The eagerly anticipated opening of Jay Caragay’s second Spro location in Hampden, Baltimore, was pre-heated with a dawn to dusk Barista Jam last Saturday. The day was the organizational brain child of Lindsay Wailes, one of Jay’s Baristas for the new location. The basic outline of the day went like this
-Eat a catered pastry and yogurt breakfast
-Coffee brewing Demos
-Eva solo, Clever drip, Chemex, Syphon, Aeropress
-Competition rules and judging workshop
-Latte art workshop
It was a lot of stuff to pack into one day. Jay’s Baristas had been put in charge of dialing in all the brewing parameters of all the methods using all the coffees they carry. There were multiple roasters represented from Barefoot, Intelligentsia, Hines , Counter Culture, as well as local Baltimore roasters Bluebird and Zekes. I like how Jay has delegated the brewing parameters to the staff. Simultaneously empowering, instilling confidence, and raising skill levels, this ingenious training tactic has made the shop a better place before the doors are even open. Each brewing method was demonstrated by the Barista who personally developed the shop’s technique for that particular method. All the methods delivered extremely good presentations of the coffees specifically chosen for each brewing device.
The space is located along a retail strip of old, narrow store fronts in an area where the architecture is reminiscent a little bit of Washington DC. There is comfortable church pew (rarely do the two go together) and handful of two topper tables and chairs. The bar area is designed with the Barista in mind. An island of counter houses the brew bar, with a large hot water tower and it’s own sink, a single halogen burner for the syphons, a two bay stainless steel pour over station, and spare room for scales and things. The old LaMarzocco Linea, developed and built as a prototype for Starbucks many years ago (but never placed in green apron service) now features bright halogen lamps that illuminate only when the group is activated. The white light created by these babies is soooo much nicer than the blue shift of LEDs.
There was a cupping lead by Devlin, formerly a roaster from New Harvest in Providence, Rhode Island. Scott Conary, USBC big time judge talked about rules and judges, and various interpretations of rules. I lead a latte art workshop. It was my goal to have a very informative workshop while keeping to a minimum of demonstration. The only latte art I poured for the workshop was a single Monk’s Head design, which is something I like for people to practice. It is a great “back to basics” skill drill.
Edit: It has just occurred to me that Scott Conary is a big time WBC judge, not USBC.
You can read about the latte art throwdown in the previous post, which I won. It is the first latte art throwdown I have ever won. I won a bag of people’s stuff, which was kind of cool.