UPDATE: We are no longer receiving direct donations to the Finca Santa Maria fund. Thank you so very much for your support! We far exceeded our initial goal will have an update soon on the total amount received. You can read Armando’s letter of gratitude here. For Maritza and I, it was just another travel… Continue Reading
This story begins with one very tiny KIA Sportage, five coffee professionals, a cooler full of cold brewed Pacamara Natural, and a trunk packed with specialty coffee from our Colombian Direct Trade partners. Last weekend members of the PT’s crew hit the road heading east with one goal in mind – to share our love for exceptional coffee with the people at CoffeeFest Chicago. The energy of CoffeeFest is vibrant and cheerful and our team was thrilled to compete on Navy Pier for the title of “America’s Best Coffeehouse.”
The America’s Best Coffeehouse competition was developed to determine and acknowledge the top three coffeehouses in North America. Our team represented PT’s at the Crossroads and participated in the Central Region bracket. The competition itself involves completing a 15 minute opening shift, a 30 minute coffee service, and a 15 minute closing shift. Judges keep a close eye on the teams and score them on everything from cleanliness, knowledge of the menu items, team work, and the sensory experience of the products served. Shout out to all six teams who came out and put their hearts into it:
- Muggswigz Coffee & Tea – Canton, OH
- Vint Coffee – Louisville, KY
- The Caffeinery – Muncie, IN
- PT’s at the Crossroads – Kansas City, MO
- Cabin Coffee Co. – Forest City, IA
- Quills Coffee – Louisville, KY
Our team wanted to be sure our menu represented our mission statement: “exceptional coffee, lifelong friendships, and the wisdom to appreciate both.” As a company we take quality very seriously. We are committed to working with coffee farmers who are true artisans of coffee cultivation and practice their craft with dedication, skill, and passion. Our menu offerings were specially crafted to pay homage to our partners at La Palma Y El Tucan, Café Granja La Esperanza, and Finca Villa Loyola. Two of the coffees we featured at the competition arrived at our roasting facility about a week before the competition. It felt very much like Christmas in June.
The Last Teams Standing:
After two grueling days of competition, the list of six teams turned into three finalists. The final rounds were far from easy – each team hustled and gave it their all. There are so many great things to say about all of these teams. In an effort to keep it brief we’ll just cover rankings and the signature drink offered.
- 3rd place went to Vint Coffee (far left in photo). Their speciality drink was the Butchertown Fizz – a refreshing combination of ginger beer, espresso, and lemon.
- 2nd place came home with the team from PT’s at the Crossroads (center in photo). For our signature drink we put a Kansas City spin on a breve cortado. Our single origin espresso from Finca Villa Loyola danced with natural coffee flower honey from Café Granja La Esperanza to create a balanced, complex, and creamy treat.
- 1st Place, and the title of America’s Best Coffeehouse, went to the crew from Quills Coffee (far right in photo). Their signature drink was a super tasty Shakerato – a shaken espresso with an orange blossom simple syrup, garnished with cherry and clementine. Served chilled.
What We Learned:
No man is an island and success is all about teamwork. Being a great café is multi-dimensional – it involves excellence in everything you do. On the list of things you need to excel as a café you’ll find great coffee, great personalities, great music, and great machines. Ultimately it’s teamwork that makes your café experience unforgettable for customers. Teamwork means knowing when and how to help in a way that ensures your customers have a stellar experience every time.
Special Thanks To:
The story wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging all the hard work that went into preparing for this competition. First and foremost, a shout out to the farmers and producers. Seriously, these guys grow some of the finest coffee in the world and we’re honored to work with and learn from them. Second, our team at the roasting facility – the roasters who worked diligently to ensure these coffees were handled with finesse and the front office team who tasted and critiqued them.
Lastly, it’s safe to say the long drive to Chicago would not have been possible without some major coffee love in the city of Saint Louis. Here’s to Sump Coffee, Blueprint Coffee, and The Mudhouse for their generous hospitality and their dedication to exploring and highlighting specialty coffee.
Thank you Chicago for showing the PT’s crew a lovely time. Stay tuned to our blog for more coffee travel updates and origin reports. Until next time, go forth and drink great coffee.
Boquete, Panama – December 10, 2012 I’ve been traveling to Panama for nearly a decade now. It’s one of my favorite trips each year. The producers here are very educated, up to date the latest farming and processing techniques, agronomy and the science of coffee. So I took it as one of my many goals… Continue Reading
I got one of “those” emails a few weeks back that seemed a little strange at first . It was a “last chance offer” to respond to an opportunity from Google. Apparently a representative of Google had tried unsuccessfully the prior week to reach me via email only I didn’t respond. I hate it when… Continue Reading
Republished with permission by Mike Perry, Klatch Roasting One of the great things about the coffee industry is the friendships and relationships. Even though we all compete and strive for the perfect roast or espresso, we still work together and help each other out. Often we travel together and even buy lots of coffee together.… Continue Reading
El Salvador Cup of Excellence supporters – Nine years ago when El Salvador joined the Cup of Excellence family, many nay-sayers said that this country could not identify small farms and did not produce the kind of unique quality that was worthy of a Cup of Excellence award. El Salvador has always had great processing… Continue Reading
Big news for another one of our Direct Trade partners. Juan Diego De La Cerda of Guatemala – Finca El Socorro y Anexos – finished in the top 5 of the Coffee of the Year competition when the winners were announced by the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Roasters Guild yesterday. I just… Continue Reading
I was enjoying a rare day off at origin today – in Panama City this time – when all of the sudden I began to get these nagging feelings of guilt about not updating our PT’s blog more often. I hate it when that happens! A self imposed guilt trip ruining a perfectly good day… Continue Reading
Finca El Socorro, Guatemala In 2010 we introduced you to a Guatemalan offering that we at PT’s were thrilled to launch as our newest Direct Trade Relationship coffee. Finca El Socorro Maracaturra made it’s way into our roasting plant mid September and was gone before we knew it. As sad as we were to see… Continue Reading
What an exciting visit to Finca Mercedes last week, even if it was a little different than first anticipated. Normally we are eager just to see the quality of coffee this farm continues to produce. This year we got a little added excitement. One member of our traveling party awoke early to the sound of… Continue Reading