2017 US Barista Championship Semi-Finals Recap

Semi-Finals Saturday has come and gone here at the 2017 US Barista Championship. Let’s look back together at some of our favorite moments from the heat of battle.

Sprudge’s coverage of the 2017 US Barista Championship is made possible by BaratzaCafe ImportsAeroPressPacific Natural FoodsHario, and Swiss Water Decaf. All of our 2017 Barista Competition coverage worldwide is supported by Urnex Brands and Nuova Simonelli.

Isaiah Sheese, Archetype Coffee, Omaha, NE


Number of years as a barista: 11

Number of competitions: 5
Back in the day at the SCRBC 4th one year 6th another, 5th this year in Austin

Coffee: Natural Processed Ethiopia Qonqona and Washed Ethiopia Reko Koba Kochere

Signature Beverage: Qonqona Colada
Pineapple maceration, coconut cream, and magic

Does your routine have a theme? Making coffee fun and approachable

What’s your playlist going to be?
Some Michael Jackson, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Thundercat, J-Dilla


How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? I never keep track.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
More like collaborators. The Archetype Crew, honorary team member Gabe Smentek

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
Im an avid rock climber, mostly analog, and blue is my favorite color.



The is still scarfless. What is happening in this world? What is truth? Who are we? What are we doing here?

“different colors, different people, different preferences.” If that’s not a life lesson hidden in a barista script then nothing is.

For espresso, is serving a naturally processed Colombia from Finca La Guamera.

“simple syrup sweetness, sparkling acidity, fruity raw cacao, champagne grape, and tart plum” in ‘s Colombia spro. stir 10x

Who at do we need to petition to either make live up to his sartorial promises or change his handle?

Using the Guamera, ‘s sig bev includes floral acacia honey and Costa Rican dark chocolate, shaken over a hibiscus tea ice cube.

Shane Hess, Jubala Coffee, Raleigh, NC


Hess is using two coffees from the Organica Co-op in Cauca, Colombia, sourced by .

Caturra, Bourbon, and Tavi varieties grown at 1900MASL, Hess’ espresso course has notes of lemon, cherry, and raw sugar.

Roasted by , the 2nd coffee for Hess is La Golondrina, which he will use in his milkies


Orange blossom honey, cranberry reduction, orange blossom tea, all nitrogen infused for Hess’ sig bev.

Hess’ sig bev is served is beautiful glen cairns and is called the “cherry limeade delight”

I’d bet dollars to donuts that here in Seattle there is at least one marijuana strain also called the Cherry Limeade Delight.

Lorenzo Perkins, Fleet Coffee, Austin, TX


Number of years as a barista: 15

Number of competitions: 7
South Central Regional Barista Championship: 1st (2012)
South Central Regional Brewers Cup: 1st (2009, 2010, 2014)
US Barista Championship: 2010
US Brewers Cup: 2011

Coffee: Lucas Melo, Colombia, roasted by Madcap Coffee

Signature Beverage: La Madeleine

Does your routine have a theme? The impact of our past experiences on our current state of being

What’s your playlist going to be? Damn good dance tunes


How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
I stopped keeping track because it made me sad.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
So many people have been helping me this year, the whole staff at Fleet, Patrick, Annie, and Brandon; Trevor, Colin, Andrew, and Ryan at Madcap; Raechel Hurd, and many more having given their time to let me spew ideas, taste coffees, and talk competition.

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



. is using a Geisha variety from Nariño, Colombia for his routine today.

Sooo… just put whole bean coffee and hot water in a blender. This is going to be interesting.

“This Geisha is a proven concept” w/ notes of almond, kefir lime, pineapple, and jasmine tea as spro for


“According to ‘s metadata” is not a phrase you hear very often in barista comp scripts.

“melted Neapolitan ice cream” is still the greatest milkies tasting note. 6% fat content milk from Jersey cows for .

“What is coffee? Just fats, proteins, sugar, and water.” You forgot magic, . It’s also magic.

Devin Chapman, Coffee Manufactory, San Francisco, CA


Soundtrack starts with some of that new . Loyalty featuring . How did it take to Day 2 to get new Kendrick???

And now is bumping .

Coffee for is a mix of pacamara, java, bourbon, caturra, grown at 2200MASL in Quito, Ecuador and fully washed

Starting with a sig bev, serves a hot and cold version of the same ingredients: apple cider vinegar, wormwood, & lemongrass


We’ve got a tech time out in the middle of ‘s routine for a malfunctioning blender.

And is back in stride, as though there were no minutes long delay. Pros being pros.

Like, the power went out IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS TWO PART SIG BEV. I’d be in the fetal position on the floor crying for the rest of my 15 min.




Coffee for comes from Las Mingas in Colombia, grown at 1700MASL, full Caturra.

Orange zest acidity, black cherry, pound cake and cocoa finish in those Las Mingas espressos for

Moving on to the milkies, ‘s Las Mingas has notes of graham cracker and buttermilk pancake with a lingering herbed butter finish

Sig bev for is his take on a Canelazo, a traditionally Colombian alcoholic beverage.

Star anise infusion, raw cane sugar, and Las Mingas whisked, lime juice rinse, and cinnamon stick finish for ‘s sig bev

Cola and mulled wine flavor notes in that tasty sig bev for

Bethany Hargrove, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, San Francisco, CA


Number of years as a barista: 7

Number of competitions: 6
Big Western Regional Barista Championship: 5th (2014)
Regional Barista Qualifier: 5th (2016), 4th (2017)
US Barista Championship: 2014, 10th (2016)
US Cup Tasters: 8th (2015)

Coffee: It’s washed, it’s an Ethiopia, it’s a single-producer washed Ethiopia!

Milk: Either Straus or Sunshine

Signature Beverage: Don’t Sweat the Technique


Does your routine have a theme? Technique!

What’s your playlist going to be? Lots of Carly Rae Jepsen and a little bit of Cher

How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
Are we talking actual lab and practice hours or are we considering the times I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and write it down? Hours trained is a difficult number to quantify.

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Karley Webb– my number one, my surfing sensei, secretly better at coffee than you, has big hair full of secrets, SUCH a good friend. So fetch!
Nick Cho — nuff said.
John Letoto — Won’t let me get away with bullshit, has seen me cry more than once, probably a chef in an alternate universe.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I think you’re cute and your hair looks good today.

Samuel Lewontin, Everyman Espresso, New York, NY


Number of years as a barista: 16

Number of competitions: 10
Northeastern Regional Barista Championship: 7th (2011), 4th (2012), 1st (2013, 2015)
Regional Barista Qualifier: 2nd (2016), 1st (2017)
US Bartisa Championship: 20th? (2012), 4th (2013, 2015, 2016)

Coffee: Tito Raul Quelal, Colombia

Signature Beverage: 3 extractions of Don Tito’s coffee, 4.5g each of mace and green cardamom, 18g. of dark muscovado simple syrup, and lime oils.

Does your routine have a theme? Bridging the gap between us and the folks we serve.


How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition?
Including qualifying, uhhhhhh… 150? 200? Does all of the time I’ve stayed awake thinking about it count?

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Sam Penix, Candice Madison, and the whole awesome crew at Counter Culture Coffee NYC!

Is there anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to learn more about you.
I’m not as tall as I look in photos.

Ashley Rodriguez, The CRO Cafe, Oakland, CA


“Judges, I wish to talk to you about power. Because you all have power.” –

. is sharing her power with the judges by allowing them to select b/w two espresso cups for service.

The judges chose the matte black cup. It’s a strong choice.

“unctuousness” is not an official tasting note for ‘s milkies, but toasted nut, buttery popcorn, and cereal milk are.


That coffee for is part of their Borderlands Project and was AAA rated.

For her sig bev, is using muscat grapes, molasses syrup, acid phosphate, and pistachio nut milk, all nitro charged.


Using a Peruvian coffee from Rayos del Sol, Gasaway’s milkies have notes butterscotch, oatmeal raisin cookie, and black cherry.

This is the second harvest of the Red Bourbon from Rayos del Sol that Gasaway is using for his routine today.

Strawberry jam, tart cherry, and apricot in the Rayos del Sol espresso course for Gasaway.

If you’re gonna play Passionfruit during your sig bev, you should have passionfruit in your sig bev. Right? Am I wrong here?

muddle red and green grape, raspberry syrup, and Rayos del Sol spro, all nitrous charged for Gasaway’s sig bev.



Taves competes with the Kemgin from , a fully washed coffee from the Kochere region of Ethiopia.

It’s 4oz milkies for Taves, that tastes like melted pecan praline ice cream. I still want an ice cream flavored milkie.


Green apple, lime acidity, and a cocoa finish for Taves’ Kemgin espressos.

Sig bevs for Taves includes caramel, green apples, milk, and crumbled charred pecans.



Can i shout out this song on soundtrack?

Starting off his performance, is serving the Sudan Rume from the Las Margaritas farm on Granja la Esperanza

Pineapple, sage, and a juicy body in the “intensely tropical” espresso course for

Funny story: tried to pass off a portmanteau as a bad pun, but I wasn’t having it. I thought it was a funny story anyway.

Switching coffees now for the milkies, is using a Bourbon from the same La Esperanza in Colombia.

“Tangy and creamy, like frozen yogurt and also like creme brulee” in the milkies.

. is using both the Bourbon and the Sudan Rume for his sig bev, w/ notes of pear and a tropical and thyme finish.


Cole will be the first of our two back-to-back USBC runners up. Stay tuned

. is competing with the La Papaya from Juan Peña in Ecuador, a coffee is is very familiar with.

Sig bev for includes Dehydrated Japanese Suma, black sesame, and bakers sugar, topped with an apricot kernel milk foam.

This is a super interesting and involved sig bev for . We just passed the 6:00 mark and it’s been all sig bev thus far.

For his milkies, is using the La Papaya blended with a Burundi coffee as cappuccinos.


Those 2 coffees for are from different roasters: La Papaya from and the natural Burundi from

Back to just the La Papaya, ‘s espresso has notes of Apple, pear, candied orange, caramel, and dark chocolate

Andrea Allen, Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, AR


Number of years as a barista: 16

Number of competitions: 4
Regional Qualifying Event: 1st (2017)
US Barista Championship: 2nd (2016)

Coffee: Colombia Gesha from La Palma y El Tucan

Milk: Ozark Mountain Creamery

Does your routine have a theme? Service


How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? A lot!

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
My sweet husband Jon Allen

Talya Strader, Equator Coffee & Teas, San Francisco, CA


Number of years as a barista: 16

Number of competitions: 7
Started in 2008. Ranked Top 6 in Regionals, not much to speak of for Nationals.

Coffee: Panama- Finca Sophia- Gesha

Does your routine have a theme? Just focused on the coffee and how/why it tastes the way that it does

What’s your playlist going to be? It will likely start with LCD Soundsystem


How many hours total do you think you’ve practiced for this competition? So far, 20-30 hours

Do you have a coach/coaches? Tell us about them!
Yes! Tovara Salley is my coach/roommate/best friend/ colleague/ and handler. She’s totally in charge. Devorah Freudiger is my supervisor and overall big time helper. She has connections and makes things possible.

Kyle Ramage, Mahlkonig USA, Durham, NC


. starts off with “Seasons.” Are they still FUTURE islands if the song came out in 2014?

Like with Regionals, is using frozen coffee. -79 deg C coffee, to be exact.

coffee for is a Panama Gesha from Finca Nuguo, grown at 1800MASL & honey processed. & then frozen.


Espresso notes for are jasmine, lime, and rainier cherry. Stir 15 times and enjoy!

Natural Panama Gesha milkies for has notes of wweet vanilla, dried cherry, raspberry jam, and cocoa.

“Mosaic hop tea, dark honey simple syrup, and a tartaric acid solution” comprising ‘s sig bev here at .

Matthew Barahura, Intelligentsia Coffee, Los Angeles, CA


We’re starting with milkies for Barahura with notes of apricot jam and milk chocolate.

Barahura’s soundtrack has so far had and . It’s just what I needed… for my heart of glass. I’ll leave now

Barahura’s coffee is fully washed from Tikur Anbessa, in Gedeb, Ethiopia.

Sig bev for Barahura includes raspberry syrup, mango juice, and cacao butter.

Espresso notes for Barahura include pomegranate, tangerine, and orange blossom.

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.