- Our Town
Espresso shots and Taser blasts — Bowen Island coffee wiz returns from Seattle competition
Downing a caffeine-rich shot of espresso barely makes Gino Rutigliano blink.
But when the owner of the Bowen Island Coffee Roasting Company was caught in the middle of a "robbery gone right" the night before competing in a Seattle espresso tournament, the ensuing adrenaline rush left him with more than just caffeine shakes.
Rutigliano and his wife had travelled to Washington state Oct. 3 after he was selected to compete at the 2013 America's Best Espresso Competition.
They spent the afternoon preparing the equipment for the espresso competition and taking more than a few sips of the caffeinated brew.
Afterwards, Rutigliano recalled popping over to a corner store to pick up groceries and some wine, when a man allegedly tried to make off with some goods.
One of the store workers would have none of it, according to coffee maestro, and the accused shoplifter was hit by a blast of electricity.
"I don't know if you've ever heard a Taser gun live, but these things are loud," Rutigliano said.
"You could see the blue, 50,000(-watt) bolts. It was really, really freaky."
The couple was ushered into the back of the store, while the worker carrying the Taser blocked the entrance until police showed up.
The coffee brewmaster said he eventually left the scene once authorities arrived, but "at that point, we were still frazzled."
And it didn't help that he had to defend his thrid-place title at the 2013 America's Best Espresso Competition while his body was still buzzing from all the caffeine and excitement.
"It was like 2:30 in the morning and I looked at my wife and we were both looking at the Space Needle, going, 'I can't sleep,'" Rutigliano said with a chuckle.
Sleep deprived and physically drained, he showed up a few hours later at the espresso showdown only to discover the computer programming that dictated the temperatures, speed and taste infusions for his coffee machine had been lost.
"So we had 15 minutes to try and reprogram and recreate what took us an hour and a half the day before," he said, adding he knew his espresso shot wasn't going to be the best representation of his craft.
"Basically I ran out of time."
But Rutigliano said the chance to rub shoulders with all his coffee peers made for a fantastic weekend.
"It's an international competition, so just being selected is a huge honour — placing is an even bigger honour," he said.
"I know for next year to be less lackadaisical and make sure that I get there early, make sure I get good sleep, make sure I stay away from robberies."