Sunday, August 4, 2013

Coffee Worries

Melbourne has the most amazing coffee culture, with loads of cafes, roasters, and critics around the city. The European style feel of Melbourne, and the waves of European immigration throughout the twentieth century, led to Melbourne growing its coffee culture and making it one of the coffee capitals of the world. The city is filled with European trained baristas. In fact, the 2013 World Coffee Barista Championship was held in Melbourne. But shock, horror!!! The title went to an American, and Pete Licata from Kansas is the 2013 World Champion.

A Melburnian at least came second, Matt Perger of St Ali's going one better than his third place in 2011!

Goodfoods great shot of Matt Perger, one of Australia's best barista.

While Australia has usually been represented well in these World Championships, in fact only 1 Aussie has won the event compared to 2 Americans and 4 Danes, since the competition began in 2000. So with that in mind, and with only 43 days left before going to the USA on my roadtrip of a lifetime, my trepidation of leaving good coffee behind is slowly being eroded. I know that in some of the places I'll be going, coffee will not be barista style, but I actually quite like the strong filter coffee that comes in most American deli's and diners. I'm certainly going with an open mind when it comes to coffee, and food for that matter!

But what about Denmark? This small country (which I've never visited, though I've always wanted to) boasts 4 World Champion barista. They all come from the capital, Copenhagen, which must surely be one of the best places to drink coffee and watch the World go by. Currently, Australian GM David Smerdon is fighting for a high finish in the Politiken Cup which is being held in the Danish city of Helsingor. Those culture buffs among you might be interested to know that Helsingor, in its English spelling Elsinore, is the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet. Well, David has been playing pretty well, or at least he has been amassing a decent amount of points in his combative style. Currently, David is on 7/9 and is a pawn down against Robin van Kampen of the Netherlands. Both players sit in a group one point behind the leaders, GM's Parimarjan Negi and Sabino Brunello (who beat Smerdon in the last round). David has been writing a bit about his Danish tour on his blog and he has briefly analysed a fantastic game against chess legend Jan Timman.

Currently David is a pawn down in a double rook ending, which looks to my untrained eye as a difficult hold for him. But I'm hoping he'll draw the game. David is an excellent player, but certainly somewhat of a risk taker, which makes him a favourite here at Coffeehouse Chess.

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