The Saint Louis Signature Beverage Challenge
On Monday, August 4th at 7pm, coffee professionals from all over Saint Louis, and one from Kansas City, got together at Kayak’s by Kaldi’s Coffee for the first BGA Member Driven Event in Saint Louis: The Saint Louis Signature Beverage Challenge. There were 20 competitors and four judges. Competitors and judges included baristas from Kaldi’s, Blueprint, Comet, Sump, Rise, Goshen, and Wayfarer coffee. The goal: make the tastiest coffee beverage they could. And that they did.
Judges for the evening said that the drinks they tasted that night were far beyond what they had expected. I agree. It was quite the night for my palate. I got to taste Sumatra coffee gelatin, lemon sorbet with a coffee simple syrup, a milkshake which had barrel aged Gesha Kyoto as a primary ingredient, and a drink that tasted exactly like a strawberry tootsie roll. These are just a few of the incredible concoctions that were served. It was great to see the amount of work that each competitor put into his or her drink and the huge differences between drinks was a testament to how versatile coffee can be.
The competition aspect of the event was wonderful, but what may have even been better was the diversity of the crowd. Nearly 150 people turned out. Coffee professionals from all over the area came, not only to root for their favorite drink, but also to be engulfed by a group of people who shared their own interests. There were conversations and friendly faces everywhere. The Saint Louis coffee community is alive and well.
Guests and competitors were treated to food from a local Greek restaurant, the Olympia (the Spanakopita were out of control). Beer from two different local breweries, Four Hands and Urban Chestnut. Swag and prizes from Espresso Supply, Café Imports, and the Barista Guild of America. Also, the competitors were told to make extra drinks to be passed around for guests to taste. So much of the time at competitions people look, but can not drink, and that was something I wanted to change.
Overall, the event was a huge success. Taking first place was Nora Brady from Blueprint. Second place was Laura Clark from Kaldi’s Kansas City. In third place was Mike Marquard from Blueprint. I am thrilled that so many people showed up and that the crowd was so diverse. The effort put forth by everyone involved was incredible and I know that this is only the beginning of creating a cohesive, vibrant community of baristas in Saint Louis.