Hitting the Practice Mat for the Big Western at Visions Espresso

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We love hearing about companies opening their doors to baristas who want to hang out, practice, and learn. Visions Espresso in Seattle is one of those companies. For the second year, as the Northwest region’s barista competition and brewers cup approach, Visions opens their doors to baristas who want to come in and practice on a competition espresso machine. Just to be nice. Just to help out. It’s pretty awesome.

Sam Schroeder practicing at Visions.

Sam Schroeder of Olympia Coffee Roasting practicing at Visions.

“Visions Espresso invites all barista and brewers cup competitors to train in the competition space to help encourage professional development through competition,” says Visions’ Director of Education, Cole McBride, who organizes and executes the effort. Many baristas have said that they would like to compete but do not have the resources to do so. Last year we started letting competitors use the space, and this year we added to the space with a custom-built table built to competition standard. This year we have at least 11 competitors using the space.”

Sam B practicing at Visions.

Sam Brandvein of Caffe Ladro practicing at Visions.

The baristas are all preparing for the upcoming Big Western, which will host the Northwest Regional Barista Competition and the Northwest Regional Brewers Cup, as well as the Southwest Regional Barista Competition and the Southwest Brewers Cup. Baristas from Oregon, Washington, and Alaska qualify for the Northwest regionals. The Big Western takes place February 21–23 in Los Angeles. For all the details, go HERE.

Mike Cannon of Velton's Coffee Roasting practicing at Visions.

Mike Cannon of Velton’s Coffee Roasting practicing at Visions.

Cole says a lot of the baristas are combining their practice times and working together.

Cole says a lot of the baristas are combining their practice times and working together.

 

The practice space at Visions is totally tricked out to be an exact replica of the space the baristas will use on stage. It includes an Aurelia II T3 with customized water that matches what is used in competition, as well as a Mahlkönig K30, Mahlkönig K30 Twin, and an EK43.

Maxwell Mooney of Spotted Cow practicing at Visions.

Maxwell Mooney of Spotted Cow practicing at Visions.

Reigning Brewers Cup Champ Brandon Paul Weaver of Slate Coffee practicing ar Visions.

Reigning Brewers Cup Champ Brandon Paul Weaver of Slate Coffee practicing ar Visions.

 

Visions offers two-hour time slots for competitors, who sign up for one or two seasons per week. Cole says that while some of the baristas like their privacy, others work together and combine their time slots. “The Seattle coffee community has grown very close, and we all want to see each other succeed,” says Cole.

Corey A practicing at Visions.

Corey Autobee, competing independently, practicing at Visions.

Baristas who have used the space at Visions this year include Corey Autobee, Bronwen Serna, Riley Paterson, Brady MacDonald, Sam Schroeder, Christos Andrews, Sam Brandvein, Brandon Paul Weaver, Cole McBride, Mike Cannon, Maxwell Mooney, and Laila Ghambari.

Christos practicing at Visions.

Christos Andrews repping Neptune Coffee/Kuma Coffee practicing at Visions.

“We are very happy to help support the barista and competition community,” Cole says on behalf of Visions. “The goal was to have the best resources available to all baristas to be prepared. We hope that this will encourage all baristas who would like to compete to do so. “
Bronwen "BShizzle" Serna is back! The 2005 USBC Champ (and Barista Mag's first ever cover barista—is practicing at Visions.

Bronwen “BShizzle” Serna is back! The 2005 USBC Champ (and Barista Mag’s first ever cover barista—is practicing at Visions.

 

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.