Making the transition from barista to wholesale rep was not an easy one for me.

In a cafe setting, especially working for Intelligentsia, you are given the instruction to uphold the highest quality, whatever the cost. It really is remarkable to work for a company where, if you have an idea or find product that will improve quality and raise standards, all you have to do is present it and prove that it makes sense and chances are it will be implemented. It was like going to work everyday in a lab where you just question everything you do for the sake of finding a better way. It was great.

Wholesale is different. In the wholesale world I am charged with the responsibility to find customers who will uphold as high a standard as we do and invest the time and resources it takes to represent the coffee I’m selling in a similar way that we do in our cafes. I wish I could say that every wholesale account we have does as good a job as we do, but we don’t live in a perfect world. And to find people who care about your product as much as you do is nearly impossible. I say nearly because every now and again, you find people that are consumed by coffee, that understand what we do and why and consider it a great responsibility, not to us, but to the producers. Those are dream accounts. But, for a large number of the wholesale accounts I’ve been too, there seems to be this disconnect in either the knowledge, training, equipment or dedication it takes to make great espresso and brewed coffee. Whether it be lack of perspective, distrust, bad habits or they just don’t care, there is a lot of room for improvement in the wholesale world. It can be frustrating and sometimes infuriating, but I always learn something new from these accounts.   

Anyone who’s read my blog knows, writing is not my calling. However, I’ll do my best to cover and explore some of the problems I listed above: Perspective, Distrust, Bad Habits and Lack of Passion. 

If anyone has any other topic ideas or specific questions you want answered, bring it on. I’ll do my best to answer all questions as thoroughly as I can. And please, be patient. With a wife, daughter, work and a newly adopted dog, these post could be spread out quite a bit!

Peace Out,

Nick

BTW – Congratulations to Gwilym Davies, our new world barista champ.

And a huge congratulations to Mike Philips, who came in 3rd in the world. 

Coverage for the event was pretty disappointing. With the live feed going in and out and nothing other than barista profiles, the event was actually fairly boring. Which is a shame because the coverage for the WRBC and the USBC seemed to be getting progressively better. I think someone should be in charge of media coverage for the event. There should be more videos, better blog content and more people involved to ensure better coverage and content.

I’ve decided to start posting in regards to coffee on a wholesale level.

I’ve avoided this for quite sometime, but I think it might be interesting to some people to hear what a wholesale representative, for arguably the best coffee roaster in the states, might think about the do’s and don’ts of setting up a retail coffee operation.

More to folloow…

Seems like every post starts with, “It’s been a long time since my last post”.  And it has.

I’ve been to Colombia, won the WRBC and just placed 2nd at the USBC, behind my friend and co-worker Mike Phillips. It’s far too much to blog about and I dont have pictures to share, but there are several floating around the net… somewhere.

What I will say is this: 

Watching the coffee industry change and evolve over the last few years has been wonderful. Being apart of that evolution has been an honor. Somehow I’ve gone from reading about barista competitions on the internet and seeing so called “rock star baristas” competing for the sole purpose of bragging rights, to competing with 5 of the most humble, selfless baristas I’ve ever seen on stage.  Mike Marquard, Devin Pedde, Ryan Willber, Scott Lucy and above all Mike Phillips have made this years USBC the best one yet.

This years overall theme was a focus on coffee and farming, not the barista. There’s this wonderful shift in competitive baristas, moving away from finding the “best barista”, because the top baristas all have very similar skill levels and when you put 6 baristas, who all have an exceptional ability, what really sets them apart? The coffee. We’ve started realizing that the ultimate job of a barista is to simply not f*ck it up. Start with the best coffee, give it to a professional barista and watch what they can do with it. Intelligentsia took 1st,2nd,4th and5th this year. We had really great coffee. I’m undecided if I’m going to compete again. We’ll see.

Who says Christian music sucks?

This past weekend was the 40th anniversary of the Concern Foundation and their 34th annual Concern Block Party at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood. They’ve been able to raise over 40 million dollars to fund cancer research and we had the incredible honor of being apart of it this year. Everyone who purchased a ticket could go from booth to booth and sample food and drink from some of LA’s best restaurants, bakeries, bars and US.

I was able to get a few amazing people to volunteer their time and help work our booth.

Julia, Shar, Ryan and Devin all did an amazing job on such short notice. Thank you.

I would especially like to thank Nick Barnett for waking up early on a Saturday and loading up the Mistral, grinder, pump, water bottles etc. and making it work on his day off. And then coming back at 11pm and packing up the mistral, grinder, pump, you get the idea. Thank you sir.

Here’s few pictures showing the progression from setup, to the slow beginning to all hell breaking loose.

And yes… we had four Chemex brewing non-stop all night.

From Obey Giant

The WBC happened this past weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark. The USA was well represented by non other then Intelligentsia’s own Kyle Glanville. He was accompanied by coach, roaster and freind Deaton Pigot of Australia fame . The fab two endured many hardships on their way to Dane-Land from finding the proper wares to frying their grinder two days before leaving, even a hearty dose of vandalizing by the TSA . It’s been an interesting journey to say the least. I’m so proud to know Kyle and Deaton as friends and to work along side them is dream come true. I don’t know many people who work in their dream profession let alone work with some of the best people in their profession and I’m blessed to have both. Kyle placed 8th in the world. And that’s not bad.

Another one of my “best mates” is Steven Morrissey. Irish Cupping Champion, Latte Art Champion and now World Barista Champion. I always knew Steven was one of the best baristas in the world, but now he’s got the title to prove it!

WBC Champion is heavy title and one that comes with great responsibility. When James won last year, I felt there could be no better representative for coffee and the barista craft, and I feel exactly the same way this year.

Congrats Thud!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.