SCAA's Annual Exposition and the National Barista Competition

Specialty Coffee Association of America is having their

in Houston, Tx this weekend paired with the

This is a big weekend in the specialty coffee world, and our coffee sourcer of our La Armonia Hermosa coffee, Les Stoneham, is taking a front seat. He's been able to listen to some of the most forward thinking people in coffee, and sit down and have a delicious dinner with them. We hope that he has a lot of fun and learns a lot!

Fall 2009 Seasonal Drink Competition Winner

Announcing this Fall season's Drink Competition winner...

Kayla Rush of Dayton, Ohio with her

Autumn Sunset Latte
  • medium size mug (16oz)
  • 2 shots of espresso
  • 1 1/2 oz of caramel
  • 1/2 oz of raspberry syrup
  • 1/2 oz of hazelnut
  • steamed milk
Kayla is a barista at a chocolate and coffee shop in Dayton Ohio, and said, "I was messing around one day with lattes and this is what I came up with. Also, the drink is still great without the hazelnut! Its a great drink for those who need the caffeine without the big coffee taste. : )"

She will be receiving two 12oz. bags of Vienna Coffee and a VCC mug. Congratulations

Thank you to all of our Participants. Don't worry you have another chance to win with our next competition. The Winter Seasonal Drink Competition has begun! Please send in your recipes by February 9, 2010, just in time for Valentine's Day. This is the best season for a good cup of hot coffee and tea! We'd love to hear from you. Need ideas? Check out our recipes or past winner's recipes.

Great Lakes Barista Competition

On February 20-22, Chicago hosted Coffeefest, the National Latte Art Competition, and the Great Lakes Barista Competition. This exciting event was filled with baristas, roasters, coffee shop owners, and anyone else in the coffee world. If you are a coffee fanatic this was the place to be!
The most exciting part of the weekend was the Barista Competition where friends of Vienna Coffee Company, Les Stoneham, Courtney Robinson, and Logan Demmy competed. In this competition baristas have 15 minutes to make 4 espressos, 4 lattes, and 4 signature drinks for each of the 4 sensory judges while being judged by 3 other judges on technical skills and style. This is no easy task. The barista has control over everything including the music being played, the table decorations, the grinder, the milk, the ingredients, the espresso, etc. The only constant is the espresso machine.

Les Stoneham had the drink, barista skills, and style that blew the judges away getting him into the finals. (in fact his score puts him in the top 10 baristas in the nation!) His award-winning signature drink that will lead him to Portland for the National Barista Competition was comprised of espresso with reduced Cabernet grape juice and hazelnut cream infused with blue cheese smoked over hazelnut shells. His inspiration for this drink was the idea of using food pairings. For example, certain wines and cheeses are paired together to bring out all the right tannins and emphasize the taste. In the same vein he wanted to use the cheese, cream, and grape juice to bring out all of the nuances from his special espresso.

Les wasn't the only one that scored high in the competition. Former trainee, Courtney Robinson's technical skills and drink won her her best score out of the four previous times she has competed. Her signature espresso drink included blood orange simple syrup with soda water and espresso placed in a martini styled glass with a dollop of juniper berry whipped cream that is stirred into the drink by the judges. Her drink was not only great, but she also received almost perfect scores for her technical barista skills!

Logan Demmy, also trained by Les, shined in his first barista competition and scored exceptionally high! His drink of anise infused tapioca and espresso in a delicate glass and rimmed with cardamom and honey whipped coconut milk had strong marks by the judges. He definitely looked comfortable on the barista stage like he belonged there all along.

At this time we want to wish Les and Courtney the best of luck at Nationals!

If you have any questions about Coffeefest, barista competitions, latte art, or barista training please email us at

If you are looking for the weekly deal please look at last Thursday's post. That deal is still in affect this week.

Latte Art and La Armonia Hermosa

Some people have been asking about latte art. This delicate art is not required on a great latte but it helps to show when a shot is pulled perfectly, and shows when the milk is frothed correctly. Basically it's just the frosting on the cake, but isn't it a beautiful cake? Here is a great example from a superb barista trainer and coffee shop co-owner in Cincinnati, Ohio. Les Stoneham received 9th place in the Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition a couple years ago. He is also helping to start up a direct trade coffee co-operative in Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala. Please check out their website for more information... We are happy to be joining in this venture. In the near future we will be roasting and selling some of their coffee. So check back to find out when we will have that available!

This is my attempt at latte art. I was trained by Les, but please note I haven't done latte art in almost a year.  What do they say? "Practice makes perfect," and I obviously haven't been practicing.