Monday, April 17, 2006

Diamonds on the Inside

Bon voyage Mirage. You've been a great friend and solid work horse for over two years. Alas it is time for an upgrade. Not many machines are capable of filling your shoes on our counter, but we found one that will do you justice. A three group GB/5 straight off the showroom floor from the SCAA conference in Charlotte. Not just any GB/5 mind you, but the very machine used by Matt Riddle of Intelligentsia during his championship performance in the USBC (congrats Matt, and good luck in Switzerland!). Known for their outstanding craftsmanship, WBC sponsor La Marzocco went all out on this model and included all the bells and whistles that are sure to be the industry standard in the coming years. I've got to give ESI a shoutout for making this deal possible, allowing Kevin to walk away from the show in Charlotte with an extra 300lbs of luggage in tow.
After leaving Charlotte with Chris and the GB/5, Tomas and Kevin took a few days off in Ithaca to rest before climbing behind the wheel once again to show up on our doorstep in Brooklyn on Friday night.

We started up at 9pm by removing everything from the surface of our stainless steel countertops and unpacked our newest acquisition...

A couple hoses and 220 volts later, the group heads were ready for some bleeding...

Affectionately known as "Ben", our pride and joy has been on the bar for 3 days now, wowing us and our customers with his strength and versatility. On his maiden voyage, Ben helped us cruise to a record setting day of sales here at Gimme coffee in Brooklyn, and did it all without missing a beat. Thank you Kevin for the pleasure of this fantastic addition to our shop, and thank you La Marzocco for producing such a high quality new machine.

Editors Note: Chris just pointed out a link that I was missing...I'm including it here. Thanks Chris.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Finally home from SCAA (Part 2)

So, where was I? Day three. That's right.

My main reason for wanting to go to SCAA, other than to be a part of the Gimme! team, was community. I wanted to be a part of the community of baristas and other passionate coffee professionals out there. I feel a little isolated out here on the east coast. So, after I went to my first Coffee Fest, I realized I wanted to be a part of that pool passion and drive. Since I am not planning to move to the Pacific Northwest anytime soon, these shows are the only way. Well, the only way that isn't on-line. Anyway...

Day three was also the first round of the USBC. So, I took a break from booth set-up to go watch my friend Jeremy Summer compete.

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I know the picture is blurry. But, I like the pose and you can still see the chops.

Jeremy works at Hotwire Coffee & Roasting company in Shoreline, WA. with his friend Karl. Hotwire is where Dimsas Smith is hanging his hat these day. Those three make a great crew. I spent most of my "off" time hanging out with Jeremy and his crew. Oh, and by the way, Hotwire's master roaster is none other than Tim McCormack. Wow, some heavy talent over there. I can't wait to visit.

Day Four was my turn to take an educational seminar. Mine was "Total Quality Obsessed: How To Turn Your Shop Into A Coffee Mecca" hosted by Nick Cho of Murky Coffee and Alistair owner of The Elesian Room. I really enjoyed it. Although I felt it was just reinforcing what Gimme! is already doing.

After the seminar it was my turn to pull shots at the Gimme! booth. It ended up being a repeat of the night before, with coffee dignitaries wandering in from all over. I even ended up briefly on a Nick Cho podcast. I was a little caught off guard and nervous, so I'm kind of a jack ass on tape. Sorry Nick.

Day five was my day "off". So, it was my time to wander the floor. As far as the show floor is concerned I was most interested in the machines. Not, so much with what new flavor of vanilla someone is peddling. What better place to start than Paul Pratt's Just Java booth where he had his awesome original one group La Marzocco GS with the famed Paddle Group. Which he was nice enough to let me pull shots on!

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If you look close, in the bottom right, you can see the PID he installed.

The next logical stop for me was the La Marzocco booth to check out the production model GS3. I was able to play with the prototype at the Barista Guild party at Coffee Fest D.C.. They have made a few changes. Better buttons and things like that. But, the one thing I am most excited about is that soon there will be a paddle group version!!

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I wandered by the Dallis Coffee Roasters booth to visit my fellow NYC coffee warriors Ken Nye owner of Ninth Street Espresso and Espressocraft and his man Bob. Espressocraft makes some awesome tampers. You should get one.

Speaking of tampers, I also was fortunate enough to my Reg Barber. Then I ran into Tonx and Kyle from, well...I'm sure you already know that story. Man, there were people everywhere. Although, I must have just kept missing Mike Love from Coffee Labs Roaster Inc.. I did catch him briefly at the Roasters Guild party Monday night.

Monday night. I moved ahead a little bit.

Day five we pretty much just let Andy run the booth and watched the USBC finals. The competitors were all highly skilled to be sure. I will not name names but, my favorite didn't win and It didn't go to who I thought it would. It goes to show you, as the audience we don't know what the judges are looking for and we can't taste the drinks. But, props to them for having the skill and guts to compete at that level. Intense. After the awards ceremony it was time to break down the booth. Like magic, in the middle of hundreds of vendors, our pallet of empty boxes shows up first. We got it all boxed up and then let the forklift do the hard part. I think we were the first ones out of there.

Day six was the 11 hour drive home. Again, I took the wheel. I wanted to make sure our new machine made it home ok. What's that you say? New machine? That's right. Gimme! Brooklyn is getting a three group La Marzocco GB/5. Not just any GB/5. We took home the one Matt Riddle did his USBC winning performance on. Very cool.

Day seven...remember that five hour bus ride? Man it's good to be home.

Brief Interruption from SCAA ramblings

Yesterday, Paul Pratt paid us an unexpected visit. Paul is from Just Java Coffee Roasters in Hong Kong. He is also very well know for his beautiful restorations of vintage espresso machines. Most importantly, he is an all around nice guy.

Paul, thanks for taking time out of your all too brief lay-over in New York City to come and say hi.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Finally home from SCAA (Part 1)

Well I'm back.

My memory and writing skills will prevent me from doing any justice to my experience. Not to mention the fact that all the big news has already been posted elsewhere (and far better than I ever could anyway). So, I'll just talk about some of my personal highlights.

But first....

I would like to thank everyone who made the trip possible for me. Mike for letting me off the bar. Kathryn and Emmy for covering my shifts. The upstate Gimme! Coffee crew for putting it together and pulling it off. Andy for designing the Schecter-Matic Profile Pump and being on hand to explain it to everyone. And of course Kevin Cuddeback for having passion for coffee and love of the community to put us in show.

Day one started as most do, with me opening the store at 6:30AM. I work my normal work day then run to Port Authority Bus Terminal to catch a lovely 5 hour bus ride to Ithaca. That way I could hitch a ride with the Gimme! Caravan to Charlotte.

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Day two was me at the wheel for 11 hours while Kevin rode shot-gun and handed out the snacks and We arrived at The Blake Hotel and checked in. The room was on the 10th floor and had a kick ass view of downtown.

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Day three was booth set up. If I were smarter I would have taken pictures of the disaster that was the show floor. We actually set up the booth pretty fast. It took a while for the facilities to get things set up. You know, like water. Once things were a go, it seems that we were the only people in the house up and pulling shots of espresso. People came out from every corner. It as a little daunting for me to pull shots for a while. Some of those people were real heavyweights. You know, USBC contestants and Judges. People like that.

Stay tuned for part two......