Monday, April 18, 2005

australian crack

the reason i've hit ground this morning back in nyc, shivering, trembling, hollow-eyed, isn't because of too much espresso or the realization i've probably had only 4 hours sleep total over the last three days during scaa conference in seattle. no siree.

it's because the otherwise harmless looking aussie barista judge and c-member paul haddon introduced me to what is clearly australian crack: the dark chocolate tim-tam. what you do with these kit-kat-like bars is nibble off the opposite diagonal corners, stick the exposed honey-combed wafer cookie into your favorite coffee, and suck the coffee up through the thing, which then fills up with this incredible melting mixture of dark chocolate, coffee, caramel cookie, and chocolate frosting filling.

then you pop the whole yummy mass into your mouth. and you're basically just a step away from selling your grandma for more. . .or forgetting you're actually supposed to write about the conference.

you know going into conference that you just aren't going to have time to eat or sleep. period.

the days just melt together, flow, and become confused, like that chocolate tim-tam. . .

but still when it happens to you, you suddenly remember: oh, yeah, this is what it feels like not eating or sleeping, because it seems you are running from supreme yogini dr. jane goodall's mind-blowing keynote over to a fantastic discussion on coffee and philanthropy to quizzing paul songer on the chemistry of robusta after his descriptive cupping presentation, then on to tasting coffees to actually experience the flavor effects of processing with ken davids, gawking at the incredible, must-have new tamper and tamp stand offered by long-time bccy pal kenny nye of 9th st. espresso on the show floor before scaa board member ric rhinehart and roaster chuck jones sweeps you and everyone you know into cabs to go to a party at other long-time bccy pal john hornall's famed hines public market coffee for some effing amazing espresso.

the next thing you realize you are standing in the chilly seattle drizzle surrounded by what seems like the entire australian specialty coffee association -- including former barista champion dreamboat paul bassett -- they really have a superior coffee culture down there, we have to figure out how they do that -- among a gorgeous collection of gleaming antique espresso machines when suddenly out from behind a vintage la marzocco, thru the gloom, appears paul "the pusher" haddon, purveyor of the devilish cookies. . .

and you remember that in there somewhere you also had a long heart-to-roaster talk with possibly the hippest bloggin' fire-playa in seattle, tonx of victrola, a pizza party with the alties, the 5-course altie tasting dinner at brasa with matched wines and foie gras, a discussion of ethopian coffee farming with tadesse meskela of the oromia co-op and willem boot while drinking an unusual and intriguing bing-cherry flavored djimma. . .

and that you actually got to also meet andrew ford of mountain top, an australian coffee grower whose dry-process bean was medium-bright, lovingly blueberry, and had just a hint of walnut-skin bitterness. . .only to turn around and get a quick hug from another former barista champ, tim wendleboe.

then at the official c-member reception, you wildly tossed bags of coffee about the room to be door prizes before collapsing onto a plane. no sleep there: the navy guy on the seat next you snores quite loudly the entire trip back. . .

some photos here! thanks, owen: i never realized how great my pitching form really was. what a not flattering picture. . .

next year, charlotte! right now, sleep!

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