you also wear an apron.

This is insane. It was like
best in show but for coffee.

I couldn't even believe
that that was like...

that that was real and that
I could be a part of it

and then once I was part of it,
I was like

how... how deep does this go?

Like how, like how into it can I get?

Man, you don't know what
you're getting into

until you step in there.

Before a competition,

I just try to get focused and
get centered, so my diet changes

I cut out a lot of like
carbs and weird stuff

and I try to just focus on my
routine and my competition.

Unfortunately that,

doesn't leave much time
for social activities.

Barista competition is a highly
choreographed service routine.

So it's fifteen minutes before
for prep and for practice

to set up your station, fifteen
minutes of competition routine.

Each performance is evaluated
by four sensory judges,

two technical judges and one head judge.

In their fifteen minutes
of competition time,

a barista must prepare
three rounds of drinks

so that's twelve drinks in
total serving the four judges.

Round one, espresso.

Espresso is judged on taste,
tactile, appearance.

Up next is Cappucino round's.

Your sensory judges are looking
at the consistency of the foam,

making sure there's a nice sheen.

They're looking at your art on top,

making sure it's symmetrical.

And then for taste,

we want a harmonious balance
between milk and espresso.

That's difficult to make sure that

the espresso is at
the forefront of the cappuccino.

Finally is the signature drink round.

And this is where the competitor
has to take it to the next level.

They use their imagination
and they're taking the espresso

to new heights by combining it
with new ingredients

and they're serving it in any
method they can dream up

but absolutely everything
has to have a purpose.

In this round, competitors are judged on

synergy of their ingredients
in the espresso.

They're judged on
the explanation of the drink

and the execution of making that drink.

That's pretty much it
but before I forget,

you have to worry about
all these other rules too.

My brother is too, when he was

like five or six,
he learned how to play chess.

And then I was born and
he would take me as like

a tiny little baby as soon
as I learned how to sit up

and he would put me on
the other side of the chessboard

and he would play chess with me
and he would make me move

the pieces and at first
my family was appalled.

Like oh my God, what is...
What is he doing with this little kid?

Um but then they realized that, I was

like before I could speak,
I at least learned like how

to move pieces and I learned what to do.

So he would show me what to
do and I would mimic it.

So we were a five-year-old and
a baby learning how to play chess

on their own and that's
when my family realized

we were creepy and smart.

I figure out how you get something done

and I'll get there.

I study everything non-stop.

I kind of reference a myriad
of books like culinary books,

psychology books, just like
the science of tasting.

There are actual books just
on flavour complements,

which are handy.

Public speaking books,
which are also super helpful.

I try to do a lot of
research in my life.

That's something that never stops,

whether it's competition season or not.

I have huge ideas.

The hard part with competition, for me,

is you come up with
these like grandiose ideas

but in the long run you
only have fifteen minutes.

Months before competition

we're just like the most
intense fucking focus.

Border Collie like focus where
you're walking down the street

and it's like you're almost
not seeing other things.

So this is me?


So this particular cup of coffee,

you can go ahead and
try it and taste it.

I'll try it with you.

The first one's characterized
by its sweetness.

This one you haven't characterized yet.


But if you said mouth feel
I would accept.

If you said acidity,
I would accept because...

It's acidity.


Everything else was like above
average but this one is like...


Outstanding, yeah exactly.

Let's do it. Is this it?

This is it.

- That's it?
- Yeah.

- A little more.
- Nice.

That's how we pull our shots here.

It's espresso.

Drink this one coffee until
you want to puke, you know?

But have this amazing exercise
of having learned a coffee

really well so that you really
know just by watching it fall

if that one's going to be good or not.

I tried to not be a coffee
person all the time

but nobody lets me.

- Is a Burr grinder really worth it?
- Yes.

But what if you buy good beans
and use a shitty grinder?

What's better?
Shitty grinder with good beans

or good beans ground way long ago?

It's cool. I can like tell the difference
between like Indonesian coffee

and Ethiopian coffee now
'cause I like both a lot.

French press? Good? Bad?

So this dude who was just questioning me

when we were all hanging out,

just rapid fire with the questions,

that's what happens.

Everybody has their own way
like with the espresso machine.

They're always like...

Like lick your fingers
before you turn the knob?

What's up with French presses
tasting like shit, you know?

What's better?

Trader Joe's coffee or
McDonald's coffee, you know?

As if there's like
a definitive answer to all of it

and... and that's what they want.

This competition with coffee... What?

Yes. Yes.

That's crazy.

And is it kind of like
sommelier culture?

It's like you just will like
sip it and spit it out?

No. It's a service competition.

Competitions where they're
like flipping the shit around?

Not at all.

I was hiring baristas
for Intelligentsia,

which is a really competitive company.

There was all this shit that
you had to make all the time

like on the clock, you know,
and you had seconds

to make this thing and
it had to be perfect.

We as a company are super into it.

We've been into it for a long
time so we have full support.

And then competition season
happened and then the

competition's on the computer
in the office and everyone's

watching it and I'm like what,
what the hell is this?

We have a training lab at our
headquarters in Los Angeles

with like a fake set-up so like
a machine and a judges' table

and that kind of thing.

I didn't know any of
that stuff was out there

until I was working in it.

I remember, so first of all
they call your name.

Eden-Marie Abramowicz,

Intelligentsia Coffee,

your 2013 Southwest Barista
Regional Champion!

And I know I was hugging people
and they handed me a microphone.

Um, and I said a bunch of things.

I have no idea what I said
or who I thanked.

I think I thanked my family
and coffee people, um,

and then they start shoving
things at you like,

oh you got this and hold
this and take a picture

and it gets really crazy.

Everyone's super sweet.
I don't really remember it.

Like your adrenaline is so high
that I kind of blacked out.

Yeah, I'm watching my

performance from regionals.

I'm like barely doing anything
right now but you can just see

like if this was Super Mario

the points would just be going crazy.

They'd be like brrrrrrr.
So look at this.

I had so many points, that's why.

I had so many points.

Ladies and gentlemen, your champion

from Intelligentsia Coffee,

Charlie Habegger.

You can't see

'cause it's pixilated
but I'm crying so hard,

just shaking, weeping.

I'm just talking shit to all of them.

It doesn't matter who you work for.

When you're on the clock
and you're presenting,

you're competing against
yourself and... and that's it.

You have your own
challenges to deal with.

It doesn't matter what anyone
else has said because you,

you know, believe in what you're
doing so much and it requires

so much focus that you're only
competing against yourself.

These chickens don't
even like being fed.

- I fed them already, I told you.
- Yep.

We do have a baby on the way.

We're at twenty-one weeks,
um, this week.

- Twenty-three.
- Twenty-three weeks this week.

It used to be months so I don't know why

they changed that for me.

- Did that... was that for me only?
- That was just for you.

There's the legs.

Got some legs there.

We have a whole lot of
three-dimensional ultrasounds

that we can show you.

Lots of pictures.

We got lots of pictures of him already.

You got a penis right there. Boom.

I... I had a very strange
relationship with my dad

and he passed away a few years
ago and so I do have one tattoo,

that one that's on my palm.

The skull and cross bones and date.
That's the date that he passed away

and I was pretty heartbroken
about the regrets.

Yeah and, you know, I never got
to make my dad coffee, sadly.

I think I always really
wanted to be a parent.

I... of all the things that I
didn't know I wanted to do,

um, being a good dad was one of 'em.

I did know I wanted to do that.

I'm not trying to let anybody down.

I pretty much run with a study follow up
disappointment fear all the time.

Yep. A drink is being born.

This is in the Elida.

The Elida?
So like a naturally processed...

Naturally processed,
super fruity, super sweet.

I'm not happy with it.

That's a sad one.

The one that I really, really can't wait

for you to tell me about is
the Chive French toast actually.

I'm looking in the compendium
to see how many of these

you wrote in here and
I'm not seeing actually any.

I don't actually think I wrote...

Oh interesting. Okay.

Sorry. I'm running out of,
running out of steam.

Yeah baby. Okay.

Here we go. Cold cap.

Take the P train.

Anybody want a sip of this?

- You want to taste it?
- I feel like it's success.

It's funny 'cause when
people ask what does your husband do

and I say, he's a barista,

I always want to explain it more

'cause I always want to say
but it's more than that.

He does this and there's all this to it.

When I want to marry this
guy that is a barista,

it doesn't sound like a grown-up job.

Sometimes I joke around
and tell people like

if you would have told
me eight years ago

that I was going to be
a competitive barista,

I would have laughed in your face.

But, um, I think if you
would have told my wife,

you know, fifteen years ago,
hey, you're gonna grow up

and fall in love with
a dude who makes coffee

and it's gonna be really intense, um,

I can't imagine that she would,
she would believe you,

ah let alone hope for that.

So basically once
everything's said and done,

once I sort of get an idea
for what I want to do

for competition or what
I'm thinking about doing

or something along those lines,

I'll sort of narrow down ah
the coffees that I want to use

and then just cup 'em all side by side.

Coming in with ah with
a more simple coffee, um,

with fewer sort of more
stand out tasting notes,

that to me ah is one of
the things that makes the coffee

very easily communicateable
and in a... in a competition

based so heavily on communication,

ah it seems like you might be
kind of shooting yourself in the foot

to go on with a coffee
that's... that's overly complex.

So when people are totally
okay with mediocrity, um,

I'm not... I'm not particularly
offended by that.

Um, I used to be.
It used to really bother me.

It's like well don't you want the best?
Um and then I realized

that um some people really are just okay

with something simple and not great

and, um, it's just a different mindset.

My parents were like it's a coffee shop.

Like you're... you're spending how
many hundred dollars a month

on gasoline just to get to work?

Like you're spending
three hours in the car

every single day to go make a coffee?

And it never really computed.

It was never... it was
always like well why,

why are you driving so far?

Why are so spending so much time
and so much energy to go make coffee?

And then I think, um, I think when I,

when I went to competition last year

and... and they... they saw that,

I think that's when it became like oh.

Oh I think I get it now.

Or I think I get it at
least to a degree larger

than I did before,
that it's not... it's not

green aprons and... and pushing buttons.

It's a... it's a craft.

It's um, it's a... it's
an apprenticeship.

You know, it doesn't... it doesn't
matter what shop you train at,

whether it's big or whether it's small

or whether it's your first time
or you've been there a lot.

When you're down there you're all alone

and what you're capable of,
even if you're the best,

there's somebody better than you.

Gosh, toughest competition in Boston?

Um... well like I said before,

Charles Babinski, uh, was my educator

when I was at Intelli ah Venice
and, uh, he's a beast.

On Charles Babinski?

He's kind of golden, man.
He's kind of golden.

Yeah, Charles is awesome, you know.

He's one of the guys who when
you talk about the people

who feel like they sort of get
compelled or called every year

to come back and keep
competing, like that's Charles.

He's a soldier.

He's the coolest presenter ever.
He's just so likeable.

He's a charmer, man, you know?

He's... I think anybody he talks
to is, uh, just captivated.

I don't understand how anyone
could not fall in love with him.

Few have challenged me the way
he has in order to get better.

He came up to me and before
he's, I think he was munching

on something and I was like,
oh hey, and he saw I was nervous

and he came up to me and just
both hands right up here,

slightly taller than me so he's
kind of looking down on me

and I felt really small in his arms.

He has a very cool, confident way

of doing exactly what he wants to do.

Really great things are... are evident

to anybody who's paying attention.

There's a reason why Charles'
companies get written about by,

you know, all the local pubs here in LA.

There's a reason why like
we pretty much consider

anything those guys do news.

Hi. My name's Charles Babinski,
champion barista.

I make coffee for a living.

I'm here to tell you about
the Krups EA9000 fully automatic

espresso machine.

Inspired by professionals,

it's kind of like having
a barista in your home.

There's this technique,
which is called sumi-e

which was popular in Japanese
warfare and then also in art

and then possibly also in
like sushi cheffing as well

where basically it's like
the... the craftsperson

or the warrior spends time
meditating next to their tools

or their weapons to sort of
clear their mind so that

the moment they pick it up
they're free of inhibitions

and that what comes out between them

and their tool is a sort
of like unhindered,

unconscious expression.

Like when I'm roasting
coffee I will do that.

Um one of the...
One of the roasters in Chicago

that I most look up to was, he
would be like never roast angry,

or you'll be able to taste it, you know?

And I was like shut
the fuck up, you know?

But I think about that all the time.

I'm like ah I'm in a bad mood.

I gotta chill out or the roast
is gonna be off, you know?

So there is a kind of like,
there is, you know, there's...

you feel like there's
a life in your work,

what you're doing and
that you have to be...

you have to approach it gently,
you know,

in order for it to be like pure.

Eight hours a day ah
every hour on the hour,

Truman and I are running back
to back sets at each other

trying to win.

That's pretty much it.

Truman and I just um um um back
and forth, back and forth,

back and forth and ah truthfully
it just really honed us

into a super sharp edge.

Generally our espresso
machine sits right here.

Ah as of right now,

this is playing the role of
the 2012 rules and regulations

prep table and we will normally
for the last month or so

we've scaled down our
six-seat reservations down to

four-seat reservations and
we have sort of jimmy-rigged

our espresso machine
over here on top of our

low boy refrigerator so that
we can have an exact mockup

of our competition space so
that we can block and compete

and practice as if we were
with the real judges.

And so I would do this thing

where I would take a big whiteboard

and I would draw characters

and I'd do four of them for
the sensory judges so that

I could plant the whiteboard
behind my practice table

and I could roll up and I could,
you know,

start my music and pick
up my carafe of water

and start pouring waters
for the judges there

and putting them in front of
these like cartoon people

on the whiteboard and then

take the whiteboard away,
put real people,

put your friends back there
and then you just do it like

over and over again.

At least I would so that every
single time I did this service

it came out differently.

Like my word choice was different,

the order that I went in was
different because for me,

for service to feel authentic,
it needs to have

some element of spontaneity.

And what we've been
doing recently is, um,

is pulling in customers
and ah using sort of a

modified score sheet
for the sensory judges.

We allow them to play
the role of a sensory judge

and so they sit in one
of these four seats,

hang out for about an hour and
both myself and Ryan will... will

spiel at them for fifteen minutes,

make them all... all of our drinks
and we both run through

our exact competition sets,
step for step, word for word

in front of real, uh, real
customers playing the,

playing the part of... of judge.

We find ourselves

ving a lot of speeches ah
out leaving ego at the door

and really focusing on the competitors

and documenting their experience

and giving everyone kind of the best,

most fair shake at becoming
a barista champion.

Here's our first cappuccino.

It's gonna get sat down in front.

We're gonna look at it,
visual assessment.

We're gonna grab a spoon.

I want you to go for it.


I would go sideways with the spoon.

If you are confused...

Look at the head judge?

Look at the head judge.

Anybody know the thickness
of this pencil?

One centimeter?

About a centimeter, yeah,

so you only need to have
about this much foam.

So many times we get caught up in oh

I need to have this much foam.

A really great score is going
to involve crema that,

like we said, sort of is tight,

tiny micro bubbles that
expand and contract evenly,

no tapering on the edges,
some structure but not,

not again that floating
island sort of thing.

How was your CNB?

How's your stretch?

Yeah. When you're writing notes,

be an investigative reporter.

Write the facts.

Turn, sip, sip.

Both getting everybody

onto the same page and
understanding what exactly

we're looking for and having those,

those rules and regulations
memorized is... is vital.


You are in a position

where you need to be close to flawless.

Yeah. You gotta be perfect.

You gotta be perfect.

Good is not good enough.

In the first case, um, which is
the technical abilities, um,

that's measuring gram waste, if
your station is set up properly,

if your milk pitchers are wrong.

They're timing all of
your espresso shots.

If there's a drop of water

on the grill you lose a point for that.

All four of my sensory
judges once took off

a point each because I touched my face.

They're watching all of the stuff.

A lot of these competitions

come down to winning by just
a couple of points, you know,

which come down to making
like little mistakes.

Like oops, I tamped unevenly this time.

That's a point, you know?

There's an available 870 points
and you don't get close to that.

The spectator,

the common spectator doesn't
notice but the barista,

the technical judges, they're
having like this congress

of like noticing.

Like everybody... everybody
is there to notice.

When that timer hits

fifteen minutes and
they're not done yet,

all of the judges are also tense
and we're like finish, finish

and we don't ever want
anyone to disqualify.

We want everybody to do amazingly well.

We want to have a really
difficult time picking the best

because everybody was so good.

I watched somebody dump their entire set

of signature beverages onto
the ground and all of their glasses

shattered and they
didn't have any backups.

That did happen.

Holy cow!

You have to be really, really
good at what you're doing.

It's kinda... it's kinda

breaking yourself down to
what you are at your core.

Like taking something
you think you're good at

and then being told
you're not good enough

and being able to hear
that and say okay,

what can I do to make it better?

'Cause otherwise
the competition will break you.

It's two weeks till Boston

and I... I just won and now all of
a sudden I have to go and do

this routine and I don't know
if I should change my routine.

I don't know if should keep
the same exact routine

'cause I did well.

One mistake is absolutely the difference

between winning and losing last minute.

I'm a girl. I stress about
what I'm gonna wear.

That's silly but like you need
an outfit for your routine.

Everyone is... their eyes are on you.

I don't know. I...

these competitions are a lot of sort of

beating your head against
a wall trying to come up with

what is the thing you want to say.

There can be a lot of value to
be reaped from fifteen minutes

of silence that you have
to fill with your ideas

and I don't think that
can be underestimated.

You practice and you
practice and you practice

until you're doing
the same thing every time

but you're never doing it
the same way more than once

and that's when I feel
like I really know it.

Um hello judges.

Uh this may sound a little bit crazy

but I've had this experience
a number of times in my life

where I pick up some
thing that is organic.

This could be like a leaf,
it could be a bug.

I've had it happen with
the palm of my own hand where

you look at this thing
and it's really simple

and you understand it very
well and then you decide to look

a little bit and a little
bit closer and you realize...

Anything that is biological...

Anything that is biological...

Or anything biological is really
just a series of complex systems

that work together to create
something that's more than

the sum of its parts.

I have this experience
with coffee all the time.

I have that exact same experience

with coffee all the time.

And I have this experience
with coffee all the time.

Coffee is supposed to be
the simplest of things,

which is why it is among
the most complicated.

That's what I'm trying to say.

Whenever you're choosing
music for a competition,

these things are incredibly
important so we're gonna try

to create ten experiences over
the course of fifteen minutes

with like three songs, um, and
that's incredibly difficult.

Um you could potentially lose
points, um, for professionalism

if say you were doing
like Rick Ross only.

Like if you did some
non-parental guidance Rick Ross

on your set list you might get
docked for professionalism

because he is choicey with the words,

if you know what I'm saying.

Sorry. I don't know if
that's appropriate at all.

Ruff. Ross. No? Okay.

Make some noise, ladies and gentlemen.

Five hundred dollars on the line.

Make some noise.


One! Two! Three!

I think everybody sees
the second thing as being

a little bit ah awkward
but, ah whatever.

Many people like to say that it
doesn't matter but it matters.

You want to be the best, um, obviously

and we want our company to be the best

and that's just who we are.

It's in our DNA.
It's how we think.

Gosh. To finish second three
years in a row, you know?

And moments in which where it's
only been by points, you know?

It's like I've... I...
I have felt for him, you know?

But I mean hey, at least you
didn't come in third, right?

There happened to be
a jar of tarragon and plum jam

in the refrigerator that was
like really, really old,

like partially crystallized
and so I just took a spoon

and put it in the bottom
of a Gibraltar glass,

pulled the shot on top

and whisked it together
and then I tried it

and it was exactly...

well it wasn't exactly what I
wanted 'cause what I wanted

was something totally different
but it was delicious.

So then I decided that I
would sort of like I would

customize a jam that would
complement the coffee.

That's how I came up with blackberry.

So far I've tried tarragon,
basil, rosemary, sassafras,

all for bitterness, right?

'Cause bitterness is good.
That's why things are complex.

I've never made jam before
in my life so what I'm,

what I'm going to do is I'm
going to make something

from scratch for the first time
that's gonna taste exactly

the way that I have it
tasting in my head.

Its just gonna be fine, right?

The signature drink is sort
of like the thesis, right?

It's like okay now to
tie it all together,

like all that stuff, you know?

The jam is the basis because

it adds just like
straightforward decadence.

So it's technically a jelly but
like judges don't necessarily

want to hear you say jelly on stage.

Because I was... I would do
a run-through or something

and... and whenever
I would call it jelly,

all of my friends on
the like mock sensory panel

would just start giggling.

Fuck. Um I went through
like this much tarragon,

which is a lot,

just like trying to make
like a little bit of jam.

There was nothing left over in the end.

The bottom line is that
what you're serving

should not work with any other coffee.

What you're serving ought to taste great

because it was done to this
one particular coffee.

And most of the time with
good signature drinks,

that's the case. Unless
it's just like Nutella,

you know, peanut butter and
raspberry or something.

Then it's like, fuck, you know?

Serve me anything.

You... you run through
an incredible amount of bad ideas

when you do these.

Oh gosh. All the... all the time.

I've done bacon fat mochas
and stupid stuff like that

where you're like this is gross.

This is gross.

I have bacon fat in my
mustache right now.

I barely taste chocolate.
You're out of your mind.

I've had those days.

I've made those drinks
and ah you have to.

You have to.

All I remember was that I called it...

by the end I was referring
to it somewhat snidely as

symphony in brown 'cause
that's what it was.

It was just an array of brown
things that tasted brown.

You have to be able to
come up with an idea,

try to execute it the best way possible,

realize that it's a disaster
and be like forget that idea.

I was gonna make this
massive infusion and I was

gonna pour it into the bowl
and it was gonna waft up

like a big old-fashioned
cold remedy or something

and the judges were gonna
sit down and be like, pfff ah,

and of course their minds were
gonna be blown and then I was

gonna put this little
drink right in the middle

and have them pull it
out and it was gonna be

highly culinary and very high reaching

and of course none of it worked.

All of the mixtures I tried
just smelled like sweat.

And that's what we do all the time.

Effectively oh gosh probably,

probably four months or so ago I
had this idea to distill coffee.

It's not for everyone and we're...
we're so

one hundred percent okay
with that, you know?

Oops. This got put in the wrong spot.

Gosh darn it.

Got my tube ah backward.

People are like, oh are you excited?

And while I am incredibly
excited, um, it's like man,

today I spent three hours
researching the best kind

of ah insulation tubes for my condenser

so that it didn't condense onto
the table because, you know,

if it condenses on
the table you lose points.

So it's so funny that it's no longer...


the coffee part is on lock so
now you just have to make sure

everything else gets on lock.

Gosh. It's so awesome.

I just want to stick my nose in
it and see what was going on,

you know?

So now once this starts
to come up to a boil,

all of the things that
are most volatile,

all of the things that give
us flavour and aroma will,

will evaporate first
and then effectively

what's happening here is all
of those volatile compounds

are being now turned into steam.

All of that steam that's
comprised of all of the most

volatile characteristics as
you can see it just started

will then be reconverted
back into its liquid state.

So cool.

Different things evaporate
at different times

so the first drops taste totally
different than the last drops

and it really at this, like
with this whole process

it's a matter of knowing when
to stop it 'cause eventually

you'll take all of
the things that you like

and leave all the things
that you don't like

and if you let it go too far
then you get too much.

This is the product from the distillers.

It's distilled coffee,
perfectly clear, um,

crazy aromatic, tastes totally
different than it smells.

Truly just everything that...
that evaporates off of coffee first.

Ah really fun.

Are you sure you don't
want any of this ice cream?

Even if I make it with like

a negative three hundred degree liquid?

That drink has been around
way before me and in fact

liquid nitrogen to make
the ice cream part of it,

part is way before me too.

Um the only difference is
that in fifteen minutes

to make ice cream and serve
twelve drinks is super hard

and so with my hands I had to
figure out if I could even do it

and then start to put
the words and the coffee parts

together later and fantastically
again because of Truman

and the hard work that we
put in there together,

I learned how to do that.

Ah, thanks Mino.

- Is this messing up your work at all?
- No.

Are you able to continue Facebooking

while I'm making ice cream?

I don't Facebook.

I'm gonna need some spoons.

- You guys want some ice cream?
- Yes please.

- Sam, you want some ice cream?
- Yeah.

All right.

- You want some ice creams, buddy?
- Give it to me off the whisk.

Didn't see that coming, did ya?

Not at all. It's good though.

You, you can't have any.
No sugar.

You liked it a lot.
You're my favourite.

She liked it the most out
of everybody, I can tell.

Yeah. Thank you.

It's so visually stimulating
with the clouds of smoke

and the roaring boil
at room temperature.

Gotta do it.

I mean my mom
was totally worried about it.

She was just like you're gonna have a baby
and you guys don't earn very much money.

Dee, I have a decaffeinated
latte for you up on the bar.

That's what you're doing all the time

at the highest possible standard
that you can hold yourself

and then yeah you walk away
with the same paycheque

as if you were slinging
a McDouble at somebody's face

through... through a drive-thru.

Always talking about that
magical day when baristas

will make six figures and be
thought of in the same breath

as sommelier and things like
that and working for years

and not feeling any closer to that day.

He's just worth more than
what he's getting paid

and it's getting very obvious I think.

Like look around, you know what I mean?

Like we haven't done
anything yet, you know?

Like every day is a struggle.

If you think with
the American dream of presenting,

you walk into a bank after
building a business plan

and it's so good that they
approve your business plan

and give you a loan.

No, that's not the way
it happens at all.

That American dream is mmm...

that's not exactly what's...
what's going on out there.

In some ways these competitions
are almost like the, um,

you know, like a... like a...
like a scouting report or like the

minor leagues for like
for major league baseball.

You know, you come here and you
do really well and you can get

all kinds of investment
opportunities from it,

all kinds of like open your own shop
opportunities from it and stuff.

There's quite a few people
who I know who, you know,

were able to kind of make a name
for themselves professionally

through barista competitions
first and then have like had all

these other career opportunities
kind of come from that.

Yeah, winning changes. Winning
changes your life as a barista.

Your life changes because
you go down in history

and no one is allowed to forget
that you did this thing

so you will always have that
mark, which is... which is

really big because people
will always fill the pedestal

with somebody.

The idea of a national champion,
like there always has to be

somebody there and if that's
you then like of course

that changes everything.

Remember the scene
from "Gangs of New York"

where he's like teaching him how
to shave and he cuts his face

and he's like no, son, you
never wipe the blood off

because it was the pre-battle shave.

Sometimes you just need coffee,

no matter where it's from,
a little caffeine.

Fucking great.

Judges, I'd like to present
my new signature drink.

Well I... I miss you like terrible
and, uh, you know, I'm just,

you know, I'm a little nervous.

There's a lot of... a lot of
friends I'm gonna see and

compete against and I don't know.

I just wish you were here with me.

Now that it's the morning
of competition, um, oh massive.

Massive nerves. Yeah.

When I saw Truman compete at
regionals on the computer,

I remember thinking like when
it got to his signature drink

and he busts out this apparatus
and he starts explaining it

and I'm like what the fuck is going on?

Because it was so different
from the way that we all

thought about competition.

Truman's, Truman's
setup is fucking crazy.

It's like the mad scientist
coming in and at regionals

I didn't get to quite catch his routine.

I just caught like a glimpse of
these crazy, you know, devices.

I didn't understand what was
happening and then he was

explaining to me what
he was doing to coffee

and he gave me this clear liquid.

I was like what the fuck?
What am I about to drink?

Um and it was beautiful
and... and super great.

But that's like, I was like
what, what is up with this guy?

You know?
Like what's up with Portola?

And people are like oh yeah,
that's Portola's thing,

you know?

They're like, they're
the crazy scientists.

And I'm like, no shit.

Same with Ryan.
What did Ryan have at regionals?

- He had like the crazy...
- Affogato?

Yeah. He was making ice cream on stage.

How ter... like those
are the things which

those two have the balls
to do that blows my mind.

Like making ice cream on
stage can go epically wrong.

I mean I am totally worried
about the ice cream part of it.

How... how... how is that part
going to go over on Monday?

Ahhh! I'm sorry, I was doing
a quick Mountain Dew commercial.

There's a lot of pressure.

I went up to Chicago for
like a couple days ago

just for like a day which
was kind of a whirlwind

and, um, worked with Charlie
and we kind of went through

my routine and just decided
to keep it mostly the same

and we amped up a little
bit so I'm hoping

that those changes bring
it to the next level, um,

but we'll see.

Everything that
we do has to be perfect, um,

and we work so hard on these
routines and we work so hard on

how our coffee's gonna taste
that day and we're exhausted

because we've been traveling
and training constantly, um,

and then you have to look good.

Everything needs to be in place,
from with you're wearing to how,

how you're gonna present
yourself in front of these

judges and in front of the industry.

In the... in the end you
want like, you know,

a hundred and five percent
version of yourself.

This one, this one is
the most comfortable.

Ah Babinski is great.

Um, you know,
all the Intelligentsia baristas

are coming to win.

It's a... it's a great crowd of
people that seriously know

what they're doing in coffee
and so it's anybody's ballgame.

There's no amount of...

there is no amount of reading
and practicing that's gonna,

that's gonna change
the amount of competition

that I'm gonna be facing today.

So you love coffee so much

and you spend all this time with it

and you, uh, you...
you give it these years

that you could be spending
doing other things,

uh making more money or, you know,

spending more time on your
education or all of these

other things whose careers
exist ah only to realize

that it's difficult to
make a living at it.

So what do you do?

You become the world's best barista.

♪ Or anywhere

♪ Something that you needed?

♪ That you needed.

Good afternoon.

We need the element of surprise.

In order to open our customers' eyes

to everything that coffee can be.

We need to subvert their
expectations of what coffee is.

So instead of a spice aroma, I'm
gonna give you a citrus aroma.

Instead of apple, an orange acidity.

Instead of fruit, caramel flavours

and instead of a sweet finish,
a spicy finish.

For that spicy aftertaste, I'm
just gonna mist each glass

with a ginger syrup so you taste
that ginger just at the very end

of the drink.

For that caramel flavour,
I'm gonna use a date syrup,

which is made from fruit.

And for that orange acidity,
I'm gonna use

a five percent solution of citric acid,

which is the organic acid
that gives oranges

their distinctive tartness.

So melon juice is, um,
is a more sweeter, more vi...

uh sweeter and milder
grapefruit and it's gonna help

bring acidity to this drink but
also not overwhelm that acidity

we had in the espresso.

It's gonna help it spread
across the palate in a...

This is uh brown sugar simple syrup,

which is perfect for what
we want to use it for.

It's light and sweet and
it's gonna also resemble

that caramelization process,
caramelization of the roast.

Cooled in an ice bath,
it's gonna add some body

to this drink but also serve
as the main star of the show.

So I've taken two shots
of the older harvest

and I mix them with egg white
and grade B maple syrup

and we're creating a foam
that's gonna be the top layer

of the beverage.

This bottom layer, this
is the December harvest

combined with a little bit
of reduced grapefruit juice.

The combination of
these elements together

create a really balanced drink
that continue to tell us the

story of how coffee changes.

I'll try not to burn Scott's hair off.

All right so and hopefully you
can smell ah catch a whiff.

I won't blow it at you,
that would be weird

but of the burnt sugars.

So that when you drink it
I ask that your first sip,

please ah suck that grapefruit
garnish down and enjoy

the unique texture that
the burnt sugar offers on top.

It's almost like a candy-coated shell.

In coffee obviously we have
a small amount of bitterness

to create complexity and
interest in the drink

and balance it out.

Because I added the sugar,
I have to add a bitters.

You're going to taste
the grape-like acidity

now being accentuated by those
citrus notes in the bitters.

You're gonna taste that deep,
heavy sweetness

now with the body from the dilution

turning into almost a chocolate.

Now this is a very simple
drink and I'll tell you that

I don't think a drink needs
to be incredibly difficult

or complicated to be
incredibly delicious.

Now that far left flavour is
a liquefied coffee cheesecake

that I made from mascarpone, an
eighteen-hour cold extraction

of the Naranjos, a little
bit of ground cacao nibs

and a little bit of raw sugar.

This drink is comprised
of six shots of Naranjos,

thirty grams of that
caramelized tangerine juice,

twenty-five grams of
that red apple reduction

and twenty grams of that
liquefied cheesecake.

This drink is gonna be warm
and you can go ahead

and take your first drink now.

And how long have you
been with Dallis Brothers?

Three years now.

So previous to that?

Working back home in Australia.

Was there anyone
back home supporting you...?

And ever if I told you
hey, I don't want to win,

that was me lying to you so
that I could beat you, okay?

'Cause I'm competitive.
There's no doubt about it.

Are you the runner?

All right guys.
We're gonna keep moving,

bump over here to station number three,

Mr. Ryan Redden,

representing Portola Coffee Labs
out of Costa Mesa, California.

Big round of applause.

Ryan, are you all miked up?

I am, I think.
Can you hear me?

- I can hear you.
- I can hear you.

Sweet. I'm excited for this one.

All right Ryan.

Take a deep breath as they settle in.

There you are.

All right. Hello.
My name's Ryan.

I am very, very excited to
prepare some coffee for you

this afternoon.

The coffee that I'll be
preparing for you today,

porphyrio arera yamulca is
a wet processed coffee

that was sun dried, grown at
1700 meters above sea level

and comes to us from Ecuador
by way of "Café Imports",

and at ten bags in total, truly
this is a micro lot of coffee.

What I have in front of you are
a couple of scent indicators

for the flavours that we
are going to be tasting

in this wonderful espresso,

one of which is rose water
and rose petal.

The other is orange and orange syrup.

Now those things happened
to come out of this coffee

on the cupping table.

Once it arrived to us,

we cupped it several
different roast levels

over several different
times and this one, 406,

at just under ten minutes was
the one that we decided upon

because of this wonderful floral
ah bouquet that comes to you

and translates deliciously
into the flavours in the cup.

Please smell from both
of those vessels so that

you can get ready for
the flavours that I expect.

Everybody got a chance to smell
from all of these vessels right?


Now what I'm gonna do is combine
these together as you go ahead

and enjoy your espressos.

As I've combined these flavours
into the scent indicator

in front of you, we're gonna go
ahead and combine the flavours

of this wonderful espresso with milk.

That is... that is going to involve
two very complex elements

that come together to
produce almost yet another

wonderful flavour element,
one of malted grain,

of sweet cereal that comes out

and lets the acidities
of that wonderful orange

and the rose petal take a back seat.

Without further ado,

I'm gonna go ahead and
start these cappuccinos.

I'll be... whoops.

So now as I explain to you this,
this signature beverage,

I know that you've been sitting
here looking at this thing boil

and you've been thinking
to yourself why.

It's liquid nitrogen.

I intend to make an affogato for
you as your signature beverage.

What I'm going to do is I'm
going take some of these

lovely things that we used
as a scent indicator,

as a flavour indicator
in these espressos.

I'm gonna then infuse them
with fifty percent cream.

The total of this is eighty grams.

I'm gonna go 50/50 with cream,
negative 321 degree

cryogenic liquid to then
freeze it into ice cream.

I'm gonna pre-cool these
cups just a little bit

for your ice cream.

So now as I prepare your...
your ice cream for this,

I'm gonna talk to you a little bit about

how I'll have you ah consume this.

You're gonna go ahead and
have a bite of ice cream,

combine them together, swirl around,

have it as a beverage.

What that's gonna do
is allow the ice cream

to become a flavour indicator
and an ingredient

in your signature beverage.

And that's what's gonna allow
that infusion to work its way

into our cream

and that's what's gonna give
us this really delicious

flavour profile that we
extracted from that espresso

and use it again in our
signature beverage.

To get people excited about
what I do is my favourite part

so hopefully I've done that for you

with my visually distracting
liquid nitrogen.

Thank you.

It has been an honour and my pleasure

and I appreciate your time.
Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Mr. Ryan Redden

from Portola Coffee Labs,
Costa Mesa, California.

- Thank you.
- What's up?

Going into it,

very excited about my amazing revelation

and my changing coffee.

Coming out of it I was like, holy crap.

Why'd I do that?

After his competition
everyone rushed his,

everyone rushed his booth
to go get his ice cream.

There was just like...

I almost clotheslined that cat...

like a fifteen person
long line at his station

just trying to get
some of his ice cream,

which was damn good.
It taste like Christmas.

My grandma is like a huge coffee
drinker and like she's like

whenever like when I told her I was,

I was gonna compete the first time ah,

she like ran to her bedroom
and pulled out pictures ah

of me with coffee in my bottle,
um, which is, you know,

now that I look back on it
like probably not like

the best parenting decision
that somebody could have made

but ah it was almost ah, it
was almost a manifest destiny

at that point in time.

Whoa! Come over here.

It's like a science lab, man. Wow!

The mad scientist
is waiting to be ready.

I salute you and I wish you well.

Everybody, Truman Severson
from Portola Coffee Labs,

Costa Mesa, California.

How are we doing?

I, I started working in coffee
at Starbucks about six years ago

and there was a point in
time when we had just gotten

new espresso machines and my
boss came in one morning

and she pulled herself an espresso,

which effectively meant
hitting a button,

and then as she was drinking
it out of her paper cup

she exclaimed, oh this is
the best thing I've ever had.

I can't believe we ever served
our customers anything else,

to which I verbally responded
espresso cannot taste good

and that... that sort of caught me
off-guard 'cause I was like,

wait, hold on now, Truman,

espresso's been around for
a little bit longer than

sugar-free hazelnut syrup has

so maybe there's something
to this whole coffee thing.

My work as a barista
intrinsically hangs on the work

of an agronomist and a farmer
and a harvester and a processor

and a mill worker and an
importer and a roaster

all before me.

A few months back I had the idea.

My thought was I wonder if
we could distill coffee

and then have a hyper concentrated,

much like when you're
distilling a spirit,

which got me thinking,

okay I wonder if I can distill
off everything that makes coffee

taste like coffee.

So what that looks like
for you is a coffee

with a really articulate
orange peel acidity

and then a sweetness that is reminiscent

of stewed strawberries and cascara.

The Truman Severson work ethic,
ah a beautiful example of

somebody going, you know, as far
as he needed to in order to get

the education he was looking for
to be a coffee professional,

to stay in coffee.

I think it's a Picasso quote.

He says uh, good artists borrow,
great artists steal.

And the thing is is we're not
the only people doing it

and everybody's like oh how
did you come up with this

and it's always so frustrating
to me because, you know,

there's this... there's an
Einstein quote that says ah,

true creativity is knowing how
to hide your resources well.

I definitely find that ah
a lot of the things that I do

are total theft.

Really we're just, we're
just thieves where we're ah

we're just thieves stealing,
stealing the best ideas

from other people in
the coffee industry,

other people in every other industry

that we can pretend to
make relate to ours.

We'll do it.

We'll do it in a heartbeat.

Some people who are

perfectionists will just lose
their minds working in coffee

because no two espressos will
be the same or... or whatever.

They just can't control everything.

Like all of that amount of effort,

I mean impressive that that's
what they were going through

but it just, I was like damn,
you know what I mean?

It's impressive but man,

don't you want to go out
and see a movie instead?

Or don't you want to go
and like, um, you know,

go out to eat or some.

Just it, for me, it... it...
it spoke to the... the obsessed

sort of nature to-of it.

If 1.25% of the beverage is made
up of dissolved coffee solids,

then the other 98.75% of
the beverage is made up of water.

When you're talking about
Truman's idiosyncrasies

I think it, his attention to
detail in coffee translates

into other parts of his life
because when you have a craft

that you're perfecting and
you get every detail down

and pick apart every single detail,

you start to do that in
other aspects of you life.

You can't relax.

This is that zone
that I was talking about.

18 to 22 and 1.5 to 1
or 1.15 to 1.35.

I'm gonna go over and
do a refraction of this

and then we'll see exactly
where this particular coffee

we just brewed lines up.

To me, success would be

being a good husband,

one day being a good dad,
being a good person,

making more positive impacts
than negative impacts.

I think if I were to be
an incredibly successful

coffee person to
the detriment of my family,

I wouldn't... I wouldn't
count that as success.

If I owned a coffee shop that, you know,

made millions and... and was
the coolest, hippest,

most progressive ah storefront
on the face of planet earth

and... and I had a bad relationship
with my wife or my kids, um,

I would not count that as successful.

All right guys.

Making our way over to
station number one.

It looks like our judges are coming out.

It's my privilege to introduce to you

from Intelligentsia Coffee,
out of Chicago, Illinois,

Mr. Charlie Habegger.

Microphone? Oh.

And we're good.

Um, are you guys set?


Okay. Hi everyone.

Um so at the risk of sounding
uh a little bit juvenile, um,

I want to... I want to talk about
some experiences that I've had.

It's happened to me a few times
in my life where I pick up some

living thing and this could
be like a raspberry or a bug

or a leaf or it's even happened
to me with the palm

of my own hand and every
time this happens to me,

I find that the closer I look
there's always this moment

where I realize that
it's actually not just

a single thing, that there's
all this complexity

and variety underneath
that I never noticed before

because no biological
thing is monolithic.

Anything that's biological
is really a complex series

of systems that are separate
but they work together to make

something that makes sense, right?

So I also work with coffee a lot

and I have this experience
a lot with coffee

because coffee to me is
a lot like a living thing.

Where the closer I look
at a particular coffee,

the more I really see.

I want you guys to imagine that
all of the different items

you see in this bowl represent flavours

that you might encounter if
you were to cup multiple lots

of coffee from within a very
small production region.

There are buyers, roasters,
importers, exporters, whomever,

can do this and literally
build a coffee lot for lot

using just the items that
are of the highest quality.

So the coffee that I'm
gonna serve was created

exactly this way and
it tastes a lot like

what you see in the glass,
blackberry aromatics.

I've used some lemon and
some white chocolate

to evoke a kind of citrus curd.

Vanilla bean and then
a really clean crisp finish

that reminds me a lot of basil.

So make yourselves comfortable.
I'll be right back.

I found myself having a craft for,

like a real craft for the first time

and I didn't realize how
much I needed one in my life

until I had one.

And I would have customers come up to me

and say things like we just,

we love watching your hands, you know?

Or something, something
really creepy like that and

but then you realize it's like
well you're really working

with this machine and it's
like you can get to a point

where it really does feel
like an extension of you

and it's kind of beautiful.

If you can pull a particular
coffee differently

to get it to express well
in different drinks,

that to me is a really
successful coffee.

Um, these cappuccinos are
a lot simpler than the espresso,

ah mostly vanilla custard
and also lemon cookie.

And Michelle, I'm just going
to clean yours up quickly.

There you are.
You're welcome, guys.

Same vessels for your spoons.

I sort of uncovered these
bowls in front of each

of the sensory judges and in
the bowls was this massive bouquet

of both delicious and
repulsive looking ingredients.

So some of them were dried mushrooms.

Some of them were, you know,

fresh like hunks of white chocolate.

I had lime wedges, vanilla beans,

but also some green coffee.

I had rocks.

Other like dried peppers.

I had peanuts still in their shell,

things like that you just
look at and it's like

there's nothing appetizing
about them, you know?

They just evoke salt or
astringency or like funk

or anything like that but
spliced with all these good ones

it, attempting to be just
a really simple visual metaphor

for the fact that coffee
sourcing is difficult.

Okay. This is my favourite part.

Final course, ah so what you
have in front of you is I think

a pretty ah intimidating
variety of flavours.

Some of them look immediately delicious.

Others, maybe not so much.

So I'm gonna start by
taking a vanilla bean.

Thanks Scott.

And I'm gonna add it to some water

that I've had simmering behind me.

Next, what I did was I
took a few blackberries

and a little bit of basil
and I combined them

and I made a jam because I
wanted a little more viscosity

in the espresso than there was
before and what I'm gonna do

is add ten grams of the jam
to each of your glasses.

That part took probably
thirty different tries for me

to get the jam just right.

On top of these, I'm gonna pull shots of
the San Augustine and I'll be right back.

So the final ingredient
here is going to be...

oh you also have the lime.
The lime.

Ah this is a difficult ingredient 'cause

it can overwhelm but I find
that in the right amount

it adds exactly the clarity that I want.

So that's gonna be the final ingredient.

So each glass gets a whisk.

There's always gonna be some
jam at the bottom of these

so they will get sweeter
as you drink them

um, and to each glass I'm
going to add ten grams

of the vanilla infusion.

And then each glass gets
three drops of lime.

So when you get this,
stir it like an espresso

and then just kick it back.

I wanted the signature
drink to be simple because

coffee is a complex thing but we
should allow it to be simple.

So thanks very much, guys.

Charlie Habegger,

Intelligentsia Coffee,
Chicago, Illinois.

Competition is it's... it's a sport.

I mean, your performance
is a sport and if you,

you have a good day and you
perform well then... then you,

you score well, you know?

And if you have a bad day
and you don't perform well

or if you miss a certain box, you know,

or if you miss the clock or something,

then that changes everything.

And I was fortunate enough to,

to be the emcee for
the southwest regional

barista competition and I was
able and fortunate enough

to see my friend, Eden-Marie, win.

This is our southwest regional champion

and I'm a California boy so
this makes me really proud.


All right so the start button
is the same start button

it was yesterday, girl.

You're fifteen minutes away.

Choose your, choose your
timing and I wish you luck.

I'll see you soon.

All right. Let's do it.

All right.

I wish I could remember
more about the first time

I ever tried coffee.

Looking back, I know I was pretty young.

I know it was a very intense experience

and probably not the most
pleasurable of experiences,

which is funny because now
look what I do every day.

I drink coffee all the time and
when I first try a new coffee

I brew it up and I immediately
start identifying

all these intricate and intense
flavours that I'm tasting.

So when I take that
coffee that I just tried

and I go to dial it in as espresso

do I get to choose one or two
of those flavours that I tasted

and dial in for that and
get rid of all the rest?


I believe a coffee's innate
characteristics are always

going to be present no
matter how you brew it.

The levels of intensity
of those flavours,

that's what's gonna change.

The flavour profiles that you're
gonna be getting are ripe peach,

brown sugar and a grapefruit acidity.

While you guys enjoy a sip
or two of this coffee,

I'm gonna go ahead and
pull some espresso

so we can see what gets turned
up and what gets turned down.

Part of my um maniacal
thing as a competitor is

I love breaking down their judge
façade because I was a judge

and I know what it's like
to like sit there and smile

and be ready to served things
and you, you are caught unaware

when a competitor asks you a question

or genuinely looks at you
and says how are you,

how are you doing today?

Um and you have to respond as a judge.

So they can say little things in return.

Um same thing, I could be up
there making a cappuccino

and I'm ranting about
varietals of coffee plants

and roast profiles but
then as I serve it

you make a little eye
contact and you say enjoy.

Have a good one.

Um and those little things
are tools to actually enrich

the experience for
the judge and make it real

so that you're not just
yelling facts at them.

Here you go, Marcus.

So as we all know, espresso
is not a homogenous mixture.

It's a suspension.
There's different layers.

So we're gonna take advantage of
that and we're not gonna stir.

The first sip we're getting
that lighter, airier oils

and gasses at the top.

That's where we're gonna see
our grapefruit note coming out.

So go ahead and take a sip of
just the top of your espresso.

The second sip we're gonna
stir thoroughly before we go.

Take your spoons and stir, stir, stir.

It's gonna be a heavier,
syrupy body and that's where

we're gonna be noticing
our ripe peach notes.

So go ahead and take your second sip.

Our last sip is always my
favourite for espresso

'cause that's where it
gets really, really sweet.

I'd like you to enjoy that
really nice brown sugar finish.

These cappuccinos, we're
gonna see some really nice

ah baked peach cobbler notes,

little bit of lemon zest.

But what I wanted to do
is I wanted to play with

the three concepts that
we did illustrate,

using only the innate
characteristics that we've had.

I'm not gonna add anything else

that I didn't see already in the coffee.

So our coffee was peaches,
brown sugar, grapefruit.

Our concepts that we've seen?

Articulation of flavours
from that brewed coffee,

approachability of flavours
from our cappuccinos

and intensity from that
espresso, so start with intense.

What I want to do is level
the playing field with the flavours,

bring them all on up to the top.

The brown sugar was probably
the lowest out of the bunch

when we tasting our espresso.

So what we're gonna do is I'm
gonna add a little bit of a nice

turbinado simple syrup that I made,

just five grams to the bottom
of our glass to sweeten it up.

Instead of adding any grapefruit juice,

I'm just gonna be using
the outside of the grapefruit

to get some of those oils.

Grapefruit juice is a little bitter.

We don't need that astringency in there.

So just a little bit of the citrus.

So please take in the nose
and enjoy some of the oils

and the strength and then hold off

and wait for some further
instructions for your drink.

So how do I make it approachable

without adding more flavours to it?


I'm gonna be serving
you guys fifteen grams

of pre-weighed out water that I
have on these silver pitchers.

Please add the pitchers in
its entirety to your drink

and then enjoy several more sips,

all of a sudden seeing
approachable flavours,

intense flavours and articulation.

Thank you guys so much.

All right.

Ladies and gentlemen, put your
hands together for Eden-Marie

of Intelligentsia Coffee,
Los Angeles, California.

You know, you look like you're dancing.

You're having a good mood.

You know, you're... it's...
it's a pixie flying around here

dropping little, little
fairy dusts of espresso

on the judges' foreheads.

Espresso for you.
Espresso for you.

What do you think of this?

- Was it fun for you today?
- It was so much fun, yeah.

I've competed in enough top sixes

and I've... I've competed
enough in general that

I don't get too carried
away with it, you know?

And I've... I've...
I've gone out the night before

and got like totally plastered

and competed the next day
hungover and I've, um, you know,

tried to get ten hours of sleep
and it doesn't really matter.

I ended up that night having
ah a really nice sort of

laid back night with ah Percy
and another friend in Boston

and just sat around, had
a drink, talked, you know,

took a bath.

He gets like super tightly
wound leading into these things.

This is, uh, he gets really stressed out

and he does a lot of run-throughs.

He has a totally different,
uh, sort of approach

than I do or I did, you know?

I was like once my routine was set

and I got like a few run-throughs,

I would not do it for a few days
before competing and, you know,

he's been like up till the wee hours

like just doing run-throughs
and stressing out.

I had nothing ready on the cart.

We were running back and forth.

We ran to the fridge.

We left stuff in the back so we
had to run backstage and, um,

and then on the way out we
literally uh the cart hit a bump

and the milk fell over and
the milk fell on top of all the cups

and towards the end like five
minutes left in the dial-in,

the grinder just decided to...
I don't know what happened.

It just started grinding very
coarse and we went to like

the finest setting and
it wasn't doing anything.

So the shots were just
running really fast

and we literally had the last
three minutes just frantically

trying to figure out
what was gonna happen

and we ran out of time.

You know, like once they say
like your practice time is done,

you're done.

All right ladies and gentlemen,
Charles Babinski, G&B Coffee.

All right.

Um are all of y'all ready?

All right. Let's do this.

Hi. So the definition of
espresso is thirty millimeters

of rich concentrated coffee
extracted at high pressure.

Now I personally prefer ah

a different definition of espresso,

that espresso is anything lovely

that comes out of that
machine over there.

Now with the first definition,

there's very specific
expectations about preparation

and specific expectations of flavour.

But when you expand
the idea of what espresso is,

you expand the possibilities
of what you can do

with great coffee, how you can serve it,

who you can serve it to.

Now this is espresso as
I've always known it.

It's big, intense flavours bursting out.

Are the acidity and sweetness balanced?

No, not at all.

But that's what the milk's for

and in milk that blackberry
becomes raisin, brown sugar

and today salted caramel.

But here, let me show ya.

I want you to look for raisin,
brown sugar and salted caramel.

All right, as always,

the cup on your right is for your spoons

and how are you doing today, Marcus?

Good? Awesome.

I opened up ah a shop in Los Angeles

and the experience has
put it into ah, you know,

made it very much ah very clear
how much a coffee shop runs

on selling people milk drinks,
like lattes, cappuccinos.

Now this isn't a bad thing.

If anything, it's
a sign of the fact that

this is what we do well as an industry.

Coffee and milk is, is
what we're great at.

But how do you promote balance
between acidity and sweetness

in a coffee that's
this clean and bright?

Well for starters, we
can let it cool down.

That's why we're in no
rush to drink these.

As they cool,
flavours will reveal themselves.

Secondly, we can space out
the flavours in the Descanso

by pulling a longer shot.

A perfect complement to that blackberry,

sugar cane and honey.

Stir it up guys and enjoy.

Our idea of what espresso is
changes to suit the drink

so for my signature beverage I
want to look at two dramatically

different approaches to what espresso is

and what espresso flavour is

We're gonna take that idea

of spacing out the flavours
in the Descanso,

and we're gonna push it to the extreme.

When you go that long with a Descanso,

some interesting things happen.

That blackberry acidity
gets a little bit milder

and the honey and
the sugar cane kind of mellow.

This is espresso as a canvas
and we need ingredients

that suit that canvas.

We have an extraction...
extraction of gesho and honey

and whereas we sweetened it
with some orange blossom honey

and this drink, it's mellow,
tea-like, aromatic.

So we want a cup that
suits those qualities.

With these bowls, the wide
mouth is great for taking in

the aromatics and the soft
ceramic is a complement

to the mellower flavours
and then take one sip

just to start getting
acquainted to the flavours.

All right. Here.

For the second part of
my signature beverage,

the exact opposite.

This is using espresso flavour
as an intense bulldozer

and we're really gonna embrace
that blackberry acidity

by pulling a shot similar
to the one that we used

for the cappuccino.

So I have pomegranate juice.

Now pomegranate's perfect
because the acidity

of a pomegranate is very
intense so it's gonna help us

emphasize that intensity of
a more concentrated shot.

Now I also have some sparkling water...

and I'm serving them in
these tall narrow glasses

to give the drink a focused intensity

to how the flavours hit the palate.

Now they're two distinct approaches

and they're two very
different approaches

but they're both the same coffee
and they're both still espresso

and that's the point.

It's the fact that anybody
who has an expansive view

of what great coffee is capable of,

they're probably right.

Thank you so much, guys,
and please enjoy.


Time. Charles Babinski,

G&B Coffee.
I'm coming, brother.


How's it going?

Hi. I almost want to give you

the mic and just let you

ask me questions or
something now, you know?

I'm really trying to stay clear of this.

I'm not gonna make as much of
the chattering noise as I have

the whole time because you
deserve the most respect

that any of us could possibly
offer you for your commitment.

You know, I was just sitting
there uh just baffled and, um,

but, you know, he was very composed.

Like it was almost like
uh he was in the back

and it reminded me of like
the Muppets where, you know,

the cook is throwing stuff in
the air and then he'd just...

he would show up and he's all
composed and serving everything.

He hit all the lines.

At the USBC in the finals I felt
like my finals performance

was my best performance.

It's gonna be my
great pleasure to announce

the United States champion
for the barista competition

but I gotta get them all up
here first and there's at least,

you know, there's only six.

Can I have all the people that
competed in the finals today

come on up, starting with
Charles Babinski, G&B Coffee.

Stand right there, brother.

Pete Licata, Parisi Coffee.
Kansas City, Missouri.

Trevor Corlett, MadCap Coffee,
Washington, D.C.

Charlie Habegger, Intelligentsia Coffee,

Chicago, Illinois.

Sam Lewontin, Everyman Espresso,
New York, New York

and Nick Purvis of The French Press

in Santa Barbara, California.

I think because I was so
sing-songy and over the top

that I lost some of my sharpness
with the technical things

that I needed to be on so
like my OCD clean, no drips,

wiping the drip tray,
locking in your portafilter.

I was a little bit looser than
I normally am even in real life

so that's definitely what I,
I lost points on there.

Whoops. I make one mistake
and, um, the one, the one mistake

wasn't anything that anyone would notice

is the problem with my one
mistake except I noticed.

I noticed what I did and it stumped me.

I stopped cold and I said to myself

and a little bit out loud, oh shit.

As soon as I turn off my steam wand, um,

the head of foam that I had
built immediately went from

being really, really tiny
bubbles to gigantic bubbles

to popping and I looked
down at my pitcher

and there was literally no
foam in my pitchers, um,

which is... which is detrimental,

ah and it was at that moment
that I realized I was done.

The foam popped.

There was zero foam on any of my cups.

So it was... and so the... hey guys.

One of my water pump tubes
on my distiller popped off

and started spraying
water all over stage, um,

so it was just this like... this fiasco.

It was awful sitting there watching it

and like watching this puddle
be built and like you so badly

just want to like go and nudge
the pitcher over but you can't.

It's all... I just go through,
I... I go through ups and downs.

Um I'll definitely compete again.

In life I think you need to hold
on tightly and let go lightly.

When it's appropriate you uh you
hold on with everything you can

and whenever it isn't, it isn't.

His name's Huckleberry
James Reddin after uh

the fantastic novel, "Huckleberry Finn".

I used to care about hot rods
and having fun

and world crazy travel like
dirt poor world travel,

like that was my jam.

Now I want to cuddle Huckleberry
and watch "Game of Thrones"

on Sunday night.

Like a typical Sunday night is that.

Gentlemen, it's been an honour.

Thank you very much for letting
me wag my tongue around

while you guys, you know,

perform at the level you perform at.

Well done.

Well, well done and I'm gonna
start right now with bringing

our sixth competitor, number six,

Charlie Habegger of
Intelligentsia Coffee.

I knew I was going over
time in the finals.

I knew right before I
started my final course

that I was gonna go over time.

Um I thought I went
a few seconds over time.

I went like twenty-three
seconds over time,

which is not a few
seconds and cost me...

it cost me a few places
in the overall ranking

after the finals.

Um and I knew it was happening
so but it wasn't an 'oh shit.'

It was simply, you know, oh it's
not a perfect run, you know?

It's not a perfect day.

Nick Purvis, The French Press.

In fourth place, Sam Lewontin
of Everyman Espresso.

In third place, Trevor Corlett,
MadCap Coffee.

All right ladies and gentlemen.

Ink that that's
probably tly how Charles is with it.

I think he just wants to win.
Again, I sort of have this...

just 'cause I've been really
obsessed with watching, uh,

with watching the Olympics
and watching especially

all the snowboarding
stuff in the Olympics.

There was this guy named ah
Sage Kotsenburg that, um,

for... for a really long time
his nickname for forever,

his whole life was second place
Sage or silver medal Sage

'cause like he hadn't won
ah like a U.S. Juniors

or a U.S. Nationals or anything.

He always came in second place,
like year after year after year

and then he won a gold
medal this year in Sochi

and I was just watching
this last night I think

on Conan O'Brien or something
where he was getting interviewed

and talking about like
how cool it was to like

kind of get the monkey off his back.

God. Geez. You know.

It's tough because

I was really nervous for not
only because Charles was there,

which was a huge part of it,
but also because, you know,

I'd kind of put a lot on the line.

I'd competed at the world,
I got second place and now

you feel the pressure of you
have to do as good or better

to really make it worth your
while and, uh, so it's like,

did I pull it off or did I not?

In second place for
the 2013 United States

Barista Championship,

it's my pleasure to announce
Charlie Babinski.

Charles Babinski of G&B Coffee
in second place.

The winner of the 2013 USPC,
for the second time,

Mr. Pete Licata of Parisi Coffee.

Allow me to shake your hand, sir.

I mean it was uh we were
obviously disappointed,

you know, that, you know, we, we...

more than anything it was just
getting, getting second again.

I was happy.

I think... I think Charles
was just, you know,

he had... he had heard that once before.

You know, I always tell him like
you don't really have to win

for people to know who you are.

Like people already respect him for,

for what he does and... and who he is.

Yeah and so, you know,
the possibilities are end...

endless for me in my opinion.

You always have that title.

You always are...

I will always be the 2013
World Barista Champion.

And make some noise

for the six finalists and the champion

of the 2013 United States
Barista Competition.

I was on a date once in Chicago
and I had been a barista

for four months and it
was our first date.

Um I picked her up on shift so
she met me at the coffee bar

uh like a week later or something.

We went down the street and, um,
we were at another coffee shop

and I was trying to explain to her

why I was so fascinated by coffee

and I didn't have the words to
do a very good job at this,

at the time because I didn't quite know

what I was trying to say and as
I'm sort of stumbling over this

she finally goes it's okay,
it's okay, it's okay. I get it.

And I said oh really?
You do?

And she said yeah, I get it.

She said, because you take
coffee and you look at coffee

closely enough and you
start to unpack it

and you start to realize how
much complexity there is

to the sheer fact that
this thing can even exist.

You realize that it goes
all over the world.

You realize that there
are all these people

that are involved in making it.

You realize that it's so
difficult to do it well

at every single stage and
she said you've done this

with coffee and so once
you've done that with coffee

you've just proven that you
could do that with anything else

in the world and... and doesn't
that make life interesting?

I missed that.

I missed that this year but in
no way would I trade it for, uh,

for being there for, for
my brand new little,

little soft burrito of a son.

I'm gonna ask that you take three sips.

It's my honour to announce

the southwest regional barista champion

from Los Angeles, California,

Mr. Charles Babinski.