I'd like to offer belated congratulations and praise for the newly crowned United States Barista Champion, Mr. Mike Phillips of Intelligentsia. It's an honor to work with Mike.
Intelligentsia had four of the top five finishers, and this makes two straight years winning the top spot! Can you say domination?
I watched Mike's performance in Chicago, where he finished 5th in the regional. I was really impressed with the concept behind his signature drink, though I never got to try it. Mike made two different drink components based on two stages of his espresso inspiring textraction. As a trainer, I often break down a shot of espresso and have my students taste each stage. That is, I take, say 5 seconds worth of liquid then slide another set of shot glasses under the spouts to collect 5 seconds more, and on and on all the way to severely overextracted coffee. As soon as I heard that Mike was using this coffee-lover's tool to make his signature drink I was really blown away: what a great idea! And how simple! Amazing that no one had thought of it before.
Furthermore, if there is one coffee that is saw me through the last dragging month of winter, it's definitely the Anjilanaka from Bolivia. Ask the guys at Ost; ask anyone who has cupped with me at the lab; ask anyone who worked the booth with me in Chicago, over the last few weeks I can't stop talking about this coffee. It's so sweet, delicate-yet-rich, soft-yet-bright, and just generally lovely. Well... I must have impeccable taste (natch), because Mike used the same coffee as a single origin espresso to win the tournament. You can buy the best espresso in the United States here.
But of course, ideas and beans are nothing without execution, and it's such a tribute to Mike's dedication and talent that he was able to take the top prize. Doug Zell has an inspiring take on it on his blog. No American has ever won the World Championship. Well... it's just a few weeks away and this time it's on our home turf, in Atlanta, Georgia. If anyone can win top honors for U. S. and A., I think Mike might be the man! Go Mike!