The pageantry. The drama. The excitement. The roar of the crowd! Round One at the 2017 United States Barista Championship is in the books, and just TK competitors are remaining in this year’s field, with live coverage continuing all weekend across the Sprudge Media Network.

Here’s our very favorite moments from Round One at the 2017 United States Barista Championship!

Sprudge’s coverage of the 2017 US Barista Championship is made possible by HarioSwiss Water Decaf, Pacific Natural Foods, Cafe ImportsAeroPress, and Baratza. All of our 2017 Barista Competition coverage worldwide is supported by Urnex Brands and Nuova Simonelli.Sprudge

CRIS MENDOZA, SAINT FRANK COFFEE, SAN FRANCISO, CA

Seattle_Day1_1CrisMendoza

And we’re welcoming in the judges. is getting started

. is using 3 different coffees from a Honduran farm on the Santa Barbara Mountain that he visited a few weeks back.

A Pacas variety grown at 1670MASL, ‘s espresso course has notes of red grapefruit, green mango, & brown sugar.

For his milk course, is using a Catimor/Pacas variety blend, giving his capps buttery notes w/ marshmallow and a toffee finish

First competitor, first smoke gun on stage. It’s good to start the day off with a little drama.

A beautifully layered sig bev for , pink from a cherry gelatin topped with brown spro and orange crema.

KATHIE HILBERG, SPYHOUSE COFFEE ROASTING CO, MINNEAPOLIS, MN

Seattle_Day1_2KathieHilberg2

Number of years as a barista: 7

Number of competitions: 5
Northwest Regional Barista Championship: 2013
Big Central Regional Barista Championship: 2015
Regional Barista Qualifier: 2016, 2017
US Barista Championship: 2016

Coffee: La Esperanza, Huila, Colombia from producer Faiber Bolaños

Milk: Horizon

Does your routine have a theme? Coffee

Seattle_Day1_2KathieHilberg1

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

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
No coaches, just lots of support from the Spyhouse team.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Faiber Bolaños, the producer of my coffee is part of the Association Los Naranjos whose group lot I used last year at USBC.

TYLER HILL, LOYAL COFFEE, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO

Seattle_Day1_3TylerHill3

Number of years as a barista: 6

Number of competitions: 4
Big Western Regional Championship: 2015
Regional Barista Qualifier: 4th (2016), 13th (2017)
US Barista Championship: 12th (2016)

Coffee: Costa Rica Geisha from Montania del Sol

Signature Beverage: Ultra Clean Beam

Does your routine have a theme? Potential

Seattle_Day1_3TylerHill1

What’s your playlist going to be? Marian Hill, RJD2, Chance The Rapper, Kanye West

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

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Bevan “The Kiwi” Cammell. He is the head roaster at Loyal Coffee. My wife Chelsea (who does not really like coffee) has mastered the art of competition. Travel, inventory, polishing, music back up, she has memorized the rules she is an all around barista competition expert…It’s UNREAL!

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
It’s been crazy prepping for USBC this year, as we are still within the first 6 months of opening Loyal. Serving as the general manager of the cafe and getting good practice in has been bananas. But my team at Loyal and the city of Colorado Springs is incredibly supportive. I’m deeply thankful for those who have surrounded me during completion season!

STEPH CARONNA, RALEIGH COFFEE COMPANY, RALEIGH, NC

Seattle_Day1_4StephCaronna1

Number of years as a barista: 8

Number of competitions: 5
Southeast Regional, Big East, Qualifying events…So many, basically this is my first year at Nationals!

Coffee: El Cerro Natural from Hacienda Sonora

Milk: Horizon organic

Signature Beverage: Black grape shrub, lemon seltzer water, cashew milk

What’s your playlist going to be? Thomas Rhett

Seattle_Day1_4StephCaronna2

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 
Too many and not enough

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Joe at Raleigh Coffee – he and his wife own Raleigh Coffee and run it and they have supported me for the last few years. He helps me taste everything and also put me in touch with some amazing coffee importers and farmers

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I am just excited for my first year at Nationals!!

NICHOLAS BALCER, BARISTA, PORTLAND, OR

Seattle_Day1_5NicholasBalcer1

Balcer is using a mix of 10 micro-lots from Las Estrallas in Cauca, Colombia.

Bakers chocolate, pear-like sweetness, and a dry wine finish in Balcer’s espresso course.

Rocky road ice cream milkies for Balcer. How great does that sound?

“Hi, yes, I’d like a milky on the rocks please. The roady rocks.”

Sig bev for Balcer includes star fruit aged balsamic vinegar shrub, green grape & clove maceration, & cold pressed pear juice ice cube.

Josh Taves, Novo Coffee, Denver, CO

Seattle_Day1_6JoshTaves1

Number of years as a barista: 12

Number of competitions: 9
Mountain Regional Barista Championship: 2010
Southwest Regional Barista Championship: 2011
North Central Regional Barista Championship: 3rd (2013), 3rd (2014)
Regional Barista Championship: 40th (2016), 18th (2017)
US Barista Championship: 11th (2013), 20th (2014)

Coffee: Kemgin from Ninety Plus Coffee in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

Signature Beverage: Espresso on the Half Shell
Voodoo, Espresso, Caramel, Green Apples, Milk, Magic

Does your routine have a theme?
Showcasing Kemgin for what it is: an unconventionally delicious coffee

Seattle_Day1_6JoshTaves2

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
75 hours since the Austin Qualifier. Total for this season probably in the 200 hour range

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Melissa Raef is the Director of Retail for Novo Coffee. She is a big help to myself and the other Novo competitors and an awesome sounding board for our flavors and ideas.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Barista competitions are a great way to learn a lot about coffee and I thoroughly enjoy participating! This year’s competition will be influenced by my recent foray into wine, as I recently became a Certified Cellar Master with the International Wine and Spirits Guild. There is a lot of crossover, and thinking about wine has opened my eyes to lots of new ways to think about coffee! I would highly recommend that all coffee professionals dive into a separate beverage industry as well, as it will greatly expand your horizons in relation to coffee.

I am also the inventor of the recently released Rattleware Cupping Brewer. Check it out!

Milo DeGoosh, Bard Coffee, Portland, ME

Seattle_Day1_7MiloDegoosh

Number of years as a barista: 11

Number of competitions: 5
Big Central Brewers Cup: 2015
US Brewers Cup: 2015, 2016
Regional Brewers Cup: 2016, 2017
Regional Barista Championship: 2016, 2017

Coffee: Ethiopia Hambela Alaka

Milk: Kimball Brook Farm, VT

Does your routine have a theme? Hospitality

What’s your playlist going to be? Gregory Alan Isakov

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
More than I have slept during preparation.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Kari and Bill Guddeck, Brittany Feltovic. They’re super.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I just tried for way too long to think of something to say about myself.

Drew Frohn, Ultimo Coffee, Philadelphia, PA

Seattle_Day1_8DrewFrohn1

Number of years as a barista: 3

Number of competitions: 2
Regional Barista Qualifier: 23rd (2016), 10th /92017)

Coffee: Colombian Caturra variety, single-farmer lot

Milk: Maplehofe Dairy from Lancaster, PA

Signature Beverage: Las Mingas Canelazo
It’s a play on a traditional Colombian beverage, Canelazo, and uses similar components.

Does your routine have a theme? Community, warmth, and connection

What’s your playlist going to be? Todd Terje, Leon Vynehall

Seattle_Day1_8DrewFrohn2

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
I would rather not think about it

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Aaron Ultimo, head judge and namesake of Ultimo Coffee, and Cody McGregor, friend, coworker, and fellow competitor (4th in Austin Cup Tasters, look out for him!)

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m super excited for my first time at Expo, first National competition, and first time in Seattle – I hope I get to meet many of you there!

David Castillo, Joe Coffee Co, New York, NY

Seattle_Day1_9DavidCastillo2

Number of years as a barista: 5

Number of competitions: 1
Regional Barista Qualifier: 20th (2017)

Coffee: Burundi Nkonge

Milk: Organic Valley

Signature Beverage: Espresso Arnold Palmer
Raspberry-infused black tea, whey, and agave

Does your routine have a theme? Setting and meeting customers’ expectations

What’s your playlist going to be?
Mac DeMarco – Cooking Up Something Good
Patrick Carney – Bojack’s Theme
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Can’t Keep Checking My Phone
D’Angelo – Sugah Daddy

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 12

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Caleb Ferguson, who has helped with tasting, technique, and overall routine planning at every step of the way, and who pushed me to compete in the first place! Brian Gelletly, who is representing Joe at the US Brewers Cup, played a huge part in my signature drink construction and milk drink presentation! These two made it all happen!!

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Well, I placed 20th in Austin, 2.5 points short of qualifying for nationals. I had just gotten over it when I got a call from Carllee one week before competition, telling me someone had dropped out and a spot had opened up for me if I wanted it. After about three hours of deliberation with coworkers, who all convinced me that “there was nothing to lose,” to “just go out there and have fun,” etc., I decided to go for it. This last week has been one of the most stressful of recent memory; the coffee that I had used at the qualifying round is out of season, so we basically had to construct an entire routine from scratch. What you’ll see on Friday is the result of five days’ worth of practice, but hey… I’ll definitely go out there and have fun!

Micah Sherer, Ally Coffee, Greenville, SC

Seattle_Day1_10MicahSherer

Number of years as a barista: 6

Number of competitions: 3
3 regional Barista Competitions, qualified for Nationals all 3 years.

Milk: Southern Oaks Jersey Farm

Does your routine have a theme? What we don’t know.

What’s your playlist going to be? Mostly dead pop artists

Seattle_Day1_10MicahSherer2

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
My whole life has been spent preparing for this competition.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Pete Licata, James Tooill, Ricardo Pereira, Alex Medina, and Brad and Kristen Hartman

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
This routine gonna be fire.

ANDREW MCCASLIN, KALDI’S COFFEE ROASTING CO, ST LOUIS, MO

Seattle_Day1_11DavidMcCaslin1

Not for nothing, , but you’re on my fantasy team. Win one for the gipper.

Coffee today for is produced by Carlos Imbachi on Finca Buena Vista in Huila, Colombia.

Carlos Imbachi espressos for have notes of pomegranate, red plum, caramel, with a pink grapefruit finish.

The thinking behind many sig bevs is to play off the flavors of the spro. @anmcann is going in the opposite direction.

pineapple, oat milk, panella, juniper, and xanthan gum in ‘s sig bev, the first time we’ve heard any of those calls in his routine.

David Buehrer, Greenway Coffee Co, Houston, TX

Seattle_Day1_12DavidBuehrer2

Number of years as a barista: 16

Number of competitions: 5
South Central Regional Barista Championship: 8th (2009)
US Barista Championship: 2014, 2015, 2016

Coffee: Guji, Oromia, Ethiopia

Milk: Straus

Does your routine have a theme? Setting the Table

What’s your playlist going to be? Houston

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 160-200

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them! Charles Babinski, self explanatory

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Love supporting the other competitors, and genuinely happy watching others succeed!

MARCOS IGLESIAS, VP COFFEE, RALEIGH, NC

Seattle_Day1_13MarcosIglesias2

Number of years as a barista: 2

Number of competitions: 3
Regional Qualifying Event: 2016, 2017
US Barista Championship: 2016

Coffee: Something from Parlor

Milk: Horizon

What’s your playlist going to be? Probably some old favorites.

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

Seattle_Day1_13MarcosIglesias1

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
My wife is my number one coach. She tries everything I make and is always down for late night practicing. I also practiced a lot with my coworker Shane Hess who is also competing and my friends Tim Jones and Kyle Ramage.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m a field service tech for coffee equipment for VP on my weekdays and a weekend barista at Jubala.

ERIKA VONIE, VARIETY COFFEE ROASTERS, BROOKLYN, NY

Seattle_Day1_14ErikaVonie2

Number of years as a barista: 11

Number of competitions: 5
Northeastern Regional Barista Championship: 9th (2013)
Big Easter Regional Barista Championship: 2nd (2014), 4th (2015)
Regional Barista Qualififer: 20th (2017)
US Barista Championship: 11th (2014), 2015
Coffee Masters: Quaterfinalist (2016)

Coffee: Rwanda Nyamasheke Gatare

Milk: 2% Milkfat from Battenkill Creamery

Signature Beverage: The Gatare Hero
Gatare Espresso, split extractions from a V60 of Gatare

Seattle_Day1_14ErikaVonie1

Does your routine have a theme?
Your coffee will tell you exactly how best to manipulate it, so listen to what it’s telling you.

What’s your playlist going to be? Nas, The Pharcyde, J. Dilla, Jungle

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
Time is a flat circle

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
My team at Variety, and two of my very best friends and coffee role models, Bailey Arnold and Jed Baxter.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m competing at USBC after making it through the waitlist; second chances are hard to come by.

Amelia Wimmer, Tried & True Coffee Co, Corvalis, OR

Seattle_Day1_15AmeliaWimmer2

“What is it about specialty coffee that makes it so special?”

Wimmer’s coffee today comes from the Celinga washing station in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. It’s fully washed and roasted by

That Celinga has notes of apricot, bergamot, lavender, and dark chocolate as an espresso.

Milk chocolate, marshmallow, and a graham cracker finish for Wimmer. “It tastes like s’mores.”

Wimmer’s sig bev is a take on an old-fashioned using Celinga flavors: apricot shrub, bubbles, and a Cara Cara orange essence

Becky Reeves, Barista, Portland, OR

Seattle_Day1_16BeckieReeves2

To pick her comp coffee, blind cupped 14 coffees & landed on something “juicy, floral, and aromatic”

. Chelbessa is wash processed, w/ notes of brown sugar, black tea, and a key lime acidity

Salt water taffy and bakers chocolate in the 1:3 ratio milkies for .

Barrel aged honey, rosemary sprig, and champagne mangos, all nitro charged. served in beautiful stemware garnished with mango & rosemary

“Hold the garnish with one finger so it doesn’t come around and boop you on the nose” –

Hannah Craig, Quills Coffee, Louisville, KY

Seattle_Day1_17HannahCraig2

Number of years as a barista: 1

Number of competitions: 1
Regional Barista Qualifier: 9th (2017)

Coffee: El Trebol, Castillo and Colombian

Milk: Nature Valley

Signature Beverage: The Shakeira
Panela, Orange Bitters, Almond Milk

Does your routine have a theme?
When we seek to improve ourselves, we impact who we are, our product and our community.

Seattle_Day1_17HannahCraig1

What’s your playlist going to be? The best kind- Colombian

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? Way too many to count

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Micheal Butterworth, he is the greatest and coached me in the midst of having his second baby! But he has also pretty much ruled my life since January, but that made him a great coach. I also got tips from Ryan Soeder, John Letoto, and Charles Babinski.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I have been pregnant the entire time I have been competing, and this made for complicated practice times but has also been extremely rewarding; this also is why my coach\team at Quills is amazing because they were very patient with me during this season.

Brandon Paul Weaver, Foreigner Coffee, Seattle, WA

Seattle_Day1_18BPW

Number of years as a barista: 7

Number of competitions: 5
Northwest Regional Barista Championship: 12th (2013)
Big West Regional Barista Championship: 8th (2014), 4th (2015)

Coffee: Bourbon and Sudan Rume from the Las Margaritas farm of Granja la Esperanza

Milk: Sunshine

Does your routine have a theme? Sustainability

What’s your playlist going to be? Chance the Rapper

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? 20

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them! Just my conscience

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
This is my first time roasting my own competition coffee!

Reef Bessette, Saint Frank Coffee, San Francisco, CA

Seattle_Day1_19ReefBessette1

Number of years as a barista: 4

Number of competitions: 3
Coffee Masters: 3rd (2015, 2016)
USBC Knoxville Qualifying Event: 15th (2017)

Coffee: Rustys Hawaiian Natural Typica

Milk: Saint Benoit

Signature Beverage: Coffee and an Apricot

Does your routine have a theme? Conservation

What’s your playlist going to be? 
Tomppabeats – Harbor LP

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

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Kevin Bohlin – Owner – Saint Frank
Percy Ramirez – D.O. – Saint Frank

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
#TeambaReefsta

Sam Schroeder, Olympia Coffee Roasting Co, Olympia, WA

Seattle_Day1_20SamSchroeder2

Number of years as a barista: 17

Number of competitions: This is my 5th season
Northwest Regional Barista Championship: 7th (2013)
Big Western NW Regional Barista Championship: 4th (2014), 1st (2015)
US Regional Qualifier: 2nd (2016), 9th (2017)
US Barista Championship: 14th (2014), 3rd (2015), 6th (2016)

Coffee: Two single producer lots from Yirgacheffe: Ayele Bedecha and Addisu Kidane.

Seattle_Day1_20SamSchroeder1

Signature Beverage: Lemon Oleo Saccharum, Dian Hong Black Tea, Cream, Berry Oleo Saccharum

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

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
No single coach, but I have incredible support from my team at Olympia Coffee, including Oliver, Amy, Ilsina, Meg, Jack, Nathan, Kristen, Kelsey, Derrick and others.

T. Ben Fisher, La Colombe, Philadelphia, PA

Seattle_Day1_21TBen1

Number of years as a barista: 5

Number of competitions: 4
Big Central Barista Championship: 2014
US Barista Championship: 2015, 2016

Coffee: Natural Colombia Guamerra and another one (sorry, not sure yet!)

Milk: The best form of Cow Juice out there

Signature Beverage: Egg White, Vinegar Shrub, Simple Syrup, Shaken like Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”

Does your routine have a theme? Dichotomy of Excellence

What’s your playlist going to be? Funk and Boy Bands

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

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Alex Szabo (The Calm, Chill, and engaged), Ben Contois (The determined, strong, and helpful), and Avery Leith (The roommate, encourager, and taster)

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Sprudge is the best.

Matthew Gasaway, Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, IL

Seattle_Day1_22MatthewGasaway

Gasaway is using a Rayos del Sol from Peru, a Bourbon variety harvested by Percy Pintado.

For his first drink, Gasaway is serving up milkies, with notes of oatmeal raisin cookie, butterscotch, and black cherry.

We’ve got our first song of the day somehow. It is, of course, Passionfruit.

Sig bev for Gasaway includes muddled green and red grapes, raspberry syrup, and chilled espresso, all nitro charged.

Maxwell Mooney, Narrative Coffee, Everett, WA

Seattle_Day1_23MaxwellMooney

. competes with a Geisha from Morgan Estate in Panama.

white peach, ruby red grapefruit, orchid, and soft rose notes in the Panama Geisha spros for

Listening to the pitch of espresso. is like a real life koan in action.

Graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, and cashew butter in ‘s milk course.

It’s official: graham cracker is the tasting note of . This may be the first year where the TNOTY came from the milkies.

. is leaning heavily on cascara for his sig bev, playing on the plum, dried fruit, and herbaceous flavors.

Eli Ramirez, Halfwit Coffee, Chicago, IL

Seattle_Day1_24EliRamirez

Number of years as a barista: 5

Number of competitions: 2
Regional Qualifying Event: 30th? (2016), 11th (2017)

Does your routine have a theme? Life on the Farm

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

Seattle_Day1_24EliRamirez2

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Andreas Willhoff- my coffee coach, life coach, all around beard vision guide

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
The coffee that I’m planning on using has never been used in a national competition before, anywhere.

Coverage at the 2017 US Barista Championship is produced by Zac Cadwalader. Photos by Charlie Burt and Liz Chai for Sprudge Media Network, all rights reserved. Contact us for photo use.