Coffee Fest Seattle: Done and done!

What a weekend in Seattle, Washington, for the 2009 Coffee Fest! The weather was almost too beautiful: us exhibitors wondered if potential attendees would be lured to the lovely outdoors in and around Seattle, rather than the windowless trade show floor. But I guess the array of awesome products on display at Coffee Fest, plus a bevy of new and traditional barista competitions taking place all day every day, were enough to convince them that the Washington State Convention Center was the place to be from September 25–27. Plus, the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones can be pretty hard to resist.

Terry (left) from Doma in Coeur d'Alene, greets roaster and barista extraordinaire, Bronwen.

Terry (left) from Doma in Coeur d'Alene, greets roaster and barista extraordinaire, Bronwen.

Usually, Ken and I both go to every Coffee Fest to represent Barista Magazine, but since Ken is on his way to Let’s Talk Coffee and the Seed to Cup Challenge in Nicaragua, and we both only got back from the Nordic Barista Cup in Iceland a few days ago, I headed up to Seattle solo on Thursday to set up the booth. But I wasn’t alone for long: Jessica, who has done all the amazing art direction and design for Barista Magazine since our third issue back in 2005, would be joining me for the weekend in Seattle, as well as Leah, Barista Mag’s rockin’ advertising sales director.

One of hundreds of beautiful pours I was fortunate enough to judge this weekend at the Millrock Freepour Latta Art Competition.

One of hundreds of beautiful pours I was fortunate enough to judge this weekend at the Millrock Freepour Latta Art Competition.

Friday morning, bright and early—I’m talkin 8 a.m. here—I was at the Convention Center ready to assume my judging post at the Millrock Freepour Latte Competition. With 17 competitors today (and another 20 to come on Saturday), it was a long morning of judging, but thoroughly enjoyable and impressive to see. When noon rolled around and the trade show floor opened to the public, Jessica and I were ready to greet Barista Magazine subscribers new and old at the booth.

Jessica working at Barista Magazine's booth.

Jessica working at Barista Magazine's booth.

Besides the trade show, which was exciting and busy enough, there were not one, not two, not three, but four competitions happening in and around Coffee Fest Seattle. There was the Millrock Freepour Latte Art Competition, as I mentioned, which is presented by Barista Magazine, Nuova Simonelli and and Dillanos.

The lovely trophies at the Millrock Freepour Latte Art Competition.

The lovely trophies at the Millrock Freepour Latte Art Competition.

There was also the Aroma Challenge, presented by Espresso Parts. This challenge finds competitors doing their darndest to identify unique scents, which is a common exercise in training one’s sniffer for coffee cupping.

Bend and sniff, bend and sniff—protocol for the Aroma Challenge.

Bend and sniff, bend and sniff—protocol for the Aroma Challenge.

There was a brand-new competition called the Top Cup Challenge, presented by Pacific Foods, in which baristas were challenged to create original hot ad cold signature drinks using Pacific Foods’ soy product line, called the Barista Series. This competition was really fun, and had a large following.

Patrick Gabrish of Pacific Foods gets the crowd excited at the Pacific Foods Top Cup Challenge.

Patrick Gabrish of Pacific Foods gets the crowd excited at the Pacific Foods Top Cup Challenge.

And of course, there was the Northwest Regional Barista Competition, where 12 baristas from Oregon and Washington competed for the coveted title of Northwest Regional Barista Champion, which comes with an automatic pass to the semi-final round of the United States Barista Championship in April of 2010.

Announced at the end of the day on Saturday were the six finalists in the Northwest Regional Barista Competition: from left, Ian Shaugnessy of Olympia Coffee Roasters; Charlotte Deason of Coffeehouse Northwest; Billy Wilson of BARISTA; Sara Ziniewicz of BARISTA; Andrew Milstead of Urban Coffee Lounge; and Layla Ghambari of Urban Coffee Lounge.

Announced at the end of the day on Saturday were the six finalists in the Northwest Regional Barista Competition: from left, Ian Shaugnessy of Olympia Coffee Roasters; Charlotte Deason of Coffeehouse Northwest; Billy Wilson of BARISTA; Sara Ziniewicz of BARISTA; Andrew Milstead of Urban Coffee Lounge; and Layla Ghambari of Urban Coffee Lounge.

I promise to have more details about the weekend and all these fun events going on in the next issue of Barista Magazine, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the winners…

The final leader board at the Millrock Freepour Latte Art Competition.

The final leader board at the Millrock Freepour Latte Art Competition.

Your newest Northwest Regional Barista Champion, Billy Wilson.

Your newest Northwest Regional Barista Champion, Billy Wilson.

It was a super busy weekend! Very productive! Very, very hectic! So I’m a little tired. But I’ll be back with more news in the blog universe tomorrow, and look for posts from Ken about all the fun going on in Nicaragua in the next few days.

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.