CIGS competitors trained with renowned baristas and bartenders last month in Provincetown, Mass.
BY ERIC GRIMM
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Hawkeye Johnson
Glitter Cat finished off a whirlwind month of coffee competition training with a quirky and scrappy Coffee In Good Spirits bootcamp held November 23-25 in partnership with Kohi Coffee Company in Provincetown, Mass. While previous bootcamps were held at more traditional coffee facilities, team Glitter Cat embraced the strange in Provincetown by setting up La Marzocco GS3s and Mahlkonig grinders in an elementary school science lab. Ten coffee and booze enthusiasts with a wide range of experience took a chance on a fledgling bootcamp for a competition that’s still trying to define itself in the United States; they emerged with sharpened skills and Glitter Cat’s trademark sense of community.
As with all bootcamps, the CIGS Glitter Cats were immediately immersed in intensive competition workshops, which covered rules and regulations, bartending techniques, presentation building, and tinctures work. Seasoned beverage masters who have found success in both worlds gave practical instruction that applied to both competition and their careers beyond. These instructors included individuals like head judge and Liberty Bar owner Brandon Paul Weaver, renowned bartender Alex Negranza, and former coffee competitor and freelance bartender Amanda Whitt. Brewers Cup champion and CIGS judge Rose Woodard led presentation work, while reigning U.S. Coffee In Good Spirits champion Matt Foster taught a range of workshops aimed at making winners out of the group. Cats and instructors embraced the unusual space by utilizing a grand library of booze, provided mostly by Campari America, and bar tools from OXO to test their cocktails all weekend—trying, failing, succeeding, and laughing along the way.
Commonly with the other camps, CIGS Glitter Cats spent evenings in teary reflection and madcap rivalry. Atlas Coffee Importers again organized a Gender Action Learning System workshop, this time led by Tymika Lawrence. The evening was high on emotion for those who were honest about career and personal struggles but pushed toward the hope of promising futures with journey mapping. On the second night, Provincetown Brewing Co. hosted the first (and likely last) Glitter Cat beer and cider throwdown, in which all attendees were encouraged to wear capes as they sometimes successfully married two liquids that probably shouldn’t be united. Glitter Cats Mo Koolphanich and Matt Kumar won the evening by creating a hot beverage using beer, espresso, and Pacific Barista Series Coconut that at least a few in attendance claimed was surprisingly drinkable. While none of the cats’ beer and cider concoctions are likely to make the menu at their workplaces, the sheer ridiculousness of the evening was infectious as they sported their skills and capes.
The final morning put the cats in presentation mode as they served coffee cocktails to their instructors. Glittery flair abounded for these sleepy but determined kittens. MiMo Tran presented a Cynar-infused beverage with an origami artichoke, while Mika Turberville illustrated a cabin in the woods on their menu to call on the warm feeling of their hot toddy-inspired beverage. After a successful run of presentations, there were teary goodbyes to both this cohort and a month of community building, but all with the enduring hope of a successful competition season amongst new family. “I have so many less fears after Glitter Cat,” said Cyrenthia Ngueya. “I feel confident in my bar technique, my coffee abilities, and my drink. I am not nervous about scripts or anything honestly, because I know I have people that I can contact to help me and I know I will have my Glitter Fam there when I compete.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric J. Grimm counts 11 years in the coffee industry in New York City, where he has helped execute over 500 events as the catering manager of Joe Coffee Company and has held his tongue while making 1,000 flat whites. He has written about coffee in popular culture for Sprudge, is a retired theater critic, and once ghost wrote a savage Khloe Kardashian diss in an issue of Us Weekly.