Friday, February 19, 2010

ph: Drinking And Fire

A cornucopia of ingredients

It's another day at project hampden and time to start talking about so-called "signature drinks." In the world of barista competitions, signature drinks are a bit of a dark horse. Talk to many competition baristas and it's the one category they want to eliminate. It's a myopic viewpoint that wants to eliminate the most interesting category for the general public. Already thinking that someone should shove a shiv in your neck while watching a barista competition? Eliminate the one category that had the potential to be exciting and it's a living hell.

I think many baristas want to get rid of the signature drink not because they truly care about the "purity" of coffee, but rather because they're lazy and incompetent. Crafting a true signature drink means that one must plan, one must understand their craft, one must nurture an understanding of cuisine, one must actually do some work.

Instead, most baristas are content being shot monkeys simply standing there pulling shots of coffee with mise that consisted little more than pouring the beans out of the bag into the hopper and pulling the gallon jug of milk from the refrigerator: professional laziness.

Ilenia prepares french toast.

To my mind, signature drinks is a path towards capturing the minds of your audience (customers). While most of us like comfort foods like steak frites or mac 'n cheese, we're also captivated by creations that are a bit more exploratory. And even those who aren't quite adventurous are reassured because they at least know that they can "go wild" should they desire.

With than in mind, we spent the day preparing various components of the signature drinks we've developed over the years:

2004 - Haupia Macchiato
2005 - Spro Shake
2006 - Coffee and a Cigarette
2007 - Gin 'N Juice
2008 - Breakfast In Bed
2008 - "PBJ"
2009 - "LobSpro"
2010 - Oyster in the Half Shell

While Joy and Rebecca attempt to quelch the fire alarm, I keep on truckin'.

As we spritely march towards a new season of barista competitions, I will be stepping back from them and making way for a new generation of barista to take the stage. For the Mid-Atlantic Regionals, we'll be sending Lindsay to give a try at the competition and it's time to do some development.

Something we've been thinking of has been Pop Tarts. Is there a way to create a drink that suggests Heavily Toasted Pop Tarts? Maybe with some espresso or a marshmallow foam? Carmelized? Ah, who knows?

Lunch: Tuna Club on baguette with chips.

Meanwhile, as we're saute-ing lobster shells for a LobSpro component, the smoke sets off the fire alarm and a piercing shriek fills the room. As everyone is running around trying to blow the stuff out or simply run away, the mix still needs attention.

From there, it's some sandwich tests on our tuna club idea, a no-go test for poached egg baguette and an afternoon of watching the SouthEast Regional Barista Competition live video stream where we spy a judge who suspiciously looks like Kimmy, who's supposedly "away in New York City" this weekend...

Devlin, Lindsay and Jeremy check out the Hario V60 pour over.

Pop Tarts Consomme base.

Watching the SERBC live video stream.

Poached egg on baguette - meh.


true said...

How did Sarah's performance look via the stream yesterday?

onocoffee said...

Wish I could tell you more but I didn't watch too much of the stream and missed Sarah. I did see you, Allie and your other girl judging.