Some things that look easy, really are NOT easy. Take the job of a barista. The good ones, and in Chicago there lots of good ones, make a pourover look simple. And, it doesn't even matter what method they use. I have seen baristas all over town wield a Chemex like a well oiled machine. The level of coffee quality our local troupe of baristas can extract using a V60 is beyond categorization.

It was against this backdrop that I offered up a sawbuck for my entry into the Joker's Wild Brewdown as part of the second anniversary celebration at Chicago coffee roaster Passion House . The party included a cast of local coffee regulars who I have met and who now seem to know me and the photos I have been taking in their amazing coffee shops. But, let's get to all this barista talk, shall we?

The party entertainment was a brewdown. The rules were, well, let's say they were simple: a playing card corresponded to one of several brew methods. Among the cards was the eponymous Joker -- the party's namesake. The contestant who drew the Joker got to choose his/her own brew method and assign the other brewers to methods. Spoiler Alert: I pulled the Joker in Round 1. After joking that one participant should use an old Mr. Coffee and another had to brew through his sock, I gave away French Press (I hate those), Hario (it looks like the Tin Man's hat to me) , the aeropress (looks like Austin Powers' man enhancer) and the V60 (seemed too easy) and gave myself the Chemex. I chose it because I had always want to try one and because I thought it woudl be easy.

I am a fool.

The fun started when I first couldn't figure out the scale (Tare, you idiot, Dan, push Tare) and then after grinding my coffee (not sure I got the right grind), I spilled part of the coffee onto the table beneath the grinder. D'oh. I was laughing as the others around me advised me on proper weight, water temperature and how long I should brew. Additional spoiler alert, I do this all by feel at home and mostly like my pourovers. But, and this gets back to my barista point, I make one per day, at most.

Through some form of miracle, I ended up with coffee that looked just like coffee, smelled like coffee, and (here comes the best part), tasted like a delicious cup of coffee. Sadly, I didn't make it out of the first round, but, hey, better to have poured and lost than never to have poured at all.

The winner was my new coffee friend, Jen Chen of Gaslight and Caffentures.

Next time you order a pourover make sure you watch the craft of your server. There is a lot of skill involved in making you that cup of coffee. Now I know.