The 2018 US Coffee Championships Prelims: Weekend Three

Over one action-packed weekend in Greenville, Denver, and Washington, DC, brewers and baristas preliminarily competed in competitions, the third such weekend this season. These competitors are on the journey to the much-anticipated US Coffee Championship Qualifiers rounds, happening either this year or early next. From there, the national competition, where only two will be crowned US Brewers Cup and US Barista Champion. We had folks on the ground taking glorious photos of the three events and here they are in full color.

Washington, DC
Photographer: Farrah Skeiky

Participants in Washington, DC crowded Dolcezza Gelato. Absolutely *crowded* it—with over 2,400 tickets registered on EventBrite, this was by far the most attended preliminary in its short history. The coffee community in DC and surrounding areas poured in to witness this spectacle, made possible by the folks at Coffee District. Alexander Gable of Coffee District told Sprudge “[they] just to love to host people and throw parties. When Victor [Vasquez] and I first discovered that the SCA was taking applications from members to host the preliminaries, we signed up immediately because we knew it was going to be rad getting to do this in our hometown. D.C. often gets stigmatized by its obvious political conundrum, gentrification, and downtown tourist attractions, but this place can be magical if you stay out of the way of all that sour milk.”

Sponsors of the event also included Stumptown, Dolcezza, Small Planes, Vigilante, La Marzocco, Modbar, Five Acres Farms, Swiss Water Decaf, Pacific Foods, Curtis Wilbur, and Dim Sum DC Media (who took photos for us during the event!) The preliminary took place during Coffee District’s Coffee Fest, with events across the city. A post-competition feast was provided by Madeline Lewsen of The Dabney and the folks at Tail Up Goat, providing BBQ for the participants, with a case of Susucaru natural wine to wash it all down.

When we asked what made this event special, Alexander Gable said, “I think the space and the people involved made it special. We made a ton of amazing new friends, and all comments about how the event went were geared towards everyone having an exceptionally good time and it being very inclusive, and I think that’s all we could have asked for.”

Cara Nakagawa of Toby’s Estate competes in the Barista Competition.
Jenna Gothelf of Everyman Espresso, the top ranking barista reacts to the announcement in Washington, DC.

Washington, DC Preliminary Barista Competition Results:

Washington, DC Preliminary Brewers Cup Results:

Greenville, South Carolina
Photographer: Lem Butler

Ally Coffee hosted the Greenville “Southern” Preliminaries. A wedding venue was converted into a full-fledged competition arena. Nearly 140 people showed up with over seventy participants. “We chose to host this event because we believe in the power of competitions to advance the coffee industry,” said Ally Coffee US Sales Manager James Tooill. Ally’s support of the competitions goes further than hosting, as they sponsor origin travel prizes at the US Nationals and World level, sponsor green coffee for the US Roasters Competition and World Cup Tasters. When the opportunity to organize a preliminary event presented itself, “it made perfect sense for us to host because we have already been doing so much to support competitions globally that we also wanted to support locally!”

“We had originally planned to host this event as a grand opening party for our new office which is going to be 7,000 sq ft of coffee lab awesomeness,” Tooill explained, “Unfortunately, permitting delays prevented this. It was a lot of work for our team to host this offsite and I’m very proud of Team Ally for pulling it off. Of course, what really made it special was every single person that took the time and energy to build coffee community!”

You can’t host a preliminary on your own, and sponsors Ancap, Mahlkonig, Nuova Simonelli, Due South Coffee, Counter Culture Coffee, 1000 Faces, and Spirit Tea all helped make this event an action-packed, coffee/tea-fueled professional development rager.

Here are the Southern Prelim rankings:

Greenville Preliminary Barista Competition Results:

Greenville Preliminary Brewers Cup Results:

Denver, Colorado
Photographer: Daniel Mendoza

Participants from California, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas took part in the preliminary programming in Denver, Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance threw the shindig, with the support of Novo Coffee and about twenty coffee companies across the country.

When asked why the RMCCA decided to host, Josh Taves (RMCCA Vice Chair and Quality Control and Business Development Manager at Novo Coffee) told us, “The Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance’s mission statement is that we are a group focused on developing community among coffee enthusiasts, both consumer and professional, through education, collaboration events, and networking all along the Rocky Mountain region. We felt like we had the ideal vision and reach to be able to host a great event through collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee community and that the USCC Preliminaries would be a great way to showcase the hard work and community spirit of our members.

It wasn’t just competitions—oh, no—beverages were flowing for all with a pour-over booth from Spur Coffee, Nitro Cold Brew from Novo Coffee, and a tea service from Spirit Tea. “Fleet Coffee sponsored a cool party also at a board game bar,” Taves added.

Hosts teamed up with Toddy, Novo Coffee, Huckleberry Coffee Roasters, and Sweetbloom Coffee, Logan House Coffee, Moru Coffee, Loyal Coffee, Morning Fresh Farms. Prizes were furnished by Synesso, Rhino Coffee Gear, AeroPress, Amethyst Coffee, Cherry Roast, Middlestate Coffee, La Marzocco, and Corvus Coffee. Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance.

For Josh Taves, “the comradery and teamwork spirit of the event brought together a huge array of people, companies, and ideas under one roof for a united purpose and it was so cool to be a part of that.”

Denver Preliminary Barista Competition Results:

Denver Preliminary Brewers Cup Results:

The fourth and last weekend of preliminary events take place this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky. Follow us on Instagram for the latest from these events!