Opening the Competition Realm: Support and Community is Everything
As with the world in biking, there is never a set definition of training. Because every day, moment, or experience is all building the foundation for a greater self. So as the months loomed towards heading to Knoxville, the pinnacle skills required are organizing, time management, and confidence for goals. Being the first season for brewers competition creates a truly mystifying door painted in front of the self as opening it could lead anywhere. So what is important out of this experience? For being a barista at Corvus Coffee, it was important to hone in on consistent qualitative customer service for every order. Because every customer is just as much of a judge as the event officials are.
In the beginning months of December, the production team at Corvus began to help with learning how to use the Hukey, sample roaster with the guidance of Morgan, production manager. It was then the awareness expanded on how each minute variable creates so much drastic sensory effects in the final product, a light roasted bean ready for brewing delight. Countless beans were smelled, eaten, grinded, cupped, burnt, loved, and brewed for the sake of objective observation. Air flow, gas pressure, development time after first crack, and visualization are all continual variables always changing which is why every batch roasted is unique.
Seeking out support from the Denver community also played a key role in evolution. Kal from Amethyst lent the Roaster’s Companion Guide from Scott Roas. Jay, Corey and Chris from Little State Coffee and Middle Owl worked on compulsory techniques with the aeropress and overall presentation. Cherry Roast hosted a workshop for all competitors to practice and ask questions to eachother. Being supported means having vulnerability and an open mind. Corvus provided a platform to practice anytime and hugs were always free from every customer and team member.
While this was the first brewers competition, Coffee Masters was fresh on the mind in regards to how to pack. Because anyone with 60 pounds of coffee equipment and supplies needs a rolling bag and the possibility is real to carry competition coffee around at the airport. Things get lost, broken or misplaced while traveling so always bring what is needed plus one. And utilizing google to know where the closest grocery or art stores is vital. This was the second time to be competing and traveling alone from Corvus. It is never ideal as the whole weekend is extremely overwhelming meeting new friends, reciting presentation over and over, and dialing in coffee on a nervous palette. When the opportunity can present itself, always bring a support team.
The presentation was set to be on the same day at the March for Women on January 21st. Marching and uniting with dear sisters across the world is what waking up for means everyday. However Erica from Variety Coffee put it very well when interviewing her for the Cherry Roast Presents Podcast, “This is our profession and we need to make a stand for being women in a white male industry.” The hours leading up to presentation were blurred with prep dancing to Beyonce with mother in the hotel room, triple checking of everything needed and yet still forgetting vital supplies. On stage the personal intention was set to be shining white light of hope in honor of grandmother, mother and all the women known in life.
After blacking out for the entire length of presentation, knowing every line of the poem was recited and the chemex of the Las Lajas Red Honey was brewed within parameters, the rest of the day of relaxation and networking could finally be had. Going to any networking event, always bring business cards, a witty sense of humor, a cliff bar, and the willingness to meet and remember the names of many people. As a representation of the company and city, what should be remembered?
Moments before leaving the convention, after serving some brewed coffee to audience members, and knowing the plane would be departing in a little over an hour, a women stopped to talk about how much the presentation meant to her. She went on to say that her interest in coffee was sparked again and was thankful for confidence and courage to compete. Leaving from Knoxville, as the place (32/36) was not the most expected, there was the realization that the whole reason for that trip was to plant a seed for her and for others. And though the glory and glamour of being announced as top 12 was not in the fates and cards, another success and honor replaced it with the same caliber.
There will always be another hill to climb up through constant cadence and dedication. There are times when support and help from others is refreshing water given to refocus and rehydrate. And then there are the unexpected judges encountered in life whether behind the counter or in front of a crowd that sees what we are doing and creates instant change in direction. The next journey through the painted door is decorated with visions of IWCA, Seattle SCA, and fostering Denver community coffee growth with Corvus Coffee.
What does your door look like?