Coffee Conspiracy

Adding Insult to Injury

This means war.

By Sam Holder March 23, 2009

This story stinks like burnt Sanka.

A couple weeks ago, we reported on the devastating blow delivered to Portland at the US Barista Championship. The judges, in their supreme wisdom, passed on our boy–wonder Alex Pond of Fresh Pot, and crowned some guy from Chi–town’s Intelligentsia Coffee.

Whatever. We dealt with it. And moved on.

But there was a nagging concern: with Intelligentsia’s baristas hogging two thirds of the final slots, the deck seemed stacked. I mean, yeah, their cappuccino foam looks like the manmade palm islands in Dubai, but still. How many coffeehouses exist? At least 94758392912. And that’s just in Portland. So forgive our suspicions—they’re not baseless. Even so, after some grumbling and a few habanero–infused vodka cocktails, our frustrations receded from a boiling rage to a passive–aggressive simmer.

No more. Our fury is once again as black and molten–hot as the beverage in question.

According to The New York Times, Intelligentsia’s unabashed desire to squash P–town isn’t limited to that fateful afternoon at the Oregon Convention Center. Our beloved Stumptown blend is being replaced at the premier Manhattan coffee bistro, Ninth Street Espresso … by Intelligentsia’s new grind, Alphabet City Blend. The shop’s proprietor, Kenneth Nye, is a bit too careful to dole out praise for our P–town crown jewel: “Stumptown is a very cool and unique company and they roast good coffee, period.”

I don’t know about you, but I can picture a sweaty, greasy–haired gorilla of an Intelligentsia rep holding Mr. Nye’s face inches above a coffee hotplate while whispering in a hushed but violent tone, "what kind of espresso will you be serving again? What? I can’t quite hear you…" I mean, c’mon, it is a Chicago–based company. Perhaps it was Blagojevich. He’s unemployed.

Maybe we’re being harsh. But taking a bi–coastal hit (in the same month) from one company is unacceptable. It hurts our pride. Coffee is to Portland as jazz is to N’Orleans. And, despite Intelligentsia’s success, we’re not going to be blown back on our heels. We’re going to do what people do when they’ve been wronged, yet are discretely lazy about their rage: we’re starting a Facebook group.

So here’s to the international coffee community spanking Intelligentsia at the Global Barista Competition in April. And, if you feel the need to support the cause, just type in "Stumptown Goes Postal" in the Facebook search bar, and join our fledgling coffee crusade.

Filed under
Show Comments