Northeast Regional Barista Competition Finalist: Jesse Darrow
On Sunday he competed again, this time against the five other finalists from the Northeast region. He placed out of the top three, but gave another extremely impressive performance.
He kept extremely cool under pressure. In fact, that was the theme of his presentation: at the conclusion, he toasted to pressure with his judges, "Without the pressure in our espresso machines and in our minds, we wouldn't be here today." Very tongue-in-cheek, very sneaky smile - very Jesse. He played pressure-themed songs throughout his performance - and started out with one of my favorites: "Pressure Drop" by Toots and the Maytals.
Jesse's Ommegang Brewery-inspired signature beverage tasted exactly like a porter. For serious, y'all. I found myself expecting to feel tipsy after a few sips of it (ok, so I'm a lightweight). I really couldn't get enough of it - it was balanced, complex and smooth. He used an AeroPress to infuse the hops,
malt and barley, the pressure acting to speed up the brewing process, similar to how an espresso machine works. He then pulled a shot of Leftist on top, which lent the porter-like chocolate, and also, the crema of the espresso mimicked the head of a beer. It was obvious he really thought a lot about all aspects of his drink.
In short, Jesse made Gimme proud. If you see him, go ahead and give him a high five.
Thanks to Liz Clayton for these pictures - check out twitchy.org for more info and pictures of the competition.