These days, he's focused on one thing: the Northwest Regional Barista Championship, which is being held here in Seattle next weekend, and in which he will be a competitor.
It's a big deal, partly because his company is sponsoring the competition, and partly because he is just the kind of person who really wants to succeed -- to excel, really -- when he sets out to do something.
I've had a lot of people ask me what the competition entails. Does he have to make drinks quickly? Does he have to make the best drink he can? Does it have to be pretty? Yes, yes, and yes. The whole competition is quite intense. He will have 15 minutes to make a set of four judges three drinks each: a cappuccino, an espresso, and a signature drink, which must be invented by the barista.
He'll be judged on speed, taste, beverage presentation, station cleanliness, technical skills, and overall presentation. If he does well, he could be selected as one of six finalists, and asked to come back for a second round on Sunday. If he were to win on Sunday, he would go to the National Barista Competition, which will be held in Minneapolis in May.
There is clearly a lot for him to think about. Naturally, as the day gets closer and closer (he competes one week from today, next Saturday), the feel of things around here is getting more and more frenetic. Many of our conversations revolve around a few things these days:
- The place settings he'll use, and every nuance you can think of regarding them -- green cups, black saucers? Black cups, green saucers? These cups? Those plates? Black runner and green tablecloth? Green runner and black tablecloth? What kind of pitchers? What kind of water cups for the judges?
- The supplies he'll need for the place settings and where to buy them
- Milk steaming
- The monologue he'll have to say while he makes the drinks
- What he'll wear
- The blend of espresso he'll use
- How his signature drink will be assembled (and all the associated minutiae regarding the signature drink -- it's similar to the minutiae associated with the place settings)
As much as I know Brett is excited for the competition, he's also nervous. He's been training and practicing to a near-insane degree, which is all done on top of his regular job. On his most recent time card, he had worked (regular hours + training hours) 120 hours during the two-week time period. It will make for a nice paycheck, sure, but I know he's exhausted and almost to the burned-out point, so it's a really good thing that there is only one week to go until the whole thing is over and he can finally relax. I know we are both looking forward to that.
If you're in Seattle, you should come out and support him on Saturday! The event is free and open to the public. The competition on Saturday runs from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Drop me a line or give me a call if you're interested in going. I think there is going to be a decent-sized group there to cheer Brett on. I'm not sure yet what time he'll be competing; I should know more this week.
If you're not in Seattle, send some good-luck thoughts and prayers his way next Saturday. I'm sure he'll appreciate them!