So there have been a lot of posts on this blog, Dave’s and Steve’s sites about Atlanta so I’m gonna keep this relatively short. I wont bore you with the minute details of our trip to Atlanta but I can assure you that even going to watch the WBC as a spectator is something I would advise any coffee lover to do. Next years competition is in London so if I don’t qualify I will be front row centre in the spectator stands, that’s a given. If you based in Ireland or the UK then I think its a must. London is gonna be a lot of fun for everyone.
This brings me to a question that a lot have people have asked me lately; Will you compete next year? Absolutely! I have learned so much, met so many great people and gained so many rewards from this years competition that I cant wait for next years IBC to come around. The standard will be even better again in the RDS next year and I would be foolish to underestimate the challenge that faces me and I will take nothing for granted. Hopefully both Dave and Steve wont be sick of the sight (or sound) of me by then and will be there to lend a hand.
Overall I was delighted to make the finals but as the days have moved on since and I’ve had time to look at my 1st round and finals appearance I cant help but feel that I left a lot of points up there. Its become painfully obvious to me that if it weren’t for some schoolboy errors I would have scored a lot higher. That’s not to say I would have “placed” higher, but my goal was to score over 600 and ultimately in these competitions you are competing against yourself. I have however learned from these mistakes and will be stronger for them next time around.
There are countless people I need to thank for helping me get to the stage in Atlanta so forgive me if I ‘ve left you out. Karl at Coffee Angel was both supportive and accomodating of my ridiculous requests for time off work and made sure that I didnt return home bankrupt. His knowledge, opinion and experience was vital at every step.
My family, as most of you know, followed me out to Atlanta to support me in a competition where people clap and cheer drinks. Their support has astounded and amazed me and I’m happy they seem somewhat proud of me. On a side note I must add that my brother not only accepted many a drink on my behalf from people who mistook him for me but he also spent a drunken night posing for photos with Steve and Dave. If I met you and insulted you that wasn’t me, I was in bed and my hair is shorter than that.
I must also thank the good people at the Irish branch of the SCAE for their help and support. Every year these people sacrifice a lot of time and money so that people like me can swan around making fancy cappuccionos and for this I am very grateful, thanks to all.
The good people at Octane Atlanta who helped pretty much every barista in the competition and were damn nice to boot. I have a new favourite coffee shop.
David Walsh and Steve Leighton were there at my side the whole way to the stage in Atlanta. I’ll save Dave the embarrassment but a photo I have shows him on his knees scrubbing my trolley before I loaded it up to go on. When I’d finished doing interviews and posing for photos I came backstage to find him and Steve cleaning my glassware and crockery. These are just two instances that go some way to showing how dedicated to the cause these two men were. I went to Atlanta hoping to meet some of my coffee heroes but realised I had two on my team, absolute legends the both of them.
Someone who was there at every step was my girlfriend Yvonne. When I freaked out a few nights before the IBC she drove into the inner city lockup with me to help me practise something she knew nothing about just because she understood it would calm me down. When I suggested putting an Aurelia in the spare bedroom to facilitate my training, she agreed. In Atlanta she decided she couldn’t help with the coffee side of things so she polished, cleaned, packed, collected, fed, watered and became the messenger for team Ireland and sought nothing in return. One day she asked me if I ever noticed a difference in steaming milks that were a day apart in freshness. As a result of this conversation Yvonne got up first thing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and went to Octane so that we’d have the freshest Milk available. Without her support this blog wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t be working in coffee and none of this would ever have happened. I’m a very lucky man.
This blog was started as a lead up to the IBC 2009 and happily was extended beyond that. I had though about maybe wrapping it up and starting a new one because it seemed like a natural end. Instead I’ve decided on a new set of goals for the coming year and this blog has served me well thus far so I’m not going to abandon it. I’m hoping to pretty-it-up a little but it will remain the same.
There are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline but I’ll keep them to myself for now. I will however aim to be as prolific as I once was in updating this blog so if nothings appearing feel free to shout abuse at me.
The last year was quite a journey, IBC 2010 here we come.