I’m not sure if theres much more I can give to the already extensive chatter and excitement over James’ win. I always knew he was capable of claiming the title this year but as mentioned in previous posts was slightly doubtful after his first round and also from how the Herbazu was tasting right before it. It wasn’t offensive, it just wasn’t consistent.
It didn’t make sense to me as I clearly remember sitting with James a week before going through the green picking out any defects. I’m sure there are other factors that go to making a coffee inconsistent and its true too that it was one week old and perhaps, though I doubt it, it was a little fresh.
The following morning, we trudged back for James’ second practice time, only this time it would be for the finals. The previous night was a hectic rush around Toky’s Ginza district frantically looking for fresh cream, clean tablecloths, napkins, and rosemary, whilst still trying to grapple with the fact he got in. The piece of paper saying what we though to be cream but then found out said ice cream didn’t help our search, but as in now clear, we managed to find everything we need. (Much thanks must go to our hotels who lent us the napkins and the tablecloth.)
So as I said before, the shots on this day were sublime, both the Herbazu and the Gethumbwini. That Kenya is just ridiculous; no matter how off or on the shot is, it just screams blackberry. His latte art was solid as ever and the milk seemed to be performing well thank God. So it was around this time that I started to feel he could really grab it.
While I did express surprise that he got in, I think this was just because his signature drink didn’t work out as planned and he had to remake his second cappuccino shots. I forget how strong he is technically, how good his drinks can taste, particularly his capps, (who this year I think were his strongest drink, with the espresso a close second) and I think this year in particular, with the standards so high, the competition showed very clearly how as an onlooker its very difficult to guess the outcome. Its entirely in the cup, and that is where James always does very well. If he tells me a certain shot is beautiful, I feel very confident that I’ll respond the same way. As I look to nest year’s Irish Barista Competition and whether I’ll be able to enter or not, I think finding the tastiest coffees will be one my first tasks. The problem with that though, is that you preferably want fresh crop and so I’ll need to wait a bit before I can nail taht one down.
You know what happened next. I liked very much how James performance this year showed innovation on a less theatrical level to previous years; two single estates, two shots of each for the sig drink, a sig drink designed purely to taste wonderful as opposed to visually impressive, pouring his capps at the table and his general non scripted relaxed patter on stage. He had very tough competition and full credit must go to them for their incredibly polished and charming performances.
James now starts a big year in his life, not only because of the competition, but also as hes setting up a new company in London. The following months will be interesting.
To finish up, I am wishing very much that I was in LA for this;
but sadly I will be here at that time.
Seville is known as the frying pan of Spain, so expect pictures to emerge soon of a slightly red me. As annoying as it is to miss the opening party in LA, Seville is supposed to be on of the most beautiful cities n the world, and if you know me well, then you know where I’d rather be.