Conference Topics

not too near coffee discussion, or dated posts

Conference Topics

Postby onocoffee on Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:04 pm

Okay, here's a question for the Coffeed Cognoscenti...

Say you were going to a Conference that was focused and dedicated to the Barista Arts, what kinds of topics would you like to learn about? What issues would you want to discuss? What skills and crafts relating to Barista-dom would you like to learn and hone?

Thoughts?
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Postby nick on Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:18 pm

Yeah. Too bad there isn't such a conference yet.

:twisted:
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Re: Conference Topics

Postby Robert Goble on Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:23 pm

onocoffee wrote: ...Barista-dom ...


Dominance and Submission in Barista Culture....? tell us more about this Jay. ;)
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Re: Conference Topics

Postby Matt Riddle on Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:33 am

Robert Goble wrote:Dominance and Submission in Barista Culture....? tell us more about this Jay. ;)


Two Baristas Enter. One Barista Leaves.
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Postby Jim Saborio on Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:57 am

Assuming this was for the cognoscenti? Don't you guys all know this stuff already?

Changes in cup character caused by:

different filter basket shapes / sizes
different roast profiles
different pumps / pressure profiling
flat vs. variable brew temps

that's a start...
-JIm

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Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:28 am

JIm wrote:Assuming this was for the cognoscenti? Don't you guys all know this stuff already?

:lol:

JIm wrote:Changes in cup character caused by:
different filter basket shapes / sizes
different roast profiles
different pumps / pressure profiling
flat vs. variable brew temps

Good tact.

Anything that actually addressed skills and techniques would be fun. Especially if we could leave the politics at the door.
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Postby dwelltimester on Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:05 pm

Espresso art. I could never get the marble effect to make any discernable pattern!

Ok, kidding. But seriously, how bout cupping espresso using different doses (get out the scale), grind sizes and temperatures. A lot of top tier shops take this for granted (especially those who offer guest espressos and have to use a totally different methodology for different coffees), and certainly roasters will be familiar, but nonetheless a useful skill for a barista to possess. How to hit that 'sweet spot' in the espresso where it all just gels. It's also useful to anyone who's struggled with a new blend or roaster and they need some on-the-spot skills to figure the espresso out. Maybe this seems rookie to some people, or maybe it's past the scope of the conference, but I think a lot of baristas might benefit.
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Postby Marshall on Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:56 pm

A suggestion on structure: run separate tracks. One for beginners and people who need to unlearn bad habits and the other for the kinds of people to frequent this Forum, BGA, etc. This will minimize the number of people who are bored or intimidated.

Title them artfully, so no one who needs the first track is too embarassed to use it.

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Postby nick on Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:25 pm

One more criteria (thanks Marshall... and, um... sorry Marshall :?)

No beginners. No beginning. No new wannabe baristas. No aspiring retailers.

Intermediate... Advanced. Actually, mostly advanced. 8)


Carry on.



8)
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Postby Matthew Brinski on Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:13 pm

nick wrote:One more criteria (thanks Marshall... and, um... sorry Marshall :?)

No beginners. No beginning. No new wannabe baristas. No aspiring retailers.

Intermediate... Advanced. Actually, mostly advanced. 8)


Carry on.



8)


Yeah, 'cause no aspiring retailer would have any idea what's up...
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Postby Jim Saborio on Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:03 am

Last Year's Great Lakes Regional Jam, which was attended by beginners beginning, new wannabe baristas, aspiring retailers, as well as the mostly advanced; split up machine time with lectures.

Geoff Watts recycled a "What Goes on at Origin" lecture from a SCAA course he led. It was brilliant, it was Geoff Watts, and it was the kind of "bigger picture" focus that's hard to get behind the bar.

The Intelligentsia service guru did a lecture on basic machine maintenance which was also great. I think a more detailed look at how various machines work and how to better tweak / cheat them would be great.

How about a roasting demo that involved a bit more than... look at the green beans! Watch them turn yellow! Roast beans roast! Time to cool them!



...Oh and maybe a few volunteers could get together to shuffle through applications to this event to make sure the "un-cool" didn't slip in.

Maybe interested parties could submit video portfolios of what great, accomplished baristas they were...

oh, nevermind.
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Postby nick on Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:54 am

MattB wrote:Yeah, 'cause no aspiring retailer would have any idea what's up...

Depends. There's a difference between, "Hey, I'm (umm... let's make up a name) Dan Griffin, and I've been working at the Albina Press for a while and now I'm moving to the east coast and gonna be working on getting a shop open." and "Hey. Just quit my job for T-Mobile... thought I'd open a coffee-shop. It's not too hard, right? Can I come and learn how to make coffee?"

Roasters Guild has their retreat. You don't learn roasting basics... you learn how to be a better roaster. Right now, there's really no such event for baristas.

JIm wrote:...Oh and maybe a few volunteers could get together to shuffle through applications to this event to make sure the "un-cool" didn't slip in.

Maybe interested parties could submit video portfolios of what great, accomplished baristas they were...

Hey man... I'm as "un-cool" as they come. "Un-cool" is the new "cool." Didn't you get the memo?

It's not about "great, accomplished." It's about whether a particular event is right for you... not you for it.
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Postby Tim Dominick on Fri Oct 13, 2006 9:31 am

For the record, there are some beginner/rookie roasters at the RG retreat. It is a pretty big tent, perhaps too big for some people's taste. A number green brokers with little or no roasting knowledge, perhaps their QC guy let them pull a batch or two on a sample roaster but many of them have no practical production roasting under their belts and they are literally afraid to touch the machine on the first day. (In the interest of not pissing people off, there are some green brokers who alot about roasting.) By the end the new guys are willing to jump in and roast, and indeed they have quite a bit of insight and perspective to offer as they develop the skills to use a production machine.

At the risk of angering the cognoscenti, there is so much to be said about learning by teaching. There is also much to be said for sharing your experiences with people who are joining the trade, hmmm, weren't we all new once or was everyone here born with a silver cupping spoon in their mouths?

The best learning experiences at the RG retreat come around the campfire, at the bar and over dinner talking to people with a full spectrum of coffee related experience, not in front of a roaster pounding your chest. I can only suggest: Avoid creating the illusion of exclusion, otherwise this yacht will sink before it sails.
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Postby nick on Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:08 am

Duly noted Tim. However, "exclusion" in this case isn't about being exclusive... it's practicality: there's only so much room.

Some good stuff to consider from folks. Thanks.

Stay tuned. :D
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Postby Marshall on Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:50 am

Nick, your responses suggest Ken Fox may have been on to something when he complained about the barista competitions not having much impact around the country in ordinary coffee shops. I urge you to re-think the velvet rope approach to your convention and consider a beginner track.

And you also might want to reconsider how you promote the event. Describing it as a drunken binge on the website won't go over real well with a jury. Host liability ain't no joke. Got your insurance?

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Postby nick on Fri Oct 13, 2006 12:39 pm

Marshall, you think like a lawyer. :wink: That said, also duly noted.

Yes, we have insurance.


Beginners have many, many opportunities to learn: at SCAA Conference, at CoffeeFest, and at barista Jams all over the country and around the world. There is yet no event or educational/enrichment activity where the sort of folks who are called on to teach, train, and volunteer at those functions are the ones who are "fed."

Beginners who aren't the right fit for an event like this shouldn't complain: this is for the benefit of those who DO teach the beginners.

Church pastors need a place and time to go where they don't have to "be pastors;" where they get to be themselves and with each other; there for their own nourishment... it helps them be better pastors. (no pedophilia jokes please)

It's a retreat.

That said, unless you already found the link, it's here.

The venue called today, and electrical works out.


Welcome to the Jungle.
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Postby trish on Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:11 pm

Nick,
have the topics sort of follow in line with Portafilter.net.
Go back to your podcasts and get a clue from those.
- a panel of characters who will tell us what they're thinking about today, which elvolves into a roundtable
- comparative cupping
- some kind of global perspective reality check - like meeting the 20somethings from Nicaragua who cup at the coops

...and Robocop should be the keynote speaker
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Postby Mark Prince on Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:18 pm

.... grinders..... grinders.....

A whole new set of paradigms and definitions need to be discussed, agreed upon, and set. The Barista Standard for Grinder Excellence.

Then the savvy manufacturer / inventor will stand up and start actually taking grinders out of the 1960s and bring them into the 21rst century.

Mark, who thinks the ideal grinder in 40 years will be a CNC / Laser cutter capable of precicely cutting grinds to specificly programmed micron shapes and sizes (with user-controlled variables in those sizes) - 20 grams per second. ;)
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Postby tonx on Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:36 pm

lasers shmazers... the future is hot water grinding - simultaneously grinds and brews the beans - right into your mouth.
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Postby Jim Saborio on Fri Oct 13, 2006 4:03 pm

holy shit... it's like Vatican II for baristas.

(that's probably not funny for most of you)
-JIm

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Postby dwelltimester on Fri Oct 13, 2006 4:05 pm

nah man, in the future coffee will come pre-ground... no grinder necessary, no over-heating, no problem! :wink:
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Postby Jim Saborio on Fri Oct 13, 2006 7:27 pm

Well... I have to admit that I'm now working on my video, but my dance routine could use a little polish.

Remember this thread?

http://forum.coffeed.com/viewtopic.php? ... highlight=

I was always under the impression that its findings were BS. I'd like to see the freezing debate professionally investigated.
-JIm

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Postby onocoffee on Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:29 pm

Thanks everyone for your continuing input on this topic. It is greatly appreciated.

I've just returned from Cherry Hill, New Jersey and the East Coast Barista Jam hosted by Crescent Moon Coffee and Coffee Labs. It was a fun experience and I had the opportunity to lead the espresso-making section of the Jam along with MARBC Champion David George and Michele Granitz of Max Crema's.

Overall, the Jam was a good time with lots of great people in attendance - a number of which were very new beginners and others with varying levels of experience. One thing that the Jam re-framed in my mind was that beginning or without experience baristas really need serious time and attention to develop their basic skills.

Because of the group nature of the Jam, it's almost impossible to properly instruct the individual attendees and develop their skills. Six people around a machine for an hour or two is just not enough time. Because of this, I've come away thinking that PF2007 needs to focus on attendees who already have a strong grasp of the basic concepts and skills in our craft.

Also in attendance at the Jam were Chris Deferio and Chris Owens from Gimme! Coffee at a support station. Having these two experienced baristas only added to the presentation. For example, as I was lecturing/discussing certain aspects of the process both Deferio and White were able to add to the discussion and offer insight and perspective that I was not aware of or had simply forgotten to mention. There's a powerful energy having people of various knowledge come together and conduct an open discussion on a topic that enriches everyone.

This was very apparent (of course) in the after-hour discussions where everyone, like Stephen Vick and Philip Search were there to add to the discussion with their own areas of expertise. In short, it's incredible and inspiring.

For PF2007 we want to develop an event that can harness the positive aspects of both the traditional conference style lecture and the after-hours passionate discussion that encompasses everything from grinder philosophy to kicking the ass of shitty coffees.

It's not about whether someone is cool or uncool but rather about developing an event where everyone can contribute and benefit - without having the steep learning curve of learning how to grind, dose, distribute, level and pull a shot of espresso still in front of them.

Is this an event for the "cognoscenti"? Perhaps. But even the best baristas I've met and know personally always seem to be seeking out new knowledge and expanding their repertoire. This is the group of baristas we want to develop this event for.

Is this about "exclusion"? I would hope not. I would hope our group of coffee cognoscenti aren't the types who are lured by the snobbery and elitism that can raise it's head when trying to be above others. But while there's opportunity for newbies to receive exposure to the material in the form of regional BGA-sanctioned and independent barista jams, as well as SCAA Conference sessions, SCAA Espresso Labs and individual and group instruction from a host of schools, consultants and local coffee shops, there is not currently a venue for the "Third Wave" barista to indulge in continuing education.

The level of discussion and instruction we seek for PF2007 will be high. Beyond the "here's how to grind, dose, tamp and pull", we're talking about serious discussions about the topics we gravitate towards. Perhaps really getting into the science of milk, perhaps the nuances of grind and whisking with The Clover, or as Nick B. noted, the differences of grind and temperature on individual espressos.

Really, the scope of PF2007 is incredibly open at the moment and we're gearing the event towards this "higher" level of craft mastery.

Marshall - Mr. Fox may have been on to something other than bemoaning the lack of quality espresso shops in his area but PF2007 isn't closed off to anyone. It's wide open. However, it's not an event where someone comes to learn how to tamp but rather an event where the nuances of tamping can be discussed, dissected, examined and improved upon.

That said, please keep the ideas and suggestions coming!
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Postby Rich Westerfield on Sat Oct 14, 2006 9:30 pm

As a non-mechanically-inclined sort, I'd like to actually see some of the better (e.g. practical & cost-effective) mods that some of y'all have done:
- what it does
- why you chose to make the mod
- how it works
- what's been the payoff
- how difficult to do/detailed info on installation/costs/technical ability needed

I guess sort of like short case studies... although I used to sleep through those when I went to marketing seminars.

Maybe a shootout for best mod?
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Postby Ryan Mason on Tue Oct 17, 2006 1:52 pm

JIm wrote:Assuming this was for the cognoscenti? Don't you guys all know this stuff already?

Changes in cup character caused by:

different filter basket shapes / sizes
different roast profiles
different pumps / pressure profiling
flat vs. variable brew temps

that's a start...


I'm with Jim on this one. He has some great ideas that I've wanted to explore, but lack the 'spro lab' to hone the techniques.
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