Interview: 2009 USBC Competitor Nik Krankl (Taste Coffee House)

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Barista Boston

From March 5-8, the Oregon Convention Center in Portland is hosting the 2009 United States Barista Championship. Leading up to the USBC, I’m showcasing baristas who decided to compete for the American coffee crown. Meet Nik Krankl, who works for Taste Coffee House in Newtonville, Massachusetts.

1. Did anything surprise you about your regional competition?
I was mostly impressed by the large field of competitors that showed up. It was a really great sign of the direction that coffee is heading! Also, bravo to those in charge of managing and organizing the event. It ran very smoothly.

2. Will adjust your approach for the United States Barista Championship? If so, how?
Mostly just polishing and refining. Developing a new sig drink and finding different demitasse is a time luxury I don’t have. I can think of a lot that I will do differently in next years competition, but unfortunately there are only 24 hours in a day, and I spent 14 of them behind the counter at my coffee shop.

3. What is your goal at the USBC?
To win, period. The experience and the people that I have and will meet are incredibly important, but I’m so competitive that when I play a game, anything less than winning is a disappointment.

4. What did you learn by competing at your regional?
I learned a bit more about what the judges are looking for, and where one can lose/gain points. As a 1st time competitor, this is all new to me. I also learned a lot about working on a heat exchange espresso machine, and how unbelievably frustrating it is to try and dial in your shots. I forgot what a luxury it is to have a Synesso!

5. What’s your training schedule like until the USBC?
My goal is to fit in as much time as possible. All the mistakes show up on stage, and it really shows how prepared one is.

6. What’s a coffeehouse you didn’t know about before your regional competition that you now plan to visit?
I haven’t been to Murky, yet. I’m interested in seeing what those guys/gals got going on…

7. What’s your approach in choosing the music that plays during your performance?
I have to admit, my fiance, Julia, selected the music for me. Nevertheless, the goal is to get the judges and audience excited about my routine. I want to set a tempo that I’m comfortable working with (not too slow, nor too fast, but just right). For the most part, I just want everyone (myself included) to have fun during my 15 minutes.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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