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Thursday, April 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 37.0° F  A Few Clouds


Barista Camp comes to Wisconsin
Johnson Public House celebrates with after-party and Stumptown Coffee cupping

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The Barista Guild of America is holding its 2013 Barista Camp over June 3-5 at the Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan. It will be the first time the national event is being held in Wisconsin.

The three-day camp is primarily for coffee professionals who seek level I or II barista certification. It also features panels and lectures focused on the direction of the specialty coffee market.

"The camp is an easy way to get a certification in three days," says Trevor Gruehn of Bradbury's and Johnson Public House.

Gruehn, who has been in the coffee industry in Madison for the past eight years, is a certified lead instructor and will be teaching classes on basic coffee technique as well as latte art at Lake Lawn.

Last month, Gruehn participated in the national U.S. Barista Championship held in Boston; he was one of roughly forty competitors, achieving his slot after becoming a regional finalist earlier in the year in a competition in Kansas City. His sponsor was Viroqua's Kickapoo Coffee roasters.

"Certification is becoming more widespread," notes Gruehn. "It is definitely starting to mean more on a resume. Especially if you want to consult." In addition to his work with Bradbury's and Johnson Public House -- where his duties include purchasing beans -- Gruehn currently works with Kickapoo Coffee as well as consults for roasters, cafes and restaurants.

Gruehn divides U.S. coffee history into three waves. The first wave was post-World War II commodity coffee such as the canned varieties still available from typical grocery store shelves. The second wave was a reaction to this canned corporate coffee, and included fair trade sources, syrups and the heavy use of milk. This second wave was not necessarily technique-driven, and often employed dark roasting to hide flaws in the beans.

The current coffee wave, the third, is distinguished by emphasis on quality and technique. It is marked by carefully sourcing beans from single origins, lighter roasting to retain flavor complexity and attention to seasonality of beans. At Johnson Public House, Gruehn purchases beans from five or more roasters from around the country -- including Kickapoo Coffee and Chicago-based Intelligentsia -- to maintain the freshness and quality faithful to these third wave tenets.

On June 5 following Barista Camp, Johnson Public House will host a public after-party at 7 p.m. featuring head-to-head latte art competitions, music by Milwaukee's barista-DJs Wax Addicts and cocktails by Madison bartender Grant Hurless.

On June 6, Gruehn will host a public "cupping," or sampling, of coffee from the cult Portland, Oregon, coffee company Stumptown Coffee -- which is new to the Madison market via Johnson Public House.

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