Sunday, November 11, 2007

fun day!

Yesterday was so much fun!

I'll start by getting to the point: Brett didn't make the finals. Yeah, it's a bummer, but he's totally cool with that. What matters is that despite that, he felt really good about his performance yesterday -- as he should! He was really amazing! I was extremely proud of him.

However, Brett's co-worker Maki did make it to the finals! We're both really excited for her and hope she does really well! She goes on this morning, actually any minute now; Brett went downtown to watch her. I decided to stay home and take a break but I am going to go back for the awards announcement later this afternoon.

So many of our friends came to support him. It was fantastic to look back and see almost the entire section of chairs filled with people we know -- Zoka people, moped people, etc. The Mosquito Fleet really stepped up and probably about 15 of them rode down to watch Brett compete. That made both of us really happy.

I could tell Brett was nervous when he was setting up, even though he hadn't really been too anxious (more euphoric and excited) all morning. As he started the time clock (15 minutes) and began his monologue, I noticed that his hands were majorly shaking and that his delivery of his monologue wasn't as smooth as it was when he had practiced it at home.

But as hie picked up the pace and got into the rhythm of his routine, the monologue got better and more natural. He was funny, and genuine, and honest with the judges. He kept talking about how badly his hands were shaking -- at one point, he uttered a true Brett-ism: "Man, I'm shakin' like a Texas storm," which prompted tons of laughter from the crowd and even from a couple of the judges.

(Side note: Brett sometimes comes up with these Brett-ism sayings that make 100% sense to him, or if you know him well enough to interpret what he means, but if you don't know him, you might be a little confused. I think he'll now be known as Texas Storm among his co-workers and the Mosquito Fleet for a long time.)

He talked intelligently and genuinely about how he chose the espresso blend he used, and about the different things he was doing with the coffee.

He got a little flustered toward the end, while he was making his signature drink, and miscalculated a few things that wound up costing him later. We watched the video last night and both agree that the beginning of the signature drink prep is where things got off track, causing him to finish about 12 seconds over the time limit, which will result in one point per second being docked from his score.

(He should be able to look through his score sheets sometime today; we're both really interested to see where he gained/lost points.)

Still, overall, he felt really good about his performance, and is excited to possibly go on to the US Barista Championship in Minneapolis in the spring.

Yesterday evening, after the finalists were announced, we went out for dinner at Presse and then went to the Stumptown Coffee after-party, which wound up being a lot of fun. All of the Zoka people just hung out in a corner next to the coffee roasting machine all evening.

People came up to Brett throughout the night and told him how great he was and how much they loved his performance. They would all ask if he made the finals, and when he would tell them no, everyone seemed surprised and bummed. I know that made him feel really good! No matter what, he's definitely distinguished himself among the rest of the coffee world after yesterday.

And, here are the goods: photos of the event. I took these; they aren't great partly because my own hands were "shakin' like a Texas storm" the entire time he was performing. There should be more online this week; his co-worker Nikki took a ton of photos and so did a couple of Mosquito Fleet people. I'm sure they'll be better than mine.

Beginning his 15-minute setup period. Notice the poster version of Brett above him! (People noticed all weekend that he was the guy on the poster, especially since he wore his pink shoes to compete yesterday.)

Almost set up. The clock is at 9:37, so he had about 5 more minutes to check the grind on the coffee and pull some shots.

Making cappuccinos. The woman with the dark, short hair was the head judge.

Giving the cappuccinos to the judges. The four seated judges were the sensory judges; in addition to those four there was also the head judge as well as two technical judges who literally hovered right over Brett's shoulder, evaluating his technical precision.

Making espressos. He was still good on time at this point.

I thought this was a neat photo. You can see not only his reflection, but also the signature drink shot glasses, which he rimmed in 71% dark chocolate. (The drink also included espresso, a bit of milk, foam, and a zest of lime on top. As Brett says, it's "a simple variation on a basic macchiato." As I say? "It's yummy.")
Pulling shots for his signature drink. He had to take the tray out of the espresso machine to fit his glasses under the portafilters, since the glasses were so tall.
Ten seconds left...and he's zesting lime, the final touch on the drinks. We in the front row (me, Lindsey, who was his coach for this whole thing, and his co-workers Rosanna and Kim) were freaking out at this point.

Placing the last bit of lime zest.
After that, he grabbed the drinks and started placing them on the judges' table right at 15 minutes, thanked the judges, and called time at (if I remember correctly) 15:12.

It was among the most nerve-wracking and exciting 15 minutes and 12 seconds of my life, that's for sure. But it was really fun, and despite how hard the past six weeks have been with him working all the time and being really stressed out, I'm very happy that he did it and I'm 100% behind him working to go to the USBC in May.

Of course, that means a whole new routine, a new drink, a new place setting and everything -- but that's the fun part. He has the technique down pat and that is the most important thing. I know that if he does compete in May, he'll do even better than he did yesterday -- and that's saying something, because I think he did an amazing job.

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