oh… right, that barista jam thing

I’ve been expecting something exciting and interesting to happen soon at the shop. Something Barista Mag Blog worthy… I’m not sure it’s gonna happen. Then I remembered that we had that barista jam with Metropolis Coffee like, 3 months ago. This was something we had been discussing with Tony and the Mtrop gang since the GLRBC last year and after many professional sounding e-mails, we finally threw the most unorganized barista jam in the history of barista jams. The original plan was for Tony and the Metropolis staff to come up for the weekend, we’d rent out the local microbrewery, invite everyone we know and look like total hot shots. Instead, Tony had a baby and couldn’t come up, the microbrewery got reserved for a wedding party before we could reserve it for the jam and we kinda forgot to tell anyone we were having a barista jam. So, we pulled as much out of our asses as we could at the last minute and it ended up being a really fun, fairly successful failed attempt.

The only Metropolis kids to make it out were Kristen and John. They brought with them about 40lbs of Redline Espresso, 20lbs of various Metropolis single origins and at least 15lbs of Black Cat Espresso and 15lbs of Intelly’s single origins– courtesy of the endless generosity of Doug Zell. We had about 20lbs of our espresso and 20lbs of single origins set aside so all together we had about 130lbs of coffee and about 15 people to drink it all. I had never been around such highly caffeinated people in my life. When it was all said and done we had about 25lbs of Redline, 10lbs of Black Cat, and probably 25lbs of random single origins left over. Obviously, we had Redline and Black Cat on guest tap for a few days after.
We decided we should cup everything coffee we had in order to have a fair “Blend Building Challenge”…..big mistake. Most of us at the Ugly Mug are not “spitters”, we go hard or go home. This also means we were all jittery messes for the rest of the day and after cupping some 15 different coffees, we had definitely used up most of our time we had set aside for the blend building thingy. Some of the coffees included a Yirgacheffe and a Huehuetenango from Metropolis, a Sumatra Abongabong and a Yirgacheffe from Intelly, a Huehuetenango, an Ecuadorian, a Kenyan Geisha and some Ethiopian Biloya from us. There were more, but I really can’t remember. John walked us all through a very classy cupping with real cupping spoons and everything. In the end, the Biloya and the Mtrop Yirg were the favorites and my hands were sweating pure caffeine.
otter, miro, kristen and john cupping

So we skipped right to the Latte Art Smackdown, a staple at any barista gathering ever since the infamous Intelly LA afterparty. The competitors were myself, Josh, Otter, Sierra and Miro from the Ugly Mug. Kristen representing Metropolis, Jim from Cafe Zola–now of the Ugly Mug, and Sara from Stumptown–formally of both Cafe Zola and the Ugly Mug. The Ugly Mug kids got one pour since we were all used to the machine, the out-of-towners got two. Needless to say, I was a shaking mess and even after pounding a beer in the broom closet, I still got knocked out first round. As did everyone else with the exception of Kristen, Josh and Jim. In the end, it was Josh by a nose… and he’ll never let us forget it.

JIm is a bad man

Next, we all voted– and beer won. We packed up, cleaned a little and headed over to the Corner Brewery to crash a wedding party and sample some of the Espresso Love Stout made with our coffee and Arbor Brewing Company’s amazing beer-know-how. The coffee is cold brewed and added last so the beer not only has an amazing body but more of a mellow and sweet coffee taste than the usual bitter coffee notes found in a lot of coffee stouts. We use a blend of Indian Elk Hill Estate and Cameroon Caplami Java creating a super chocolatey blend, slightly spicy with huge body.
made with ugly mug coffee, not metropolis...

The beer tasting was a success, the wedding decorations were destroyed and we felt as though our work was done. Most of the attendees took off so John, Kristen, the gang from the recently closed down MugShot, and the Ug-Mug kids made our way over to our most favoritest dive bar in town for the closing ceremony and talent show. Not surprisingly, everyone’s talent was drinking.

And that’s how a bunch of lazy baristas throw a barista jam.


  1. Zak, I wish I could have been there! Thanks for the bomb blog report on your jam, and can’;t wait to pound beers with you in a broom closet somewhere in Seattle next week!


  2. Dear Sarah and Ken
    Congratulations on the wedding!!!
    …And thank you so much for sharing this fantastic video from Sonja and Tone 🙂

    best regards, Elfa team Iceland NBC2007

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