It was an honor to again be involved with the absolutely awesome Barista Nation project, when it touched down in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday, November 4. The host was About the Coffee, the kind of place I wish existed in every coffee city: owned and operated by two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, Marty and Tooti Roe, About the Coffee is the go-to place for parts and supplies, and equipment large and small. But what makes it truly unique is the community Marty and Tooti foster within its walls. These two are hell-bent on giving baristas and coffee professionals far and wide a neutral, friendly, welcoming place to pursue their coffee curiosities. For example, they open their doors to any competing baristas to use their equipment for practice (no charge, of course). They offer taster bags of coffee from countless local roasters, as well as a rotating position for an unknown roaster they feel should be getting some attention. They host forums, gatherings, jams, and now, the first Barista Nation Kansas City. It wouldn’t have been half the awesome event that it was without Marty and Tooti standing behind it. So this is a big huge thank you from all of us, Marty and Tooti. You totally rock.
Barista Nation KC also featured esteemed speakers from around the coffee industry, including local heroes from such companies as Kaldi’s Coffee and Oddly Correct, as well as far-flung stars like Sauro Dall’Aglio, who taught technical classes. Yours truly gave a small speech on the importance of building community in your coffee region. But the Big Event was the keynote speech, delivered by the hometown boy who made good (really good), 2013 World Barista Champion Pete Licata.
Thanks not only to Marty and Tooti, but to the fantastic Anastasia Chovan and her Barista Nation team, and all the wonderful folks from Unic who stand behind this traveling source of free education. At this point, after Barista Nation has been going strong for more than two years, I can’t imagine the specialty-coffee industry without it.
We’ll have a story about Barista Nation Kansas City in the February+March issue of Barista Mag. As an apology for making you wait so long for it (deadlines, deadlines, deadlines), I wanted to share some photos and memories from this extraordinary event that was truly one of the best Barista Nations yet.
(And stay tuned for details on the upcoming 2014 Barista Nation events, coming to a city near you!)