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Baristas compete, providers ponder and you can eat

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You may think the barista who feeds your coffee jones at your favorite spot is the best, but they're countless hours away from that title unless they're one of the 46 competing in the Big Eastern Regional Coffee Competition this weekend.

See for yourself as the baristas compete against the clock to prepare and serve—take a deep breath here—four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature espresso beverages in under 15 minutes all under the unwavering gaze of four sensory judges, two technical judges and a head judge. No pressure there, right?

There is also a Brewers Cup competition that will feature 32 baristas all brewing the same coffee on the manual device of their choice. A blind tasting will advance some to a second round where they brew their chosen coffee for a panel of judges.

Enjoy the cups before they get to this condition at the Big Eastern Regional Coffee Competition at the Durham Convention Center. - FILE PHOTO BY JUSTIN COOK
  • File photo by Justin Cook
  • Enjoy the cups before they get to this condition at the Big Eastern Regional Coffee Competition at the Durham Convention Center.

In addition to the barista competitions there will be a variety of opportunities for you to learn about specialty coffees and to sample the work of local coffee roasters. Counter Culture, Octane Coffee and Slingshot Coffee Company are but a few of the roasters represented. The coffee aroma alone would be worth a visit!

This is one of three Super Regional coffee competitions taking place in the U.S. with baristas from across the Northeast and the Southeast taking part. Winners advance to the U.S. Barista Championship in Long Beach, California, this coming February. (The winner there moves on to world championship event in April in Seattle for the barista competition, while the brewers cup winner takes on the world in Sweden in June.) Counter Culture Coffee, along with brewing equipment company Wilbur Curtis, hosts the event at the Durham Convention Center.

Big Eastern Regional Coffee Competition, Friday, 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday, 8:15 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8:15 a.m.–3:30 p.m.; free, Durham Convention Center, 301 W. Morgan St., Durham.

Sustainability sessions

Hear from leaders in the field and connect with organizations devoted to the issue of food sustainability at FoodCon on Friday at UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Participants at the daylong conference range from local nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies. They're delving into topics such as food security, agriculture entrepreneurship, land and resource management, food policy and health and food and technology. Scott Nichols of Verlasso will speak about aquaculture and the dangers of over-fishing.

FoodCon 2014, Friday, 7:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m.; $15–$30, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, 300 Kenan Drive' Chapel Hill. www.mbafoodcon.com.

Stone Soup Supper

Ward off the chill Nov. 19 with a bowl of delicious soup. At the same time, you'll help those who need more than soup to survive this season. Urban Ministries of Wake County's 10th annual Stone Soup Supper features a dozen hand-crafted soups from some notable Raleigh chefs and it raises money to fight homelessness and hunger. Last year's event raised $35,000.

You can select from a menu that includes black bean soup with pico de gallo from Irregardless Café's Arthur Gordon; posole from Backyard Bistro's Joe Lumbrazo; South American shrimp chowder from The Chef Academy's Paul Sottile; seafood gumbo from the Marriott Crabtree Valley's Ron Salerno; butternut squash with pecan crème fraiche from Kamado Grille's Eric Gephardt; puree of apple and rutabaga with spiced pecans from Prestonwood Country Club's Scott Rowe; Thai coconut, butternut squash and shrimp from Margauxs Restaurant's Andrew Pettifer; and a "souprise" from Capital Club 16's Jake Wolf. There are also other options available.

Stone Soup Supper, Wednesday, 5 p.m.–7:30 p.m., White Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1704 Oberlin Road, Raleigh. www.urbanmin.org. Suggested donation of $8 for soup eaten onsite (under 12 $4 suggested) or $10 for each to-go quart of soup. Pottery from the Triangle Potters Guild will be available for $25 per piece.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Coffee, conferences and charity"

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