Boomtown and A 2nd Cup Win Crush the Rush!

La Marzocco USA hosted its new barista competition "Crush The Rush" last night at Katz Coffee HQ here in Houston.  Eight teams of three baristas each raced against each other to complete eight drinks as fast as possible. 


A judge was situated behind each espresso machine to ensure espresso shots were falling within the specified parameters, and judges were also placed at a presentation table to give the yes or no on the quality of each beverage.  Mugs had to be wiped clean of drips and filled within 4mm from the top.  Milk foam had to be high quality enough to show latte art on top.


The Boomtown/A 2nd Cup team (named Hugs and Mugs) comprised of Chris Porto (Boomtown), Megan Milstead (A 2nd Cup) and Kyle Ng (A 2nd Cup).  Here's what Chris had to say about strategy going into the event and his takeaways:

"We were the last ones to go up in the first round, so we had the advantage of watching how other teams were setting up their bars.  With that info we tried to come up with a lot of strategy, but when it was our turn to go up it all kind of went out the window!  Luckily, I think we all just reverted to how we work on the bar regularly and the instincts took over.  We kept telling each other to take our time because having to remake a drink seemed to be the biggest setback.

Baristas like to do latte art throwdowns pretty often as a way to test our skills and bring the community together.  Crush the Rush was an awesome way to simulate other barista tasks.  Making high quality drinks is one skill, but things like communication, workflow design, multitasking, and problem solving were really on display from all the incredibly talented baristas in Houston. 

The team from Inversion was crazy fast--their workflow was top notch and I was really impressed watching how well they blazed through the orders.  Blend In always kills it and it seems like they're always training/learning/getting better so they were an intimidating opponent, but definitely the nicest guys as well!  I also want to say that it was a pleasure to compete against the team from White Rhino (a shop in Cedar Hill, about 10 minutes south of Dallas).  They drove all the way down to come compete and they were so genuinely kind and happy to cheer along with all the Houston kids (and they were super fast as well!).  Nice meeting y'all!" -Chris

The camaraderie felt in the Houston coffee scene is really special.  It's fun to compete and test each other, but the most important thing is seeing old and new faces brought together by coffee. Let's do this again soon!"

Incredible photos (and coaching) by Ashley Lai: