Calling you out….Eleven People I’d love to see compete

So. I decided that there were a lot of people in the Coffee Industry that I would love to see compete and woke this morning to discover that one has already hilariously thrown his hat into the ring. The rest I’m sure will follow suit in the coming days….

Tim Varney (Tim Wendelboe) See here. Cant wait.


1. Mark Prince (Coffee Geek)- Dave Walsh blazed a trail for “non-industry competitors” last year. Your move Mark. (he should be made use a single estate coffee)

2. Cosimo Libardo (Nuova Simonelli)- This year Nuova Simonelli will supply machines for the last time before the contract goes back out to tender (they may win it back of course) so who better to get the most from the machine. Cosimo is someone I greatly admire and anyone who knows him knows he’s a competitor. Game on.

3. Tim Styles (Tropical Saloon, Square Mile Coffee, Espressopants, The Meat Wagon)–  If you visited Penny University you’d understand what service was all about. Judging Tim would be as pleasurable as would be fascinating.

4. Mike White (Free Lance, NY tour guide to the stars, Shot Zombies) – Writes for the NY Times. Enough said.

5. Doug Zell (Intelligentsia)- Now that none of his baristas are competing this year its pretty much perfect timing for Mr. Zell to step up to the plate. Nobody has more resources at hand (two WBC champs on his pay roll for starters), I’m 1000% certain he’d do an amazing job. I’d pay to see it.

6. Vince Fedele (Extract Mojo)- We can’t even conceive what Vince would come up with. He would reinvent the whole thing and explain in 15mins what we’ve all been messing around with for the last ten years or so.

7. Kentaro Maruyama (Maruyma Coffee)- How much fun woud this be? Kentaro is one of the worlds most influential coffee cuppers/buyers/roasters. Huge knowledge, huge heart and an amazing coffee proffessional.

8. Ben Kaminsky (Ritual Coffee)- I love Ben. Ben says what he thinks. Ben would do a great job, finish on 10mins and spend the remaining 5mins talking the judges through their scores. Has to happen.

9. Aida Battle (Kilimanjaro, Mauritania etc. El Salvador) – As competitors begin to talk more and more about farms it makes an awful lot of sense for a farmer with Aida’s status and reputation to take to the stage

10. Steve Leighton (Hasbean)– As long as he opened with the lines “Hello Judges, and welcome to in my mug.”

11. Paul Stack (Marco)- He’s still using the line “I’m not really a coffee person”. In truth Stack is as creative, passionate and engaging as anyone in coffee. He also has a history in amateur theatre. No brainer….

Thoughts? Missed anyone?

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16 thoughts on “Calling you out….Eleven People I’d love to see compete

  1. James says:

    All of them. At once.

  2. Glenn Watson says:

    If that was the running order for Bogota 2011 I’d be there in the front row.
    What a lineup!

  3. Tim Varney says:

    “All the big ones… Prince, Libardo, Styles, White, Zell, Fedele, Maruyama, Kaminsky, Battle, Leighton, Stack…”

  4. colinharmon says:

    Yes!

  5. colinharmon says:

    It becames their passions.

  6. Mark Prince says:

    oooo I have some to say on this.

    First, a few names missing from the list: Vince Piccolo. I have seen many, many baristas practice their art and show their understanding of the espressso machine process over the years, and I still think to this day that Vince Piccolo is the best at the art and skill of the barista; I don’t know how he’d compete, but how many owners of roasters that size and bigger do you know of that still pull occasional shifts at their cafes? Vince does.

    Also, Sherri Johns. She is the person who really kinda made the USBC happen and had a big involvement in the WBC. I’d like to see her compete.

    Second, without taking anything away from David Walsh, there’s a long lost name in the pantheon of espresso competitions that I’d like to revive…

    Jeanette Chan.

    My ex was an entrant into the first ever Canadian Barista Championships. She had never worked in a cafe, never really pulled espresso shots on a regular basis before deciding to enter the competition. She is a piano teacher with not very much coffeegeek blood running through her. But she decided she’d like to compete in the inaugural Canadian championships, and so in 2003 she did. Her coffee was home roast I roasted. We roasted about 10 coffees on a Hottop (the first version) she cupped them and found tastes she liked, and I attempted to roast them to the same style in time for the comp.

    The field that year was 12 or 14 (I can’t recall) and Jeanette finished a very respectable tied for 7th/8th. IIRC, she was only 3 or 4 points out of making the final. She beat at least five industry professionals (for some reason I think there were 14 competitors, so that means she beat 7).

    AFAIK, she was the first non-industry professional to ever compete in a national competition.

    As for me? Well, I strongly believe that anyone who wants to judge a national or world barista championship should be able to perform the espresso / cappuccino round and meet a minimum score level (perhaps the 2, 2.5 range). I’ve done the first two rounds privately several times (and once in front of a small audience in the CG Lab, and I tanked bad lol).

    A few years ago, I would have competed in a kinda “masters” comp (masters is used instead of “old farts”). I dunno about today….

  7. Tim Styles says:

    It was seriously being considered for this year, now that I actually have one nation to call home (for now).

    Unfortunately, WBC weekend 2011, I will be in Australia attending a very important wedding, so that kind of rules me out.

    I’d love to see Zell vs Libardo, though.

  8. Paul Stack says:

    The 11 of us could compete for the inaugural Harmon Cup! …… And then form Barista United

  9. Ben Kaminsky says:

    Good company. Thanks friend.

  10. Mark Prince says:

    Okay, I would compete in the Harmon Gentle Giant of Coffee Cup. 🙂

    Also, I was very remiss in saying what Ben did – thanks for the inclusion – very good company indeed!

  11. Alex Redgate says:

    I would love to see Steve

    “I’m Steven Leighton and I know this because it’s on the top of your score sheets”

  12. Michael mc Laughlin says:

    If it’s a Harmon cup does that mean every has to try to come 4th to win top prize?

  13. Rasmus Helgebostad says:

    I think it just means he’ll compete himself and obviously finish 4th.

  14. colinharmon says:

    You’re all barred.

  15. Well Mr. Styles, I agree that me and Doug Zell would be really interesting to watch… don’t know about taste but, just a second, are we talking specialty coffee competition or coffee wrestling?
    Love you Doug ;-))

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