If you guys follow us on Instagram, then you saw that we got to be apart of a really awesome event this past weekend hosted by Bar Nine in Culver City. And we just wanted to recap our experience with you and tell you about the amazing coffee community and the fun events happening around it!
Bar Nine is by far one of our favorite coffee shops because of their entire outlook on coffee and community. If you’ve every visited the shop, you know exactly what we’re talking about. If not, let us explain: as soon as you walk in the door, you’re greeted by a friendly barista who’s behind an open bar – open bar meaning that instead of having an espresso machine blocking you from any interaction with them, they’ve streamlined a low-level bar that allows each customer to have a one-on-one experience with their barista. It’s a really great concept that owner Zayde Naguib loves to emphasize in his shop. Simply put, Bar Nine believes in pushing coffee forward and bringing hospitality back into coffee. Furthermore, instead of having multiple beans, they serve one coffee, four different ways. Simple. Open. Amazing.
So, you can see why instead of doing a latte art throwdown (which are still very fun and entertaining), their rules were simple: one coffee served any way you’d like, to three judges. Each barista would be judged on both hospitality and coffee. So, where do two people with a love for coffee, but ZERO barista experience come into play? Well, our friend John, who’s the manager at Bar Nine, asked if we’d like to help by serving the coffee from each contestant and we jumped at the chance!
Not going to lie, although we weren’t the ones going up in front of the judges and presenting our coffee, we were a bit nervous. You see, you always want to make the roaster proud by brewing their beans with the utmost care and precision, so it can be a daunting task serving their own coffee to them. One roaster/owner even told us that he’s never had his own coffee brewed by somebody else that wasn’t himself or his staff. Talk about pressure! But, I guess we didn’t do so badly and it’s pretty foul-proof when you’re using this baby! We’re currently saving up all of our pennies for it since it’ll set you back a cool $350. But, we think it definitely passed our stress test!
Let’s get back to the competition!
The amazing thing about Bar Nine‘s 2nd Annual “Anything Goes* Competition” was being able to see how passionate and creative each barista was in presenting their coffee. From a camping theme complete with chocolate covered marshmallows to using an Aeropress to home brewer’s and coffee iced cubes, it was a pretty spectacular night. After each round, the crowd would rush back to us and try each coffee, reveling in the smell of each bag of beans and bonding over their love for coffee.
We loved being welcomed into the coffee community with open arms and we’re so proud to be apart of a group who are equal parts creative, helpful and kind! And it was so great to be able to connect with people that we’ve only known through social media and match a face to the (Instagram) name. The best part was feeling a sense of community among the crowd. Everybody was cheering each contestant on and if you could tell by our Insta-stories, the room was filled with lots of love. Now, that’s what the coffee community is all about and what we hope our blog encompasses.
And between our slight coffee buzz and the excitement around the competition, we didn’t want the night to end, but alas the judges tallied up their scores and Zayde excitedly announced the winners among the ten competitors.
Drum roll, please!
Respectfully, Andrew Sinclair, owner/roaster extraordinaire of Madlab Coffee came in third place with his creative use of a magnetic stirrer and brewing method that uses less coffee in each cup. We got to take home his extra beans and let’s just say his Panama -Finca Santa Theresa is bomb dot com! And not only is this guy a creative genius, he’s also one of the nicest guys.
Second place went to Chuck Herrera, a barista from Menotti’s in Venice, CA. It was so great to see his co-worker and friend, Nicely, cheering him on during his presentation and seeing the different strength variations that you can get with the Aeropress, a product that to some seems like a tedious last resort brewing method. Chuck was able to see past that and allowed the judges to see past it, too!
And finally, winner winner chicken dinner! Kim Snyder, the always friendly manager of Recreational Coffee out of Long Beach, CA. Fun fact: when we moved to California back in October, we went to Recreational and had the Hoppy Iced Coffee, which is what she served to the judges using their Ethiopia Koke and Wai-Iti hops. A well-deserved win for Kim and the Recreational Coffee crew who came out to support her!
Although, three were chosen, it was a really great competition that more coffee shops should host (especially if they have the space like Bar Nine does)! Thank you so much Zayde, John, and the rest of the Bar Nine crew – you guys really do live up to your mission statement. THANK YOU. We are so incredibly thankful for the opportunity for us to serve you guys coffee at the event and for every new or familiar face that we saw at the event! Indeed, we felt the love!
We don’t say this enough, but you guys are an awesome community to join and we love being able to help bridge the gap between coffee and people. We’ve said it before, but coffee is just coffee; it’s the community or people that you get to share it with that makes all the difference! Cheers to that!