This is a big weekend for Boston, and I’m not talking about the thousands of runners descending on the city for its famed marathon, which takes place next Monday. No, I’m talking about the three, I repeat three, coffee competitions occurring in the city.
So what exactly are these caffeinated contests?
At the United States Barista Championship, baristas who have won regional championships across the country duke it out at the national level, preparing and serving an espresso, a cappuccino, and a signature drink of their own creation to four "sensory judges"—all in under fifteen minutes.
The Cup Tasters Championship, meanwhile, has the contestants do the drinking. They sip back eight sets of three coffee-cups, and each set has two cups of the same coffee and one miss-fit. Whoever correctly identifies the most outliers in the shortest amount of time becomes the champion. Sound difficult? It is, and it tests the participants' ability "to smell, taste, recall and concentrate," according to the event description.
And lastly, there’s the Brewers Cup, which celebrates the "art of manual coffee brewing." Competitors first brew the same cup of coffee, and whoever advances to the next round must then brew and present their own coffee. Judges score based on taste and presentation, and the winner will represent the United States at the World Brewers Cup Championship in Melbourne, Australia.
The three competitions are being held in tandem at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and are co-sponsored by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. With so many coffee beans being ground in one weekend, Boston may actually merit the name Beantown for once.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo of 2012 U.S. Barista Champion Katie Carguilo by Liz Clayton
For this month’s weekly series on immersive culinary courses, we’re transporting you to the foodie mecca of Vietnam. Still hungry? Check out our April food issue’s Global Guide to Cooking Schools.
The School: The Hanoi Cooking Centre, located near the city’s Old Quarter, offers hands-on, half-day lessons on everything from the flavor-rich dishes of the northern highlands to the seafood-centric specialties of the country’s southern coast.
The Class: Sign up for Vietnamese Street Food, a course that teaches students how to whip up their own pho cuon (fresh noodle spring rolls) and green pawpaw salad, among other delicacies from the streets of Hanoi.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Jay-Z's "Open Letter" says all it takes to go to Cuba is an OK from the President, but CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg isn't about to let you believe it. Over on his blog, he sets the record straight for those who aren't buddies with the First Family (or prefer to do things legally). (Nikki Ekstein)
In 2011, Delta made headlines by axing expiration dates on SkyMiles, the airline’s frequent flier mileage program. Last month, the carrier garnered some less friendly press with a slight addendum to its no-expiration policy: The miles don’t expire…until the mileage holder does.
Prior to the March 20 announcement, SkyMiles could transfer to next of kin, but as NBC reported, such transactions are no longer permitted by Delta. Frequent fliers are unsurprisingly displeased at the policy change, and have even started an online petition against it.
But not all the heat should fall on Delta. JetBlue, Southwest, and United all have similar restrictions. Meanwhile, a slew of other airlines, including Alaska, American Airlines, and US Airways allow miles earned to transfer after death.
Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly Singley has countered any criticism by noting that SkyMiles reward those who have directly participated in the program and showed loyalty to the airline.
Frequent Flier's Tim Winship explained the main takeaway to NBC: “The lesson there is don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you’re sitting on a huge cache of frequent flier miles because tomorrow the program that you earned those miles in could make some kind of an enormous systemic change that pulls the rug out from under the value of those miles.” How comforting.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Think solar-powered airplanes are the talk of futurists? Not really. Solar Impulse, a company started by two innovative engineers, has been flying by the power of the sun since 2010, when it accomplished an incredible 26-hour flight without an ounce of fuel. Their plane, covered in solar panels across the length of its 208-foot wingspan, is now embarking on a new mission, criss-crossing America to raise awareness for sustainable energy.
The journey begins on May 1, with stops in San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and New York. But keep an eye out for open houses, where guests will be able to check out the plane in all its high-tech glory at various airports (the first is tentatively slated for next Saturday at Moffett Federal Airfield, in San Francisco).
As for the company’s next goal? A flight around the world, currently scheduled for 2015.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Monocle, the London-based magazine of global affairs and style, is as well known for its in-depth articles about far-flung destinations as for its clean, smart look. For both those things, it's a magazine meant to be read as much as be seen with—whether on the plane, or displayed on your (designer) coffee table. Now, the six-year-old publication wants to be known for the taste of its coffee. On April 15, The Monocle Café is set to open in London's Marylebone neighborhood, promising customers a very Monocle-like experience. (Read: posh, international, and very, very stylish.)
The Monocle Café occupies two stories at 18 Chiltern Street and was designed by the same team that created the sharp, classic look of the magazine. The Café features coffee from Allpress, a menu designed by chef Masayuki Hara, and a soundtrack provided by Monocle 24, the magazine's radio station. This being Monocle—where a little exclusivity goes a long ways—subscribers are invited to rent the space out for private parties.
If you're reading this, chances are you're a fan of Travel + Leisure and our sibling publications, Food & Wine and Departures. Now, all three publications are teaming up with Celebrity Cruises to turn passengers into expert travelers.
American Express Publishing and Celebrity Cruises are proud to announce a collaboration that will provide Celebrity's guests with insider facts, travel tips, and amazing finds from around the world thanks to Celebrity's Global Insiders, a group of experts in everything from food to fashion.
Meet Celebrity's Global Insiders:
° Kate Betts, an award-winning magazine editor and the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style. Betts is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure and Time and was previously the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, and the fashion news director of Vogue. ° Julia Dimon, a journalist, TV correspondent for Outside Today, and nationally syndicated columnist. Dimon has been featured as a travel expert on ABC, NBC, MSNBC and in The New York Times, among other publications. ° Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, a company specializing in luxury travel experiences. He appears on the Travel + Leisure A-List and is one of the most influential travel advisors in the U.S. ° Marc Murphy, executive chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants, Landmarc and Ditch Plains, as well as Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy. Murphy also is a judge on Food Network’s top-rated show, Chopped. ° Alisa Ng, founder and CEO of L-atitude.com, a curated online marketplace for travel and fashion enthusiasts. Ng launched the site in 2010, and it has since become an e-commerce partner for Travel + Leisure, and was included in “Best of the Web” features in InStyle, Departures and Town & Country. ° Adam Sachs, a freewheeling travel, food and lifestyle writer. Sachs is a contributing editor for Travel + Leisure and Bon Appetit, and also writes for GQ, Details, and T, among other publications.
T+L's editors will also be creating destination guides packed with details and information about Celebrity's worldwide destinations. The destination guides will cover 150 of Celebrity Cruises’ ports of call and include insider tips, local hidden gems, and “must see” experiences at each destination. Celebrity will feature the content on its web site, in brochures, and onboard.
Both foodies and real estate obsessives are eyeing the emerging PoHo area of Sheung Wan, where minimalist-chic bakery Po’s Atelier($) showcases celeb chef Masami Asano’s loaves, made with such ingredients as oolong tea and Yunnanese ham and goat cheese.
Nearby, the team responsible for yakitori spot Yardbird have opened Ronin($$$), a seafood-focused izakaya with more than 50 Japanese whiskies and just 14 first-come, first-serve seats.
The Salted Pig($$$) celebrates all things porcine in a convivial space in Central filled with bloggers snapping pics of sous vide pork belly.
Singaporean hotelier Yenn Wong pairs up with London’s Jason Atherton at tapas joint 22 Ships(pictured; $$$), in Wan Chai. There’s always a wait—but that means more time to ogle the beautiful people nibbling on squid paella and truffled egg with celeriac.
Restaurant Pricing Key $Less than $25 $$$25 to $75 $$$$75 to $150 $$$$More than $150