So as the coffee grounds settled and the milk stains hardened I did the honourable thing and left the guys to look after my mess and headed off to Rome to unwind. Now that I’m back however, I must give credit where credit is due. Winning the competition was a huge thrill for me, but its definitely not something I could have done alone.
First of all I need to thank Karl, my boss and the owner of Coffee Angel. He was a constant source of information and inspiration and was always pushing me to go the extra yards when I thought I’d done enough. Any rumours that I became cranky or irritable when pushed are entirely unfounded.
While we’re on the subject of Coffee Angel I better mention Simon. Simon for those of you who don’t know works with me everyday down by the river. When I arrived at Coffee Angel I didn’t even know how to turn on a coffee machine so Simon pretty much bullied me into learning everything I know. He’s become something of an institution amongst the bankers and traders in the IFSC and they’ve all seen over the last ten months how he’s helped me on inch by inch.
As far as the coffee is concerned I owe Russell a huge debt of gratitude, as well as an actual debt in the more literal sense. Russell was so dedicated to the cause that even after I had received, blended and bagged my 4kgs of Competition blend he sent me down some extra roasts, just to be sure. The only complaint I had was that every coffee he sent me was incredible. Every time I ruled a coffee out it was like throwing another puppy in the river.
My family and friends were also a huge help to me, even if they did doubt my sanity from time to time. Perhaps the highlight of the competition was when my brother was holding my plaque for me and a guy from a well-known coffee firm shook his hand to congratulate him. Brilliant.
There were of course scores of people who helped in smaller, but hugely important ways. Anyone who was at the event would have noticed my custom built knockbox courtesy of my Uncle Eddie, top man. Someone who taught me an awful lot about deconstructing flavours and aromas was David Jackson of UCD/Diageo. I’ll post details of his next course when they arise but if you have any interest in food, drinks or foods you can drink, sign up to his course. The good people at pasmarose and zoxx as well as Scott at happydonkey were really obliging despite my need for constant reassurance. Much appreciated. Also to the customers at coffee angel who are a great bunch to make coffees for. They come down from the offices always full of banter to give us constant weather updates and cheer us up when its cold.
There are also many people who’s brains I’ve picked over the last few months and who’s opinions and insights have helped me immeasurably. The various coffee forumsare an invaluable source of information. Even if you only have a passing interest in coffee these boards are the place to go with queries or opinions. To all the Baristas, roasters and coffee folk who I’ve pestered with daft questions; a heartfelt thank you!
Another person I owe a huge debt of gratitude to is David Walsh of www.theotherblackstuff.ie, the editor, producer and Director of my Film of the year. Not only does he have an incredible understanding and knowledge of all things coffee, he’s also a stand up guy who’s become a good mate of mine in the last few months. He was a constant source of praise and criticism to me during my training, although I still think the texture was ok (a topic for another post!).
Finally,Yvonne my long-suffering girlfriend has put up with so much strife and made so many sacrifices that I cant even begin to quantify them. I spent 90% of the time convincing her that it would all be worth it in the end. the rest of the time she spent convincing me. Looks like we were both right.