Now that I am done judging, I can talk about my experience. Judging was great. Luckily the signature drinks I judged were all rather tasty: no salami, french fries, blue cheese, smoke, or squash in my drinks. In fact, two of the people I judges are in the finals today.
My note taking organization paid off. There can be a lot of information thrown at you. As a judge, you need to be courteous and give your full attention to the contestant when they are speaking to you, then rush to take notes on all the key things they said. Having specific key phrases or words to focus on helps filter out the filler chat.
As mentioned in my previous post, the taste components of the drinks are the most critical. So you may not be the most inspiring speaker and still score high. With that said, talking in depth about the coffees, where they are grown, why you chose them, and their tasting notes throughout the presentation shows you know your stuff, and that is ultimately the factor that ties everything together. Pace, organization of flow and confidence/ease during the presentation all make for a good performance.
Chris and Amber came down Friday evening, so during my free time, we hit some local coffee shops: Joes, Cafe Grumpy and Stumptown. What I love about all three of these cafes, and several others in NY, is that they define their drinks by cup size. Espresso and macchiato are in a 2-3 oz cup. Capps are in a 4-5 oz cup and lattes are in a 10 oz cup. When the cup size defines the drink, the ratio to espresso and milk is what changes, not the texture of the milk. I prefer the single shot macchiato or a double shot cortado (a name used by Joes for an 8 oz drink with 2 shots of espresso and steamed milk. Yum!) Don’t worry. We won’t change our drink sizes! It is just interesting to see other ways of approaching the topic. (Although, you may see an 8 oz. drink at some point in the future!)
Today, we plan on watching the finalists, hitting a few more cafes, and taking in some sights. In order to make it to New Hampshire, we have to get the 3:30 bus, so we will pack as much as we can between now and then.