It's so easy to participate in the USBC (that's United States Barista Championship) and find yourself losing sight of why you started participating to begin with - especially with all the B.S. that goes on. In spite of my continued support and participation, I'd been wondering why I even bothered with these competitions. They're not indicative or reflective of what we do or the level on which we perform on a daily basis. They're mostly fodder that no one pays attention to, and which the competitors themselves don't take their creations seriously enough to move beyond.
When I left for Tokyo, I was losing my interest in competing and had lost sight of why I participated anyway. Before the WBC (that's World Barista Championship) got started, we met up with a number of the national champion competitors who were also staying in our hotel. The kind staff at Macchinesti had agreed to open their doors to us, and we gathered whomever we could to spend an evening prepping for the competition.
Our group was led by John Sanders and Willy Hansen and included Salvador Benitez (Mexico), John Muli (Kenya), Francis Njovu (Zambia), as well as the passionate and always entertaining Nik Orosi (Croatia).
We spent that night working together and laughing together, which formed the basis for our friendship and the formation of our own little crew that went to events together and supported each other throughout the competition. It was through these honestly passionate baristas that I found my soul again and that reinvigorated my approach to the craft. It was these baristas, who worked so hard and believed in the competition and our friendship that I rediscovered the reason why we participate. It's not to win, but rather to share in the experience.
I thank our new friends for bringing me back to why we do this thing that we do.
And, with that in mind, I wanted to share this short video clip. Most of you will watch this and won't "get it" and that's okay - it's a great example of the camaraderie. Even though he doesn't say it in the clip, to a number of us, the words "Come on, Ladies" will always remind us of Nik and our time in Tokyo.