Ashlind McAshan has passion… and can talk. I just had to write a brief post commenting on our conversation.

On June 22 of this year a thread was started on www.coffeed.com tittled “Starbucks throws down in Texas”, mostly speculating on all sorts of things regarding an SBUX employee who was to compete at a southcentral regional barista competition. By the way congradulations Patrick, Clancy and Jason.

I got a random call a few weeks ago from a girl who left a voice mail saying “thanks for sticking up for me online”. I wasn’t able to connect the dots until a future phone conversation. She figured there might be some controversy on behalf of her employer, but NOT from the industry. She discovered this to be the case two months after the fact while surfing around on line.

She has since made it to the south eastern regional barista competition.

Click here for pictures of south east competition

Click here for pictures of south central.
Look for the green apron.

I think SBUX is a wonderfull company, but I don’t blame them at all for not getting involved in barista competitions or sponsoring. However I am always impressed when someone takes initiative independantly as Ashlind has. Not having access to a manual machine she had no way to practice. As noted in parenthesis in the pics above she was competing out of region… or “auditing” as I understand it. Ashlind has travelled from Texas to Florida and back on her own dime NOT TO PLACE, BUT TO LEARN.

Congradulations on your efforts Ashlind. Press on!

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I occasionally get requests for this and although they exist in Guate, you probably don’t want it. A well processed natural calls for slightly drier climate or a controlled mechanical drying. As we dry everything on the patio we need to get lucky with a solid week of exceptionally strong sun to handle this. There are still 2 greater reasons why not to buy naturals from Guate.

photograph taken by Mike Garber

Naturals at FVH

1. I think it’s illegal. I think all exports must be “CLEAN COFFEES”

2. If you dried it adequately and gave it good drymilling/processing that yielded a nice “looking” bean it probably still tastes fermented and or grainy and grassy. Why? The only naturals I’ve ever seen are the result of sifting off the floaters in the first water tank before depulping and some of this is nice because it is a cherry that has only 1 bean in it, BUT IS NOT A PEABERRY. The other parchment/mucilage shell inside is hollow, thus it floats. However most floaters float because of other internal defect, or most likely it is simply overfermented and clearly appears it as the skin has already begun to shrivel and dry up like a raisin. This means although it maybe remains connected to the plant it is no longer in growth mode receiving nutrients, rather it is dying ON the tree. The other natural coffees found in Guate tend to be under ripes. Whether this was picked accidentally or on purpose, sorting them out is easy, and the taste is poor, so everyone ensures they’re not part of the “export” coffee. If you’re cup ever tastes like wheat grass… this is probably why.