Thursday, April 13, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 35

Back home in DC/Baltimore

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series Finale - Jay and Nick look back on the weekend's debauchery. Also, they discuss USBC controversies, Intelligentsia Intimidation, and all sorts of SCAA talk. Yes, this one is out-of-sequence, but you'll sorta understand why.

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Anonymous counting said...

Podcast 35?

4/14/2006 08:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Changing of the guards...

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time hs come" - Victor Hugo

4/14/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Jay - you are the sage.

"But we ARE all mom and pops..."

Mel and I knew that of course going into this show, but we really FELT it in Charlotte. Nice to hear someone with your experience acknowledge same. So much to learn... time to go back to Italy and remember this is all supposed to be simpler...

Anyway, hope to get down your way soon.

Nick - do the landscaping. You don't want your neighbors saying things like, "Yeah, we heard the coffee's great, but you won't catch me there... I mean just look at the guy's yard for crissakes!" Besides, you can probably buy a floor model of Clover at a discount later on ;-)

4/14/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

I'm sitting at home listening to the podcast and I have to call Bullshit on a few items that have occured to me just a few moments ago.

Another blogger commented to me yesterday that the USBC Rules have no provision for a "Video Review." Meaning that while video footage may exist of the competition, there is no allowance for using that footage to determine any ruling making the ruling to allow Dennhardt to enter the Finals illegal and improper.

Here's another point to consider: according to the accounting of the incident related to me from Nick in this episode, it seems that the challenge was brought forth because the 20 point penalty eliminated Dennhardt from the Finals. How would Dennhardt know that those 20 points removed him from the finals if his scores were not improperly disclosed to him?

Does this mean that the integrity of the competition has been compromised and violated?

Or does this mean that competitor scores are now available prior to the close of the competition?

4/15/2006 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I wouldn't speculate that Ryan knew the scores, without first asking him.

My thought is, they (the Dennhardts) felt that they had lost sufficiently enough time because of judge blocking that it would make a difference in the points. They also felt confident that if they weren't the top six, they were barely out of it. Asking for a review and seeing a points adjustment might be enough to get them into the finals - again, speculation on their part, and not based on some knowledge of the scores.

Again, I'd be more comfortable going with that, and not with the latter.

Jay, I know you have issues with this, and you make a strong point re, you and your milk, and still finishing on time.

But personally, I think too much focus is on judges in these comps, and this episode shows that judges can be more than a few hinderances to performances.

I've also seen in the past much worse examples of judges and runners "blocking" the baristas. What happened with Ryan was kind of tame by comparison, but imo, we need to get to a point where judges are non-existant at these comps - just the end delivery result, not the focus of so much as they are today.

Then again, what do I know. I'm retiring. ;)

4/15/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Inman said...

Jay and Nick,

This is one of the best shows yet- one that needs to be digested and understood. While this may requrie multiple listenings, the information and wisdom that will come from this excercise will be well worth it.

"We are Mom and Pops" was one of the best lines I've heard in a long time. Something that has always concerned me is that people can feel as if they have not really "made it" in this business unless they have reached the business size of Intelly/Equal Exchange or GMCR.

It ain't the size of the busness, it is what you do with wife makes a similar comment to make me feel better..LOL!

Threre are too many other gems that I could comment on, but I do not want to take up too much space here. Thank you Nick and Jay for sticking with this podcast. It is one of the most intersting things that have happened in this industry in the past couple of years..

You are correct in your assessment when you said, "people complain about the length but you know you are listening....listening to every damn word!"

4/15/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

Well, I like listening to every word for sure, but I have not had the time to listen to this one entirely. Just wanted to comment on th Ryan thing:
I can't agree or disagree with Ryan or the call that was made because I was not involved or there to even see it. BUT! Don't you think it is well worth it to push the issue? I mean, just for the sake of trying an appeal?
There have been so many damned times in the last year that people have moaned and bitched about things being unfair and they feel so disconnected...blah blah blah...I guess we just have to take this shit because someone else says so!
C'mon! You have to hand it to Denhardt. He saw an issue and pursued it! I commend the USBC committee for giving him his day in court, so to speak. It can only make the competition stronger.
And I guess the video was enough to convince them, so what-ev about that ...what's up with you guys and the red tapey "it's not the proper kind of video" talk? I never expected that from you.

4/15/2006 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

First off, I should say again that I'm a business owner so pushing the limits of the rules always holds a place near and dear to my heart. But this is the top level of competition in a winner takes all format, which means the community takes a critical eye towards the events. I like all this discussion. I think it's healthy for our community so keep slugging away.

Let's not forget the fact that we're not talking about going five seconds overtime. We're talking about going THIRTY-FIVE seconds overtime. My understanding is that Dennhardt passed the second 20 point penalty mark (15:30), which hit him with a total 40 point deduction. He's already overtime. There's no one disputing that he'd gone overtime.

A top-level barista should be flexible and able to handle any problem that arises. Judges are going to take a long time to drink, think and score. Runners are going to get in the way. This is part of the game. The question is whether or not the barista can handle a glitch along the way and compensate. Or is the barista's program so tight that and so chock full of presentation that there's no leeway for error or variation?

During the semi-finals round, I dropped the gallon of milk jug because I didn't fully set it onto the refrigerator shelf. The jug dropped, the cap popped and half a gallon of milk ended on the floor. There's a half gallon of milk on the carpet - you can't miss it if you're a judge and I couldn't very well ignore it. The only choice left was to attend to the spill. This probably happened right around the 10:00 mark. I spent the next four and a half minutes finishing and serving the cappuccino course, preparing and serving the signature drink, mopped up the entire spill and still had time to dilly-dally around before punching the clock at 14:59.

So to bitch, moan and protest about runners and judges at 15:35 falls on deaf ears with me. If the time was 15:30 then perhaps your have a legitimate complaint, but after the second time penalty just says that your presentation is inflexible and you're unable to handle a curveball.

And I disagree with the notion that the judges should be non-existant. I think judges are an integral part of the process. The competitions are already so far removed from cafe life and I'm not in favor of moving it further. Taking the judges out of the equation does just that because we need to serve someone the drinks. The barista is not complete without someone to serve. All that knowledge and expertise mean nothing without a customer to share and impart that knowledge.

I mean, what's the biggest problem with the competitions? What's the most heard complaint? They're BORING. The audience (and ostensibly the judges) aren't captivated by the cappuccino. They're captivated by the barista. By the entertainment. Take away the judges and you might as well be serving the drinks alone and in a box.

I don't have a problem with someone making a challenge. But the method of the challenge is what troubles. I haven't heard it yet, but evidently Dennhardt is on the Podcast the night before finals accepting the fact that he didn't make it. No questions. No concerns. What changed in the eight hours between the podcast and the hours before the SCAA Town Hall Meeting where Mireya Jones announced the controversy? Seems that Dennhardt had no questions that night. Seems to me that someone disclosed his scores and how they were affected by the time penalty.

Then there's the issue of using video footage to determine the problem. There's no provision for this, which makes it improper. What if there had been a problem at the MARBC? No video means you're shit out of luck?

If you're going to raise a protest that protest should be raised immediately after your performance. Not the next day. Let's not forget that Dennhardt performed number 14 out of 25. His scheduled performance time was at 1:45pm. That's at least FOUR HOURS of time to raise a challenge before the end of competition.

I'll let you decide.

4/16/2006 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

Like I said, I can't actually vouch for the complaint or not. I am not prepared to do that. I am in favor of people making complaints...pretty much as a rule.
Please don't speculate about motives. Don't speculate that scores were disclosed if you don't know that to be true.
By the way, Jen Prince had to serve her sig drink to the side of her charger because the demis had were not cleared in time. The porters were also in her way when she went to serve them. I AM NOT saying this had anything to do with her final score, and she did not make any complaint. In fact, she made no mention to me about it afterwards...she just rolled with it.
(I want to stress that I may be the only person who noticed or even cared about this lil glitch)
BUT bottom line is that someone or something got in the way of her doing exactly what she wanted to do that day. Perhaps the porters and judges will be more careful in the future because of Ryan's complaint and that can only be a good thing. Perhaps they will put solid provisions in place for formal complaints, and that can only be a good thing. Perhaps they will make a rule that this kind of thing can never be contested again, but at least they'll have figured it out.

Jeez, I remember back when this all started in Norway. The judges sometimes made rules up during the deliberations of the final round, "no, we can't allow double cappuccinos." Seriously! After someone had gotten all the way to finals with double caps and then after the fact they find out they were disqualified! A one-off horror story, you might think, but I fully believe that the benefit of the doubt should always go to the competitor - only then will the organizers understand where rules need to be made.
The USBC handled this one the right way, as far as I'm concerned, bless 'em.

4/16/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger lee said...

On the podcast length issue, all I can say is, Rock on with your bad selves, Nick and Jay.

Just today I dropped off the car for a little interior shampoo, popped around the corner to get myself an afternoon latte at Metropolis, and hoofed it all the way home with you guys in my ears for company. I love having a podcast stash at the ready for walkin', drivin' or waitin'. Keep it up!

4/17/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Haeger said...

I'm way late, but in response to the Changing of the Guards..

It's odd.. I felt it from Lubbock, TX just from reading Mark Prince's road reports and seeing Matt Riddle on tv. HUGE steps right there.. we are currently in the midst of the progress of some major changes.

Not that I know much about all this, but I could just sense it.. really really blatantly.

4/18/2006 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ryan dennhardt told me directly that his scores were disclosed to him the night before finals, and i believe that they were disclosed to him DURING the barista bash, i would surmise after his appearance on your show. i asked him how he found out, and he told me squarely that michelle campbell had told him.

4/26/2006 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...


Oh, c'mon. That's lame.

4/26/2006 10:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan was overhead on the phone telling someone (his mom maybe?) his scores from the semi-finals round at that party. He knew his score somehow.

I am a different Anonymous.

4/27/2006 11:48:00 AM  
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