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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Java Enabled Previews the Midwest Regional Barista Competition

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 4:32 PM

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The Midwest region is relatively new to the barista-competition circuit. It's been in existence only since the early 2000s. When the organizers were able to generate enough interest, the Roasterie in Kansas City hosted the first competition. The last two years, Kaldi's has hosted the event at Soulard Preservation Hall.

The competition can be a good resource for baristas and roasters to try out new drinks, announce new roasts and get feedback from industry leaders. Kaldi's released its Espresso 700 blend at last year's competition. Some specialty drinks have made their way from the stage to the menus of local cafés.

Ferguson is hopeful that the competition will help stoke greater interest in specialty coffee in St. Louis. I've heard several times that Kansas City's coffee culture is more nuanced than St. Louis'. As a native St. Louisian, I find the thought of Kansas City having anything over us painful, but we might yet have something to learn from our sister city to the west.

I asked Ferguson if he was worried about bad weather keeping people away this year. "It couldn't be any worse than last year," he told me. "There were inches of snow on the ground." But I don't think weather will be an issue. What goes better with a drizzly cold day than a cup of coffee?

Zach Dyer is a writer living in Saint Louis. He did his thesis research on coffee farmers in Southern Mexico. Since then, he has visited coffee plantations in Costa Rica and Mexico as well as roasters and cafés across the U.S. He blogs about coffee every Wednesday.

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