Monday, August 06, 2007

gutsy

i said a couple posts below that i had nothing new to add to the wbc signals being pumped out across the blogosphere already. while that may be true, i did have a thought that i considered worthy of extrapolation, and that is how gutsy a move it is and how cross current it is for a barista like james hoffman to capture the title of world's best barista by seemingly going in the opposite direction of where the competition as a whole is going.

i guess here's what i mean. watching all the great video posted on zacharyzachary showed the wholesale complexification of the event into the next realm of true culinary events. now, for sure, there is still a long road ahead before the general field is producing performances that are anywhere food network worthy. but it was evident to this blogger that the sheer volume of participants and the overall level of seriousness and skill at which most of the participants competed shows that this competition is ready to take those next steps into acceptance and respect as a true global culinary event. (the fact that we may actually be 3-5 years (or more) away from those kinds of accolades and acceptance is not my point here. there seemed to be a tangible shift upward in the level of competition as a whole this year, which says to me that the event is gaining critical mass.)

therefore, with the level of complexity and sophistication moving generally upward it is mildly but pleasingly surprising to recognize jim as the world's best vis-a-vis the fact that he seemed to consciously go the opposite direction of this general complexification by winning it all with two single-origin coffees.

what i'm not saying is that jim is not deserving of it or hasn't the skills of anyone else. clearly not. what i'm saying--and loudly applauding--is the brilliance of his statement that simple is better, especially when it comes to espresso.

now, who knows but that this fact of simplicity wasn't merely a quick decision based on the fact that jim and company didn't want to have to blend anything, were too low on time to work up a good blend, or that they simply got access to those two coffees first and just decided to run with them for better or worse. etcetera. nonetheless, the move was gutsy and that it succeeded i think justifies their decision (and my long held belief) that striking coffees deserve a platform of their own. better that than blending them, however skillfully, into a symphony of other flavors. i respect that move but it is not a path i like to take.

so hats off to jim. you've reopened a vital conversation vein that is worthy of serious contemplation.

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