2015 Big Western Barista Competition: Day Two Recap

Welcome to Sprudge’s daily recap of the 2015 Big Western Barista Competition, happening in Palm Springs, California from October 8th-10th, 2014. We’re proud to serve as Official Media Partners of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the organization that produces these extraordinary events.

This coverage includes information taken from our all-day madcap LiveTweet channel, covering global barista competitions in a play-by-play format since 2012. Follow @SprudgeLive on Twitter for live coverage from Palm Springs.

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13. Nicholas Rodriguez, Makai Coffee, Long Beach @makaicoffeeLB

The first competitor of the day here at is Nicholas Rodriguez, representing Makai Coffee in Long Beach, CA.

Mr. Rodriguez is competing with an Ethiopian coffee from the Borboya washing station — “Ancient heirloom varietals.” Notes for his espressos include “sweet lemon and lavender, carried by lush flavors of oolong and green tea”. Like several competitors throughout the day Mr. Rodriguez is competing with the Mahlkonig EK43 grinder.

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Signature beverage: “Shaken cocktail served up” with lemon juice, lavender simple syrup, espresso, oolong tea. He calls time at 15:54.

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14. Sheli Maciel, Allegro Coffee Company, Thornton, CO @allegrocoffee 

There is a healthy Colorado contingent at this year’s –last year there was just one barista competitor!

Ms. Maciel competes with a Salvadoran coffee grown by the inimitable and roasted by . As espresso it has “bright acidity w/ grapefruit…plum, tamarind, and tart cherry acidity.”

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How about a sig drink? This one takes espresso, cascara syrup, and ice, then topped w/ sparkling water – she’ll scoop the resulting Co2 foam before serving to the judges.

We at Sprudge sincerely enjoyed the bumping vibe-out jazz flute house music in Sheli Maciel’s  soundtrack. She calls time at 15:40.

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15. Harlin Glovacki, Nom De Plume Roasters, Phoenix @nomdeplumeroast

Mr. Glovaki’s work here at  happens with a Kenya Nyeri espresso, comprised of the classic SL-28 & 34 Kenya coffee varieties. That’s described as having “pomegranate acidity, ginger molasses, and a deep spicy cardamom finish” as espresso, which is a delicious set of tasting notes.

Hey here’s an interesting signature drink: rose gel rim, sugar & smoked salt, citric acid, North African spices, luxardo cherry, and Kenyan espresso.

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Raw milk from Arizona in Mr. Glovaki’s capps — he’s one of several competitors bringing in their own milk at , but Harlin Glovaki met the cows, people. There was a cow meeting that happen during the selection of this milk.

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16. Jon Dail, Portola Coffee Lab, Anaheim @portolacoffee @_donjail

Mr. Dail competes here at with a washed coffee from the Kochere wet mill in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia: “Grape, apricot sweetness…lime acidity, and in the finish, and hops.” For capps Mr. Dail is using ‘s Barista Series milk.

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“Hopped coffee shots” in ‘s signature drink, which includes chilled, filtered pine syrup infused espresso. Shout outs from Mr. Dail’s post-routine interview include The Haters, , the Perg Tamp, Jesus Christ, & his parents.

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17. Ryan Fisher, Commonwealth Coffee, Denver @commonwealthDEN

Mr. Fisher placed third yesterday in the 2015 SW Brewers Cup. He’s competing here at Big Western with a washed Kenyan coffee, A popular choice so far this week. “Cherry liqueur, orange zest, and sweet spice” in Mr. Fisher’s first espresso sip — “sweet basil” in the 2nd sip.

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Brown sugar, basil, cascara, orange zest and espresso in Ryan Fisher’s signature drink. He calls time at 15:17.


18. Perry Czopp, Independent, Phoenix @TheCoffeeChop

A coffee trader told Mr. Czopp “You gotta look out for Costa Rica, man. They’re having a sick harvest.” This is not a paraphrase.

Bourbon, Caturra and Catuai varieties make up Mr. Czopp’s Costa Rica field blend, grown at 1800 MASL. “A little bit more of a lungo style” for Mr. Czopp’s espressos–20g in, 40g out yielding notes of “lemon citrus acidity, honey sweetness, roasted nut, and cacao bitterness.”


Non-alkaline organic cocoa, almond milk, local honey, sparkling water & espresso in Perry Czopp’s sig drink. He calls time at 15:28


19. Charles Babinski, Go Get Em Tiger, Los Angeles @charlesbabinski @ggetla 

Mr. Babinski is the reigning SW champion from 2014; he went on to place second in the United States. He’s here this year with a Honduran coffee from El Ocotillo — just a tiny little 3 hectare farm. At no point does Mr. Babinski mention this coffee’s roaster.

Sig drinks up first: Mr. Babinski matching his Honduras Ocotillo with pine tree honey, spiced juniper syrup & reduced grapefruit. Mixture of espresso & sig drink elements blended together for just the shortest second in an on-stage blender.


Heaps of ace quotes from this routine, portions of which are set to a peaceful nail salon soundtrack:

“Economically we need to be busy to survive…business ownership is to say the least eye-opening.”

“Think of pre-ground, pre-weighed coffee as a very fancy form of pod espresso-it means I have more time.”

“Coffee thrives on large scale systems.”

“There is no coffee that I would rather share with someone that an Ethiopian” — for the espresso course he switches to an Ethiopia Yirgacheffee.


20. Maxwell Mooney, Spotted Cow Coffee Co., Mill Creek, WA @MaxwellAMooney @spottedcowMC

What a quote to kick off this routine: “Hospitality is the art of transforming strangers and enemies into friends.” That’s beautiful!

First up, judges are looking for “Mulling spices and almond extract…smooth and juicy body, and honeycrisp apple” in Mr. Mooney’s Red Bourbon espressos.


This routine featured a fluke 5-7 minute technical timeout, a rarity in today’s modern barista competitions. Hiccups like this can be grueling but Mr. Mooney keeps his calm throughout, even doing a bit of joke telling to the audience and generally keeping sharp. Soon enough we’re back on track…


PUMPKIN LATTE SIGNATURE DRINK. PUMPKIN LATTE SIGNATURE DRINK. Mr. Mooney makes like a whole fancy pumpkin spice situation. There’s a pumpkin spice pearl. There’s espresso. It’s . No wait, it’s not just a pumpkin latte, these are like…spherified molecular pumpkin spice shooters.

It’s October. it’s . Maxwell Mooney is bringing some fall delight realness to the big stage.


21. Merilee Jones, MiiR, Seattle @miir

Merilee Jones is one of several Seattle-area competitors using coffee from , a popular local microroaster. She’s got “black-tea like body” and notes of panella in her espressos.

“I absolutely adore cappuccinos…there’s nothing like that first, pillowy sip.”


Sig drink from Merilee Jones: espresso, pickle brine, lime juice, sriracha, ice, poured into a cordial glass. Ingredients not traditionally seen in a signature drink include pickle juice and sriracha. How good is sriracha though right? I like the one where the rooster looks really angry.

Jones calls time at 15:02


22. David Loomis, Makai Coffee, Long Beach @makaicoffeeLB

Mr. Loomis’ espressos: “Notes of mineral lime, jammy fruit, and a hint of spice at the finish.” Judges are told to look for “a smooth, easy drinking, marshmallowy cappuccino.”


Sweet coconut milk, lime, strawberry syrup and espresso in Mr. Loomis’ sig drinks–a nod to his Hawaiian roots. He calls time at 15:02.


23. Christos Andrews, Neptune / Velton’s Coffee, Seattle christosandrews @neptunecoffee @veltonscoffee

“Mango, nectarine, and black tea” notes in espressos, introduced immediately to his judges. Cappuccinos with “orange zest and black tea” notes.


Sig drink from includes black tea simple syrup and a mango puree & nectarine vanilla drinking vinegar “caviar.” Oh and also “almond air” — almond milk and soy lecithen foam. You could call this a molecular gastronomy inspired sig drink, and you would be right.

He calls time at 15:26


24. Paul Johnson, Novo Coffee, Denver @novocoffee

This is an Ethiopian Kochere natural processed coffee from served by Mr. Johnson. Capp notes: “A nice creamy body with a great note of butterscotch and a subtle note of blackberry”


Molasses thinned with pineapple juice, almond extract, ice, Kochere espresso in Paul Johnson’s signature drink. He calls time at 14:52.

“Thank you all, I obviously love what I’m doing here.”


25. Brandon Paul Weaver, Slate Coffee, Seattle @coffeeandbookz @slatecoffee

“Today I want to take you on a historical journey across the globe to tell you the story of this coffee” –BPW is dropping some history knowledge in this routine, from the Dutch, the French, the colonies, Yemen, and a tiny island called off the coast of Madagascar called Bourbon…


Burundi-grown bourbon coffee roasted by Slate Coffee, hailing from the Ndava & Ngogoma washing stations.  Espresso notes from include “full, round… sweet, balanced — flavors of ripe cherry & salted dark chocolate.”

Brandon Paul Weaver was the 2013 NW Brewers Cup champion, back in the pre-open days of . Following his 2013 win we brewed with BPW and Nik Virrey in this infamous Vice-style feature.


“This coffee has literally been around the world…but the last stop on our journey is right here in Palm Springs.”

Signature drink incorporates tropical fruits & floral qualities: Jack fruit syrup, lightly shaken heavy cream w/ Bulgarian rose oil, layered together and served in beautiful glassware. Judges are instructed to finish the drink in 3 sips.


26. Stacy Wood-Burgess, Cafe Javasti / Batdorf & Bronson, Seattle @stacywburgess @batdorfcoffee


Stacy Wood-Burgess competes at with Batdorf & Bronson’s Guatemala Antigua Finca El Valle–take some home!

SWB on her capps: “Kind of like a candy bar…milk chocolate, caramel, and a tiny bit of spice”


Golden raisin, cinnamon stick & clove in ‘ sig drink, paired with espresso, French press, and ice. She calls time at 15:32.


27. Peter Newman, Kick Start Cafe, Redding, CA

“Grapefruit and lemongrass flavors” in Peter Newman’s espresso, turning into “malt and rye bread” in his cappuccinos.


Sig drink from Peter Newman includes cascade hops, a traditional ingredient in many Northern California beers. Peter Newman calls time at 13:02.


28. Michael Cannon, Velton’s Coffee Roasting, Shoreline, WA @superhariobros @veltonscoffee

“When we fall in love with something, we begin to see its image in everything” — Mr. Cannon with some poetry to start his routine.

First coffee from & is an espresso of Ethiopia Sidamo Guji, natural process – “think strawberries, think jam.” Later he’ll serve a natural processed Kenya — “a rich round body and some juiciness.”


Mr. Cannon infusing wine glasses with cascara steam for his sig drink. George Michael’s “Faith” plays on. I’m willing to declare as winner of the soundtrack wars.

Mike Cannon calls time at 15:45–this is his first routine under 16 minutes in three consecutive years of competing in the NW region.


29. 3:49 Sam Schroeder, Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., Olympia, WA @s_schro @olympiacoffee

Mr. Schroeder competes with ‘s Konga Cooperative Yirgacheffe–learn more here and take some of this delicious coffee home.

As espresso, this coffee has “Black tea, lemon, and jasmine” flavors, with “light and silky, elastic and supple” tactile notes. In a cappuccino there’s still “black tea and lemon” but also a new note, “milk chocolate.”


This routine unfortunately included two technical timeouts, both for microphone issues. It doesn’t change how the coffee tastes but it’s sure gotta be frustrating for Mr. Schroeder.

Sig drink for Mr. Schroeder takes his Konga espresso shaken with ice, paired with a black tea & lemon drinking custard omgwut.


30. 4:08 David Tran, Roseline Coffee Roasters, Portland @roselinecoffee

, from whence David Tran hails, is a plucky quality-focused coffee roaster much-loved by discerning Portland coffee drinkers. We’re fans. Mr. Tran is also an employee of Either / Or, one of PDX’s best coffee bars.

Mr. Tran is competes with Roseline’s Guatemala Finca Rosma — learn more, buy some for yourself. As a cappuccino it tastes like “toasted coconut and almond croissant” and as espresso there’s “hibiscus acidity, dried cherry sweetness, and toasted almond bitterness.”


Sig drink includes espresso, hibiscus almond syrup, warm milk foam, and a coconut garnish. He calls time at 15:19.


31. 4:27 Andrew Ogden, Hopper & Burr, Santa Ana, CA

Mr. Ogden competes here at Big Western with a coffee from Saint Frank Coffee in San Francisco. It’s the Honduras Finca Las Nubes–buy some for yourself.

As a cappuccino this Las Nubes tastes like “nectarines with whipped cream and milk”–and he tells the judges “This coffee won me over. It charmed me. It romanced me!”


Sig drink: “Tonic water” with citric acid & lemongrass, passionfruit puree & cane syrup, quinine, espresso & ice.


32. 4:46 Peter Molignano, Bar Nine, LA @barnineLA 

Mr. Molignano competes using ‘s Guatemala Antigua Santa Clara — learn more about the coffee here.  We’ve featured Bar Nine extensively in the past on Sprudge, including once as a Build Out of Summer and again after their extended soft opening.

Peter Molignano’s espressos: “Ruby red grapefruit, golden raisin sweetness…like a sweet date.”

Peter Molignano capps: “Caramel apple-like sweetness…softer, nicer, incredibly sweet.”


Kind of a laboratory style sig drink here from Mr. Molignano — magnesium, calcium, beakers & flasks — “mineralized Americano.” Peter Molignano calls time past the 16 minute mark, making him the second DQ of the week here at Big Western, and our final competitor of the day.