SprudgeLive’s coverage of the 2015 Big Central Regional Barista Competition is made possible by direct support from the event’s hosts, Wilbur Curtis Company and Cafe Imports. All of SprudgeLive’s 2015 barista competition coverage is underwritten in partnership with Square.
We’re proud to serve as official media partners of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
This is a recap of Day Two action at the 2015 Big Central Barista Competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota, happening November 7th-9th, 2014.
All photos are by Sprudge co-founder Zachary Carlsen for Sprudge.com. Want to use these photos? Please email us!
Information is compiled from the @SprudgeLive livetweet feed, as called by Sprudge co-founder Jordan Michelman.
Espresso notes for Mr. McCaslin: “jasmine, lilac, lavender, milk chocolate, passion fruit, raspberry jam, & peach.” As a cappuccino it’s “sweet vanilla cream, milk chocolate, and mixed berries.”
Sig drink for Mr. McCaslin: espresso, dark chocolate, peach nectar, Nekisse aeropress, ginger shrub, and “lavender caviar” — very complex and intriguing sig drink, but it has us over time…
Andrew McCaslin of @palacecoffee calls time at 15:57, narrowly escaping DQ.
“In specialty we’re always trying to get people to think about coffee differently” — honey, lemon, and blackberry elements are introduced by Mr. Soeder to his judges before any coffee is brewed.
This routine was structured around a gamble — building a complex signature drink to begin, including individual pouring service for each judge, Ryan Soeder used more than half of his allotted 15 minutes on this single course. A risky bit of time management, but if it pays off…
Ryan Soeder competes using Intelligentsia’s Homecho Waeno coffee from Ethiopia. The name means “peaceful area” in Amharic.
There’s some Prince in Ryan Soeder’s soundtrack, appropriately enough for an event being held in Minneapolis.
Espresso notes: “honey, lemon, blackberry — with a tactile sensation of light, crisp, puckering finish.”
Ryan Soeder calls time at 14:57.
Mr. Carey is the owner / operator of @sumpcoffee in St. Louis, one of the most fiercely individual and unique coffee bars in America right now. He’s competing at #bigcentral with a coffee from Ixhuatlan, Mexico. Learn more.
As an espresso that Ixhuatlan’s got “dark milk chocolate and caramelized orange citrus” notes., with “cherry cinnamon, like a red hot candy” crema and a body with “a little bit of fudge.” Those are really evocative descriptors.
Signature drink includes espresso shots passed through an Aeropress “to remove the crema.”
Unfortunately we’re over the 16 minute time limit here from Mr. Carey, who’s clearly disappointed with the outcome. Sometimes DQ performances can still be highly enjoyable from an aesthetic audience perspective, and this was one of those.
A perennial competitor, it’s been a pleasure for us to watch Matthew Scott and the team at Lemonjello’s Coffee in Holland, Michigan grow and approve over the last several years. Their solid partnership with MadCap Coffee has been an important part of this, and that’s on display here at Big Central.
Mr. Scott was the first–and only–competitor of the weekend to play music from Taylor Swift’s new record. He’s also using milk from the excellently named MOO-ville Dairy in Michigan. The combination of these elements caused us to lose it basically on Twitter.
Matthew Scott calls time at 15:05.
David Buehrer began this routine with what in retrospect was the quote of the weekend at Big Central:
“I think it’s time to redefine what a barista means. For me, it’s more like a coffee engineer.” – David Buehrer.
It’s a TG Labs Guatemalan coffee being used by Mr. Buehrer here, yielding “cedar and vanilla extract” aroma and “citrus-like acidity, dried apricot, and dark chocolate” notes as espresso. As a cappuccino there’s “rich cocoa.”
A challenging and interesting signature drink from Mr. Buehrer, inspired by his love of amaro: a decoction of herbal aromatics, oligosaccharide, and “heavy” espresso, extracted at a dense concentration specifically for this drink.
David Buehrer calls time at 15:19.
Espresso notes: “citrus acidity like mandarin…sparkling white grape juice…sweet chocolatey body.”
Cappuccino notes: “milk chocolatey sweetness…where the citrus takes a step back to make room for that body.” Makin’ room for that body, aw yeah.
Notes from both the espresso and cappuccino course reappear in Mr. Juarez-Martinez’ signature drinks, which include white sparkling grape juice, citrus, ganache & espresso.
Hernan Juarez-Martinez calls time at 15 flat.
Christian Ott is one of three competitors on the weekend from Stone Creek Coffee in Minneapolis — the most fielded by any one company at Big Central.
Espresso notes: “strawberry preserves, caramel…cashew and rhubarb.”
Cappuccino notes: “caramel flavor and a sweet cashew body.”
Hard to declare any one set the winner for this one, but Christian Ott may have delivered our personal favorite soundtrack of the weekend, including “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie and “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder.
This signature drink features espresso, panna cotta, and caramel, stirred together to create “a beautiful amalgamation of flavor notes.”
Christian Ott calls time at 14:35.
Kicking things off with a cool signature drink, Mr. Barr tells his judges “I apologize for an iced beverage, but in Texas we wear shorts in December.” He’s serving an El Salvador Red Bourbon coffee from Ruby Roasters.
Capps from Mr. Barr have notes of “cherry and butterscotch” — short, sharp shots playing nice with milk.
“Thinking about doing a signature beverage was hard for me because I don’t like anything but coffee!”
Signature drinks pair that El Salvador espresso with honey and orange juice. Mr. Barr calls time at 15:40.
There were technical problems (not technical time-outs, however), time management issues, and a general lack of self-assuredness throughout this routine.
Sig drink for Andy Gilman: juniper & gin aromatics, citrus peels, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from @CafeImports, shaken.
Mr. Gilman calls time at around the 20 minute mark, well over his 16 minute time limit. He becomes the third DQ of the weekend here at Big Central .
This routine featured one of our favorite scripts of the weekend. “In our shop, not all customers are US Coffee Championships judges,” Mr. Kegley tells the judges. “We face consumers with very wide tastes.”
Mr. Kegley competes using a washed coffee from Finca Idolia in Guatemala — bourbon and catuai varieties. Take some home.
As an espresso, Idolia’s got “pine and brown sugar in the aroma, tart cherries in the cup.” As a cappuccino look for “honey and almond” tasting notes.
sig drink for Mr. Kegley is called the “Batch 1173″: a riff on Old Tom Gin Fizz. That means brown sugar and espresso over ice–done intentionally to “shock” the shot into a sour taste profile. This mixture is the, shaken, to which he adds soda and a sprig of rosemary.
Lipids, particle manipulation, pre-ground Mahlkonig EK43 shots — there’s lots going on here. Mr. Kegley calls time at 14:58.
Mr. Alford is serving two distinct coffees in this routine from Finca El Diamante, in the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala, as roasted by Tweed Coffee in Dallas. Check it out and take some home.
El Diamante cappuccinos taste like “chocolate & buttered pecan.” His espressos have “cherry & almond on the nose, luxardo candied cherries, and a lingering key lime finish.”
We got very excited about the script, presentation, and general smoothness of Gregory Alford’s whole deal on our live Twitter feed. This was one of the most entertaining routines to watch all weekend.
Mr. Alford’s sig drink: tonic, black cherry juice, El Diamante espresso at room temperature, and a blowtorched Toddy iced cube.
Gregory Alford calls time at 15:40.
Mr. Wojton competes using perhaps *the* iconic coffee in MadCap Coffee’s annual catalogue, from producer Luis Reinoso. Learn more here.
“Almond croissant, creme brulee, and a finish of milk chocolate” in this Reinoso cappuccinos. The coffee’s got “tart cherry, kiwi citrus, herbaceous…with a smooth, buttery mouthfeel” as espresso, served in a snifter. “I’m literally putting this coffee on a pedestal.”
“Everybody loves a cappuccino.” –Ryan Wojton.
Sig drink for Mr. Wojton includes licorice root, star anise, lemon rind, honey, NA bitters, espresso, and sparkling water.
Did you know that Ryan Wojton is a first-time competitor? And that he only found out about his competition slot a few weeks ago? And that due to travel and timing constraints, his first run-thru was less than a week ago? These are all true facts about Ryan Wojton.
Ryan Wojton calls time at 14:55.
Nora Brady competes here at Big Central with Blueprint Coffee’s Ethiopia Chiri — take some home. She’s returning to the competition stage here in the 2015 season after advancing all the way to the 2014 United States Barista Championship Finals, where she placed 6th in the country.
Nora Brady is a partner at Blueprint Coffee, a St. Louis microroaster that’s co-owned by around a half a dozen coffee professionals.
Ethiopia Chiri espressos: “Almond sweetness, cherry, apricot, honey. and a glycerine mouthfeel.”
“I continue my love of coffee because I continue to get blown away by complex cups.” — Nora Brady.
This was probably the most interesting signature drink of the weekend, “inspired by the earth”, and featuring barrel aged vetiver root water, dried cherry & honey jam, and dehydrated date ash.
Nora Brady calls time at 14:45.