July 7, 2011

World's Strongest Barista

Finding World's Strongest Man on ESPN as a child was like finding out school was serving pizza for lunch that day. Sure, the product wasn't that great, if you thought about it. But why think about it? Why not just enjoy the cheesy, greasy surprise?

And so I did. I reveled, on those otherwise lost summer days, in the drama of tires flipped, boulders lifted, and pillars held. There were men with names like vikings, and thighs the size of legend's World Tree.

Fast forward a few years. I make coffee for a living -- a profession that has its own world championship. But the World Barista Championship, great as it is, lacks a certain drama that can only be sponsored by MetRx.

Perhaps the WBC is a little too heavy on the technique, and not focused enough on the raw athleticism and strength it takes to be an elite barista.

I'd like to change that, by suggesting possible additions to the WBC, inspired by some giant named Sven. Including even one of these scenarios in the competition would go a long way towards solidifying the reputation of baristas as paragons of fitness.

#1 The Tamp: It's a simple move, fundamental to the very craft of making coffee. This is a simple idea, too. Press on a scale, as hard as you can. Most pressure wins.

#2 Portafilter Dislodge: This, sadly, is almost as common an occurrence as the former. Some jackass (totally not you) slammed the portafilter in to the head a few minutes ago. Now it's stuck, and it will take an act of god to remove it -- or your raw power!

#3 Crate Carry: The milk man has arrived, but left as quickly, and without putting anything away. Carry as many crates of milk as you can, from the back door, to the fridge. Time is a factor.

#4 Down and Dirty: So you know that one fridge that doesn't have wheels, and no one ever sweeps under? Yeah, you have to lift it, and hold it for as long as you can. Preferably, your coworker will have finished scrubbing by then.

#5 Coffee Curl: Grab two, 3-liter airpots (full, of course), and curl them for reps.

#6 Blender Burn: Congratulations, you made something kinda like a frappuccino. Only you don't have an industrial blender, or Starbucks' magical mixing ingredients, so the whole concoction is stuck at the bottom of the blender. Shake it until dislodged, in to a cup. Penalty for spillage.

#7 Box Toss: You've just received your general stock order, but all your limited storage space is full. Get all the boxes on to the unreachable top shelf, either by tossing them, or by doing your best King Kong on the Empire State building impression.

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