Coffee Wars 5: The Complete Story

The road to Coffee Wars 5 was a long and twisty one. The two biggest pre-war discussions revolved around the shirts, and how much of a hassle to give Rob about whether or not he was going to be there this year. There was much work done on graphic arts, for posters, and for the shirts. There was lively debate. There were jokes. There were plans. There were discussions with other folks. There were e-mails traded with potential contestants, with goons, and with complete strangers. We had many things, my friends, but we lacked the one thing we crave the most: coffee.

And so it was that on the day before the con, all the pieces had been put in place, thanks to a great deal of cunning and hard work on the part of many:

  • The Coffee Wars gear was on its way to Vegas from the official Coffee Arsenal, in the custody of Shrdlu
  • The Judges were on their way to Vegas, via various modes of transport
  • BlackBeetle had arranged a lovely color layout in the con program, as well as a space in the contest area
  • An official announcement had been distributed to a number of e-mail lists, so that prospective contestants could get their beans together
You'd think that at this point, all the hard stuff had been done. But nooooooooo...

Everyone arrived-- so far, so good-- but there were some logistical troubles. It seemed that this year DefCon traded promptness for execution. By the time CoffeeWars got underway, most everything was running late: registration, speaker badges, and entry into the contest room were all obstacles. Although these things all seemed disconcerting to a coffee-deprived staff, none of them wound up being a problem, and everything wound up going smoothly.

The war itself is a hectic scene, as is to be expected from a battlefield. Lots of stuff happens simultaneously: entries, questions, purchase of shirts, and (lest it be forgot) grinding, brewing, drinking, and voting.

There were some unexpected highlights, which bear mentioning:

  • John Galt was there! For, like, six years I have wanted to shake hands with that guy, and he actually entered some damn coffee! Yay!
  • In an incredible double-header of good coffee fortune, both DT and Priest managed to swing by the table during the contest and get a cup of coffee. Usually, when things are done, one or the other (or both) will be all sad that they missed out, but this year we got lucky.
  • I think we actually managed to give coffee to all the contestants who could hang around, and also the goons who were managing the room... never hurts to cultivate goodwill with the goons.
  • We planned well enough that we didn't run out of entry forms, judging forms, or water. In past years, all three have been a problem.
Let's see. What else have we managed to achieve? Five gallons of liquid consumed. Sixteen entries, and only one disqualification (for shame, Sera White: flavored beans). Saw some old friends. Made some new friends. And we sold shirts-- proceeds were donated to the EFF.

DefCon maintained a live-update ticker on the Alexis Park TVs this year, and we gave a couple updates, to make it look like we had our act together. Meanwhile we were furiously tabulating the 112 ballots (with six votes per ballot, for a mindbending 672 actual votes) and calculating our scoring metrics.

Vann Harl once again volunteered to donate the grand prize, which is a much-appreciated gesture. When we realized the winner was going to be someone who, well, won the same prize last year, we printed up a commeorative t-shirt as well.

Then it was time for the awards ceremony. Foofus and MadHat did the honors, and Hook did the accepting, for the second year in a row. CoffeeWars 5 had come to an end, and it was time for us all to reflect on the event, and the powerful effects it has on us all.

So take a breah, shut your eyes, and ponder the profundity of Coffee Wars.

OK. That's all till next year.

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