Round One of the US Barista Championship kicks off today with a whopping 24 competitors! Winnowed down from the original field of 100 baristas in the Regional Qualifying Event in Kansas City, Missouri that took place in February, the field today is comprised of the top performers from both the East and the West to not finish in the top six of their respective conferences.

The top six finishers from today’s heat will move on to the Semi-Finals taking place tomorrow, where they will face off against the six winners from the Eastern and Western conferences in hopes of being the one of the final six to make it Sunday for the Big Dance.

We’ll be live-blogging the whole thing here (and the Brewers Cup here) and live-tweeting every detail at @SprudgeLive, keep you close to the syrupy, creamy, sig-bevy action! We’ll be updating this blog reguarly, so stay tuned…

Our 2016 US Barista Championship coverage on Sprudge Live is supported by KitchenAid Craft Coffee Brewers, Nuova Simonelli, and Urnex Brands.

Official Livestream here

WOLF BARN MARNELL, PAVEMENT COFFEEHOUSE

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Number of years as a barista: 9

Number of competitions: 2
2012 Northeastern Regional Barista Championship
2016 US Barista Championship Qualifying Event

Coffee: Cueva de los Llanos from Nariño, Colombia, roasted Counter Culture

Milk: 

Signature Beverage: “Wolf’s Tears”
Jasmine green tea infused whey, brown sugar syrup

Does your routine have a theme?

What’s your playlist going to be?
Probably kid koala, dj qbert, boards of Canada, the books…

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? Oh god…

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
No ‘coach’, but lots of help from Brian Seaver at Pavement. Shoutout to my 2012 coach Ryan Soeder.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
<3 u mean it.

NATHAN NERSWICK, CHATTAHOOCHEE COFFEE CO.

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Number of years as a barista: 4

Number of competitions: 4
South East Regional Barista Championship: 6th (2014), 3th (2015)
US Barista Championship: 22nd (2015)
Us Barista Regional Qualifying Event: 11th in East

Coffee: Cosmel Merino from Ecuador

Milk: Mountain Fresh Creamery

Signature Beverage: Tiger Nut Milk, Passion Fruit Syrup, Black Tea Syrup, Carbonation

Does your routine have a theme? Relationships

What’s your playlist going to be? 80’s

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 100+

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
There are too many people to name one by one that made competing this year possible.

Jeremy Sterner, PEREGRINE ESPRESSO

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Number of years as a barista: 19

Number of competitions: I’m not sure exactly
Several SCAA events and also the Coffee fest latte art and America’s Best Coffee House. We did pretty well. We had great teams for everything!

Coffee: Cueva de los Llanos from Nariño, Colombia, roasted by Counter Culture

Milk: Trickling Springs Creamery milk

Signature Beverage: Cueva de los Llanos, some cream and some caramel sauce

What’s your playlist going to be? Radical Face

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 
Not enough. Is it ever enough?

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
My coach Dawn. My coach Dawn is awesome! She felt odd coaching me when I have helped her in the past with competition, but it was just what I needed. Got me movin’! Thanks, Pro!!!

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I haven’t done this competition thing in a while and I am nervous, but excited to be back in it this year. I could go on and on about how much support that my family at Peregrine and my family at home have provided, but I am guessing that anyone doing this has a strong team behind them. I just hope I can do my best and do all of the people involved, from producers, roasters, and my Peregrine team, proud.

Kelly Sanchez, BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE CO.

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Number of years as a barista: 6

Number of competitions: 1
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event

Coffee: Rwanda Nyamasheke Mwasa

Milk: Clover Stornetta Organic

Signature Beverage: Chamomile-hops syrup, orange zest ice cubes, club soda, espresso

Does your routine have a theme? Coffee processing is essentially preservation

What’s your playlist going to be? Com Truise, Photay, Neon Indian, Shabazz Palaces

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 135-180

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Various colleagues: Judith Mandel (BB QC), Ashley Rodriguez (SightGlass competitor), Michael Phillips, Juliet Han (BB roaster), others

David Buehrer, GREENWAY COFFEE CO.

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Number of years as a barista: 15

Number of competitions: 7

Coffee: Villa Sarchi from Finca La Esperanza in Antigua, Guatemala

Milk: Promised Land Dairy

Signature Beverage: “Espresso… Naturally”
Freeze dried blueberries, unrefined sugar, vanilla , espresso

Does your routine have a theme? Natural Transformations

What’s your playlist going to be? Miami Nights 1984

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 70

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them! John Letoto

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Opening our new cafe, Morningstar on May 1st

Marcos Iglesias, BREW COFFEE BAR/RALEIGH COFFEE CO.

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Number of years as a barista: 2

Number of competitions: 1
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event: 8th in East

Coffee: A single farmer lot from Jinotega, Nicaragua roasted myself at Raleigh Coffee Company

Milk: Homeland Creamery in Julian, NC

Signature Beverage: Cherry blossom syrup, bitter orange puree, lemon juice, spro

Does your routine have a theme? Vocation

What’s your playlist going to be? XX, Bon Iver, The National, Temper Trap.

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 69

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
My wife has listened to every idea I’ve had regarding competition and let me bounce them off of her. Joe, who owns RCC has watched and timed countless run throughs. Kyle from Mahlkönig and Tim from Jubala have given me invaluable advice as seasoned competitors and tasted a lot of spro with me.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m just so excited to get to share a competition stage with such amazing coffee professionals. I’ve looked up to many of these baristas for the past years. It’s still surreal that I get a chance to do that. I’m incredibly honored.

ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ, SIGHTGLASS

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Number of years as a barista: 6

Number of competitions: 1
2012 Northeastern Barista Championship

Coffee: Catimor from Honduras

Milk: St. Benoit Creamery

Signature Beverage: “The Teacher’s Pet”
Components to be decided by the judges.

Does your routine have a theme? Education as means of barista empowerment

What’s your playlist going to be? Paul McCartney and Madness

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
Some amount that’ll never feel like enough

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
No coaches, but lots of friends!

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Send Adam your love and coffee puns: https://www.gofundme.com/765d23s4

ISAIAH SHEESE, ARCHETYPE COFFEE

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Number of years as a barista: 10

Number of competitions: 8
South Central Regional Barista Championship: 4th (2008), 6th (2010)
US Barista Championship: 36th (2010)

Coffee: Ecuador Las Tolas

Signature Beverage: Coffee flower honey, jasmine tea bee pollen, complex citrus syrup, hazelnut syrup

Does your routine have a theme? Calibration

What’s your playlist going to be? Gold Panda, Brian Eno, Javelin, Baths, Claude Debussy

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
A better question would be, “how many hours have you laid in bed awake not able to sleep due to practicing?”

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
My favorite color is blue, Im a leo, and thanks for all you guys do to keep us informed. You connect the whole coffee world making us a big family. That’s pretty great.

SEAN HUNDLEY, ONE LINE COFFEE

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Number of years as a barista: 7

Number of competitions: 2
2015 Northeastern Barista Championship

Coffee: San Pascual, Colombia

Milk: Hartzler Creamery

Signature Beverage: “Mock Malbec”
Cascara, glycerin and raspberry shrub

Does your routine have a theme? Experimentation

What’s your playlist going to be? Aphex Twin

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 50+

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Mick Evans, owner and retail operations manager

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I am completely honored and inspired to have qualified for this event!

MICHAEL HARWOOD, CEREMONY COFFEE ROASTERS

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Number of years as a barista: 12

Number of competitions: 10
Southeastern Regional Barista Championship: 1st (2011), 3rd (2012), 3rd (2013),
Northeastern Regional Barista Championship: 3rd (2015)
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event
US Barista Championship: Semi-finalist (2012, 2013), 3rd (2015)

Coffee: Kenya Kiangoi from the Rung’eto Farmers Cooperative Society

Milk: Trickling Springs Creamery blend of 2% + Creamline (non-homogenized)

Signature Beverage: “Love Tonic”
Pomegranate/Pink Grapefruit Syrup, Blackstrap Molasses, Red Food Coloring, Hibiscus/Blackberry/Raisin Garnish

Does your routine have a theme? Falling in love again!

What’s your playlist going to be?
Gramatik – Just Jammin; St. Germain – Rose Rouge; Parov Stelar – Jimmy’s Gang

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
How does one count time spent dreaming?

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
The UPS guy + half a dozen people who showed up for one of our public tasting events. Great feedback!

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m hoping to coach next season. We have some strong candidates at Ceremony!

JONATHAN MOEHLIG, LAND OF A THOUSAND HILLS

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Number of years as a barista: 4

Number of competitions: 3
Southeastern Regional Barista Championship: 9th (2014), 10th (2015)
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event: 12th

Coffee: fully washed Rwanda from Ruli Mountain

Signature Beverage: 20g Lavender Blood Orange Simple syrup. 20g Tanzanian Coco nib Syrup. Espresso and I’m blending those ingredients for additional texture and sweetness.

Does your routine have a theme? Coffee Creates Community

What’s your playlist going to be? Blood Brothers by Ingrid Michelson. Downtown by Macklemore. Something by Michael Jackson and Borderland by John Mark McMillan.

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? At least 75

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
No but a ton of people have helped me. All of my baristas at my two shops, Sarah Frinak from Spiller park as well has been a tremendous help. I’m using her blender for my routine!

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Coffee has always been something that has connected me to people. That’s why I think it’s so great that coffee can create community the way that it does. When I went to Rwanda to not only visit the farms and washing station my coffee comes from I was deeply impacted by the amazing people there. Their love and reconciliation after the genocides of 22 years ago has inspired every shot I pull and pour over I make. I took this experience and wrote a spoken word poetry piece about my time in Rwanda and had the opportunity to perform that poem for the President of Rwanda. I also spend a lot of time with my pugs and hang out all over the city of Atlanta that I call my home.

CASEY SOLORIA, INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE

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Coffee: a washed Bourbon varietal from Burundi

Signature Beverage: coconut blossom sugar, hot water, and flamed orange zest

Maxwell Mooney, SPOTTED COW COFFEE

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Number of years as a barista: 3.5

Number of competitions: 5
Northwest Regional Barista Championship: 10th (2013), 14th (2014), 3rd (2015)
US Barista Championship: 34th (2015)
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event: 32nd

Coffee: Moanti, Henganofi District, Papua New Guinea

Milk: Grace Harbor Farms

Signature Beverage: Coriander syrup made with coconut palm sugar, coconut water, milk

Does your routine have a theme? Choices

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
This competition season? 200+, this particular event? 25-30 hours

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Brandon Paul Weaver! A good friend and familiar face in the competition circuits. His attention to detail, insane dedication to helping his crew succeed, fuzzy hair, and immensely witty humor lead to one heck of a great coach.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
We used a sous vide technique on our green coffee before we roasted it. BPW came up with the idea and lo and behold, it’s working! Our roasts are finishing up within 7:32, which feels like cheating somehow. I’m not talking about it too much in my presentation, but it’s a pretty cool thing and I’m thankful I get to steal BPW’s good ideas.

Joel Bigelow, PT’S COFFEE ROASTING CO.

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Number of years as a barista: 4

Number of competitions: 1
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event: 34th

Coffee: Aida Batlle’s Burundi Washed Process Coffee from Finca Kilimanjaro!

Milk: Hildebrand Dairy Farms

Signature Beverage: Blueberry Juice, Coconut Sugar Syrup, Espresso, Dry Ice

Does your routine have a theme? My presentation will center around stewardship and the value of attention to all the little details.

What’s your playlist going to be?
Divinity by Porter Robinson (ODESZA Remix), Runner by From Indian Lakes (Ansible Remix), Honest Affection by Kye Kye, We Are Sick by From Indian Lakes (Aaron Campbell Remix)

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
Probably close to 150 between February and now.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
I had the privilege of training with Pete Licata and Holly Bastin, which was phenomenal. No official coaches this time around just lots of valuable feedback from fellow coffee people and my fellow competitor from PT’s, Leah Shinkle

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I really love tacos.

Micah Sherer, ALLY COFFEE

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Number of years as a barista: 4

Number of competitions: 2
2015 Big Eastern Regional Barista Championship: 5th place
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event: T-18th

Coffee: A Brazil and a Panama Geisha

Milk: Southern Oaks Jersey

Signature Beverage: “A Taste of Brazil”
Brazilian Coffee Ingredients with some orange flair

Does your routine have a theme? Process

What’s your playlist going to be? Raising Sand-Alison Krauss and Robert Plant

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? Way too many and not close to enough.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
I have about 10 coaches when it comes down to it. Alex Medina is my oldest barista friend and has a wealth of competition experience. He’s tasted more of my espressos the last few weeks than any normal person could endure. Ricardo Pereira sourced many of the ingredients and helped me nail the flavor descriptors. Nate Mylander has been cleaning up after my practice runs and keeping things smooth. Finally, Brad and Kristen Hartman and the rest of the Tandem CC crew put up with me on my weekend bar shifts and have encouraged me and loved me far more than I have a right to expect. I wouldn’t be competing without all of these people.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I roasted my own coffee for the competition.

Kathie Hilberg, SPYHOUSE COFFEE ROASTING CO.

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Number of years as a barista: 5

Number of competitions: 3
2013 Northwestern Regional Barista Championship
2015 Big Central Barista Championship
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifyin Event

Coffee: Los Naranjos from Colombia

Signature Beverage: Los Naranjos Espresso, fruit blossom honey, peach shrub, rosemary infusion, with a grapefruit and rosemary garnish.

What’s your playlist going to be? Music from Caspian, Chet Faker, and Made in Heights

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? A lot! It’s hard to keep track.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them! Joe Marrocco from Cafe Imports

Ryan Fisher, COMMONWEALTH COFFEE

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Number of years as a barista: 5

Number of competitions: 3
2015 Southwestern Regional Brewers Cup: 3rd
2015 Southwester Regional Barista Championship
2015 New York Coffee Masters: 2nd

Coffee: a blend (50/50 of a late harvest Hondo and a Yirgacheffe)

Signature Beverage: Espresso, heavy cream, lime juice, lime zest, oolong tea simple syrup, candied lime garnish.

Does your routine have a theme? simplicity and practicality

What’s your playlist going to be? hall and oates, whitney, steve winwood

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 60

Leah Shinkle, PT’S COFFEE ROASTING CO.

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Number of years as a barista: 8

Number of competitions: 1
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event

Coffee: Finca Kilimanjaro Burundi Washed Process

Milk: Hildebrand Dairy Farms

Signature Beverage: Strawberries, heavy cream, black tea, and coconut sugar

Does your routine have a theme? Experimentation helps us find what we are truly looking for and relationships help support and sustain throughout that process.

What’s your playlist going to be?
Go Do by Jonsi, All I Want (dawn golden) Bloom (Odesza) All I want (dawn golden Manila killa remix)

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 150+

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m partial to tacos over pizza, but if you give me a taco pizza I’d be okay with that. I’m always happy to sit an talk about life whether it be over tacos, coffee or some beers.

RADAMES ROLDAN, BLUEPRINT COFFEE

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Coffee: Colombia Elkin Guzman, natural processed Castillo variety

Signature Beverage: molasses, Colombian espresso, kumquat juice, diluted ice, stirred & flash chilled

JON LEWIS, DEEPER ROOTS COFFEE

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Number of years as a barista: 13

Number of competitions: 12
a handful of regional competitions ’03-’08 including the first Mountain Regional BC ’08 (1st), USBC ’03 (2nd), ’05 (24th?), ’06 (4th), ’07 (7th)

Coffee: Bourbon Chocola produced by the Bressani Family at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar – Atitlán, Guatemala

Milk: Hartzler Family Dairy – Wooster, Ohio

Signature Beverage: “Chocola Haiku”
Bourbon Chocola espresso, drinking chocolate (melted Maverick chocolate & steamed milk), Ceylon cinnamon, oil from navel orange

Does your routine have a theme?
Every cup
depends on how we
let it flow

What’s your playlist going to be? Boom Bip / Yuuki Mathews / Goddamn Electric Bill / Looper

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? Countless / repressed memories

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
My colleagues at Deeper Roots Coffee: Ryan Doan, Courtney Robinson, Adam Shaw & Les Stoneham, have been an invaluable resource. The support and enthusiasm of our team of baristas & customers has been phenomenal. I get tremendous inspiration and support from my friends, family and kids.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m so grateful to be able to participate in this USBC. Barista competitions were a big part of my coffee journey before I joined the staff of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence and shifted focus to Cup of Excellence competitions for 5 years. I’ve returned to my hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio, and joined Deeper Roots Coffee which has opened the door for more hands-on work with coffee in dynamic ways – especially in our fledgling cafe. And for this competition, I’m indebted to the Bressani family in Atitlán, Guatemala, who have produced an impeccable coffee and continue to let it flow. People will enjoy checking out their instagram @fincasanjeronimo

T. BEN FISCHER, STONE CREEK COFFEE ROASTERS

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Number of years as a barista: 3.5

Number of competitions: 4
Big Central Regional Barista Championship: 2014, 2015
United States Barista Championship: 2015
2016 US Barista Regional Qualifying Event

Coffee: Two Colombians (Axel Cat Approved)

Signature Beverage: “Does it Blend?”
Blend of creamed nuts, play on acidity, and balance of floral aromatics!

Does your routine have a theme? Cooperation

What’s your playlist going to be? Circle of Life, Trashin’ the Camp Robot Love – Mayer Hawthorne, Fools Gold – Fitz and the Tantrums, My Trigger – Miike Snow, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Starfkr

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? Digits are not able to quantify the number

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them! Sam Brown – a pretty rad guy

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Shout out to Axel Cat, my roommates, and gents at my home cafe for their constant support.

JON FRENCH, OLD WORLD COFFEE

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Number of years as a barista: 8

Coffee: Tarime AB, Tanzania

Milk: Sparkmans Cream Valley

Signature Beverage: “Mango Espresso”
A macerated mango, brown sugar, cocoa tea, and diluted grapefruit oil

Does your routine have a theme? Freshness

What’s your playlist going to be? Several Jackie Mittoo songs and “it’s fresh” by Kool & the Gang

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
I found out I was competing last Thursday. So, not as many as I would have liked…

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Philipp Henauer- he is one of the most amazing coffee professionals ever! He owns Henauer Kaffee in Switzerland and also trains competition team. I can not say enough positive things about Philipp. I am very grateful to have trained with him. Long distance training has been a bit challenging, but ultimately I would not have wanted to prepare with anyone else.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
During the last round of competition I was going through chemotherapy. It was a very difficult season in life for me. I felt so supported by the global coffee community and can not thank everyone enough. I’m really excited that I get the chance to compete a second time this year, and at the moment I am cancer free. Also, I’m pretty excited about the idea of not being in the emergency room the night before I compete- last time was rough. *knock on wood. The coffee I’m using was imported by Olam Coffee (thanks Brandon!) and roasted by David Wilson, who is the head roaster for Hub Coffee Roasters in Reno, NV.

ANDREA ALLEN, ONYX COFFEE LAB

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Number of years as a barista: 14

Number of competitions: 3 seasons
2015 Big Central Regional Barista Championship: 2nd
2015 US Barista Championship: Sem-finalist

Coffee: Colombia Las Margaritas Pacamara Natural

Milk: Ozark Mountain Creamery

Signature Beverage: “Espresso Lassi”
Lacto Fermented Yogurt, Espresso, House Vanilla Simple Syrup, Smoking Cassia, Spanked Basil

Does your routine have a theme? Specialty Coffees vs. Natural Processing

What’s your playlist going to be? Folk

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? Too many

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them! Jon Allen & Licata Coffee

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I love coffee and people!

TALYA STRADER, EQUATOR COFFEES & TEAS

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Number of years as a barista: 15

Number of competitions: 5 seasons?
3rd once in Big Central. 4th 3 times in Great Lakes/Big Central

Coffee: Rwanda, Nyampinga Cooperative

Milk: Glo-Crest Dairy

Signature Beverage: Ecuador chocolate ice cream, sweetened with pink jasmine Demerara, Rwanda espresso, topped with a sparkling Cara Cara orange juice.

What’s your playlist going to be? Dreamy, epic, forward motion music.

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? Not done practicing.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Rita Kaminsky (best tech judge there is). Tovara Salley, good at hugs, identifying flavors, and building recipes.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Nyampinga just started farming coffee in 2009 and 2015 was their first Specialty grade coffee yield.

That’s it for today. We’ll have the announcement of who is going on to the Semi-Finals momentarily…