NWRBC: Round 1 Day 1

Friday January 28, 2011 // By Kari Guddeck

Judge's LoungeThe first day of regional competitions is always fun.  New competitors and judges can barely contain their excitement and nervousness.  Being a ‘seasoned’ judge, it’s always good to remember those intense feelings and exactly how it felt being the newbie on the scene.  I still get a little adrenaline rush and a slight flutter of the nervous butterflies, but for the most part I’m able to disconnect and easily get into the competition mindset.  I judged six competitors today.  Some of them were new (including a self-taught home barista using Verve coffee), some were experienced, and all were a pleasure to judge.



So, what did I see and taste today?  Apples pushed through an Aeropress, hops (as in beer) in a vac pot, raw milk, egg yolks in custard,Hop smell chocolate ganache, high-acidity coffees, blue cheese powder, applewood smoked salt, blood orange reduction, yet to be categorized Hawaiian varietals…..and more!  This is why I love being a judge, and especially a sensory judge.  Each competitor is judged by one head judge, two tech judges, and four sensory judges.  The head judge watches everything (tech judges, sensory judges, the competitor, etc) and makes sure rules and regs/protocols are being followed to the ‘T’.  Technical judges are just that; in charge of judging all things tech (wiping portafilters, flushing steam wands, cleanliness, drips and spills, shot times, etc.).  Sensory judges are in charge of assessing taste of espresso, cappuccinos, and signature beverages as well as the whole sensory experience (customer service, coffee knowledge, passion, etc.).  I love being a sensory judge.  I get to taste some truly amazing coffee and evaluate some awesome, creative performances.  This is the stuff that keeps me in the game year after year…..well, that and the people.


Hop smileCoffee people are a creative, innovative, cool, talented, and independent bunch of folks.  Competitions are a great way to reconnect with people after a few months apart.  I always come awaArndt steamsy from competitions with new ideas and a renewed excitement in the industry.  Judging is hard work; it really is.  You are ‘in the zone’ and totally focused for hours.  Oh yeah, and there’s the caffeine.  Caffeine and crazy signature beverage ingredients can take a toll on your stomach and body in general (ibuprofen is definitely your friend!).  But, even with the exhaustion, it’s a thrilling experience.


Watch round two at 11am Pacific time at the USBC website.

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