Today, I came prepared, with my naked portafilter, a digital thermometer crippled from my Eric Svendson’s setup from home, and my Espro tamper.
While attention was focused on the latte art competition on the floor, I stole away to try my stint at the Rancilio Classe 6 unit at the door. A few points in summary:
My Rancilio naked portafilter locks in at 6 o clock
The Ditting-Mahlkoenig clumps to high heaven because of the lack of a doser to help in some unclumping. I had to use the digital thermometer to unclump the grounds in order to perfect my pour. I had spritzing in most my pours no thanks to the doserless grinder.
The Rancilio Classe 6 rapidly loses heat in the grouphead. I read initial temps of 205, and then it steadily decreases to a range between 165 and 175 degrees 20 seconds in. I’m sure past competitors would miss the PID’d temperature stability and machine build of previous SNBC sponsor who brought in La Marzocco. Even Nuova Simonelli had their WBC machines specially customized with a PID to ensure temperature stability.
The Spinelli roast worked very well with the Rancilios. I managed to test out one pour at the competition machine with the Boncafe roast, intended for the latte art comp, and it tasted inferior to the Spinelli roast. I would think Ross had tailored the roasts to suit his machines. Despite the temperature instability and the clumping, Spinelli pours from the Rancilio were all within a good degree of tolerance in body, flavour and acidity. Point in note, if all else fails in this year’s SNBC, be sure to use Spinelli roast. I’m sure it’ll taste quite fine to please the judges’ palates.
During the break before the awards ceremony of SNBC 2009, there was a friendly competition between Eleen Cai (SNBC 2007 Champion) and John Ting (SNBC 2008 Champion). It was a competition to make as many cappas as you can in 10 minutes. The highlight of the event was uh, someone volunteered me to be the 8th guest judge. All guest judges were chosen from the audience. The WBC judges took turns mucking up Ting’s grind and dosing. It was quite understandable he fell 2 drinks short from Eleen. Eleen finished with 12 while John made 10 cappas. The MC asked for my opinion on Eleen’s to which I replied, “What I’m looking for is the taste of the coffee cutting into the milk. Eleen’s cappa didn’t do that, because all you taste is milk.” When I tasted John’s, he was the clear winner.
Lo and Behold! Guess what cropped up next? It was a competition between Bosses and Students’ Cappa Contest. The Bosses were Justin Metcalf and Ross Bright. Both Bright and Metcalf ARE CERTIFIED WBC JUDGES. The students were Ting and Cai. I was called back to be the judge and I made sure I sat at the bosses’ table. Whoa! Getting served cappas by Bright AND Metcalf and then judging them will most likely be THE highlight in my career in coffee. I noted the lack of latte art in Metcalf’s drinks, to which he promptly replied that they were’nt being tested on the art. But he did make several triple rosettas later on. Here are some pictures that speak for themselves.
Justin Metcalf pouring latte art while …
Ross Bright foams the milk.
The two WBC judges pour a few rosettas with love
After 10 minutes, both teams had made 30 cappas. The tiebreaker was latte art. And I was the latte art judge. (I am having so much fun!) I gave one point in difficulty for the Bosses and one point in artistry for the students. The Bosses won. We’ll give it to them this year.
I hope this sets the bar for future SNBC’s to come.