Last weekend, Remington, Everly, Jude, and I took a three-day weekend and went up to Seattle to experience the U.S. Coffee Championships. We drove up Thursday afternoon and stayed at an Airbnb in Ballard.

{If you are still staying in hotels when you travel, you should give Airbnb a try. It is essentially renting a room in someone’s house (or you can rent an entire house…excellent for traveling with extended family or for extra privacy and full house access) and is usually less expensive than a hotel. You can often use the kitchen and laundry, and occasionally the yard. My favorite part about it, however, is getting to experience real life in the city I’m traveling to. Experiencing personal hospitality, the unique personality of each host, and the city and family culture in which we are staying is priceless. I’ve enjoyed garden fresh vegetables and forest views, amazing vegan waffles for breakfast, farm-fresh eggs, impromptu folk music, wonderful local recommendations, and so many meaningful conversations. I count it a privilege to meet and interact with such a wide variety of people, and I highly recommend the experience. If you are interested in checking it out, you can get $40 off your first trip by clicking HERE. And feel free to ask me any questions you may have about Airbnb. We have used it exclusively for travel since discovering it a little over a year ago and I love talking about it!}

We had a blast on our trip. On Friday morning, we went to a Nordic Approach cupping at the La Marzocco Showroom and Cafe. Everly enjoyed smelling and tasting coffees with me, and Remington and I loved the opportunity to experience a variety of excellent coffees from Costa Rica, Burundi, and Kenya. The hosts from Nordic Approach were friendly and knowledgeable, which made the experience even better. If you are looking for a green coffee bean supplier, you should check them out:

While at La Marzocco, we took the opportunity to try some coffee and espresso from their featured roaster, Tim Wendelboe. We collectively got both of the espresso options, as well as a Kenyan pour over, a cup of milk, and a chocolate chip cookie. It did not disappoint. We enjoyed both espressos, one a Columbian: sweet, rich, heavy, dried fruit, and an Ethiopian: bright, delicate, light, fruity. The pour over was also delightful, and Everly seemed to enjoy eating the cookie and blowing bubbles in the milk. The cup design stood out: a sleek, white finish and unique shapes. Each espresso came in a differently shaped mug, as did the coffee.

We went to Pike Place Market to enjoy the gorgeous 60 degree and sunny weather, as well as to eat some lunch. This was our first time in Seattle for more than a few hours, so we wanted to get something as notorious as Pike Place in our agenda. It was lovely and colorful and tasty and vibrant. A very fun experience.

On Friday evening, I went to the Coffee ON:Line meet up at Cherry Street Public House. Remington and the kids played around in the courtyard while I drank some incredible house-made Almond/Brazil Nut milk over ice and listened to thoughts on making coffee online from four successful coffee writers/designers/instagrammers. While not all of the information was interesting or applicable to me specifically, overall, there were some great points made and I left inspired.

Saturday was our day to watch the Championships. We started the morning with one and ones and a light breakfast from Cherry Street Coffee House, then watched the Barista Championship semi-finals. It was incredible. It was my first experience watching a coffee competition, and I was completely blown away. It’s so much more than just making drinks. The routines that we saw showed a deep understanding of the science and technical side of coffee: ratios, origins, grind, grams, tamping, flavor notes; and a great respect for the art and personal side of coffee: farmers, service, combining flavors, aesthetics, presentation, relationships. If you have never watched a competition before, you are missing out. I recommend looking up the recording of the competition. It inspired me. It expanded my view of what is possible with coffee and career and community. Plus, I would love to compete someday.

After the competition ended, we went to Cherry Street Public House for dinner and coffee with some friends who had also come up for the competition. Each of us ordered a different USBC winner specialty drink and had fun tasting each of them. After chatting for a while, we drove back home to Portland. It was a wonderful weekend experiencing a whole other side of coffee than I’ve seen before. It was encouraging and inspiring, and I met some great people building a career in coffee

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