especially attentive blog-readers (e.g. “carping losers”) may recall that we accurately predicted hoffmann’s world barista crown — an entire year in advance! building on this stunning record of prognosticatory success, we’ll now daringly call this weekend’s southeast regional barista competition for … c-n-c’s shannon hudgens!
truth is, this blog’s on-again, off-again flirtation with this year’s SERBC is now decidedly “on” — thanks in no small part to a scant 45 minutes spent this afternoon in the mall. at shannon’s kiosk. pretending, as this blog has always dreamed, to be all four competition taste judges reincarnated in a single inscrutable body! with people milling about and customers pausing to stare, mr. c-n-c sped through his entire competition routine for this blog, which had hitherto been woefully and admittedly absent from the establishment.
here’s what’s so moving about this particular effort: the man has agonized for months over a startlingly simple signature beverage, burned through gallons of milk in a day to learn respectable latte art in a hurry, practiced his routine only — only — on a live, working bar during business hours, with customers haranguing him for drinks and only an e61 heat exchanger machine upon which to ply his craft. seriously. the nearest competition-style la marzocco for use is in atlanta, and well … he’s a burdened business owner. the cost to get custom-roasted, terroir single-origin, double-washed kenya something or other that squeezes blueberry all over your nasal passages? at least as much as you might pay for something comparable. no special deals. the cost to drive to the nether corner of the southeast region for a long shot at an increasingly elite competition? a near-unthinkable five days away from the shop, with his wife and one other female manning the register. the number of customers he’s wowed with talk of these newfangled espresso competitions? um, a lot.
having sipped all four spros and all four capps in the practice round, this blog may have been a bit wobbly on the perception side of things. still: the signature bev had us “ooohing.” it’s got “south carolina” stamped all over it in the form of a famous, indigenous, pungent soda. egg whites. cream. etc. nice, nice growth on the palate the more sips you take. a well-thought, no-nonsense speech routine. decent music.
word is, c-n-c’s other competitor is using beet-colored cream and multiple tea infusions.
annnnnnd, as you might imagine, this blog’s curmudgeonly, carefully hewed bloggy screed defending its decision not to go has melted away into the ether. and so. ten hours of one-way driving to clearwater, fla. — for an insider-geared event about which this blog has serious doubts — just might be in our immediate future. at night. with children in the back seat. zounds and curses.
UPDATE: it goes without saying, of course. what can barista competitions do for this man and aspiring competitors like him? answer: a lot more.