Gordon Bellaver, manager and part owner of Bull Run coffee shop at 34th and Lyndale, says his inspiration to start a Twin Cities Coffee Guild began one day several months ago when he was at another local coffee shop.
He ordered a caffeinated drink and the result was only okay--sure, he'd had worse, but he'd also had much better. "I wanted to offer some advice or tips," he recalls, "but I didn't want to be 'that guy.' "[jump]
What's resulted, so far, is a website, www.twincitiescoffeeguild.com, intended to be a hub for coffee information in the Twin Cities. Belaver says he was inspired by the site Minneapolis Bike Love, which functions as an online community of local cycling enthusiasts. He saw a similar need to harness the energy in the coffee community among roasters, technicians, baristas, equipment providers, and anyone who loves to brew and drink java, and have all parties share their knowledge. "The Twin Cities scene is evolving," Bellaver says. "More people are starting to recognize good-quality coffee, and the community is kind of exploding."
The Coffee Guild's site includes blog posts about visits to local shops, job postings, general coffee talk, and event listings. Bellaver hopes to organize everything from educational classes about roasting beans or pouring espresso to barista bike rides touring various shops.
Ideally, he says, when he he generates enough interest he'd like to see the Guild develop into a more structured nonprofit. He'd like to see the Guild serve as a place for baristas to educate themselves more about coffee and discuss ideas, as well as discourage cliques. (Before moving to Minnesota about a year ago, Bellaver worked at Intelligencia in Chicago, a city where he says the baristas tend to stick to their own shops.)
Bellaver himself is a talented practitioner of latte art and recently won Bull Run's spring "throwdown." He plans to have the Guild sponsor a latte art throwdown every quarter, passing around a trophy to winners to display in their shops.
The next throwdown is scheduled for Sunday, October 2, at 4 p.m. at Blue Ox Coffee Company--a dual-city competition, with baristas in Chicago simultaneously conducting their own throwdown. Each city's winners will tweet their photos to judges, who will decide the latte art grand champion.