2019 US Barista Championship Finals Recap

Wow wow wow what a day it was here at the Final round of the US Barista Championships in Kansas City, Missouri. It seems like something we say ever year, but every year we mean it: these were some of the strongest performances we have seen at a coffee competition. But given the competitors’ previous results, it makes sense; the six Finalists today placed first, second, and third in both the Nashville and Denver Qualifying Events. These were the heavy favorites to make it to the Finals, and here they are, every last one.

We have yet to find out who will be crowned champion, and to be honest, we haven’t the slightest idea at this point. Call any of the six names and we’d all nod and say, “well of course they won.” Will it be Andrea Allen in her fourth consecutive Finals appearance? That would make sense. What about Sam Neely, making their second Finals in as many years competing? Definitely. Or what about the Glitter Cats T. Ben Fischer and Emily Orendorff? I’m sold. Maybe Sam Spillman will bring Dillano’s another title? I could definitely see that. Or could it be former US Brewers Cup champion Dylan Siemens? I mean, he’s already won so it would make sense for him to do it again.

The point is that we have no idea. So while we let the judges do the seemingly impossible and pick a winner—might we suggest rolling a six-sided die?—let’s take a look back at the routines from Day Three, the Finals of the US Barista Championship.

SprudgeLive’s coverage of the 2019 US Coffee Champs is made possible by Joe Glo and Mahlkönig. All of SprudgeLive’s 2019 competition coverage is made possible by AcaiaBaratzaFaemaCafe Imports, and Wilbur Curtis.

Sam Neely, Switchback Coffee Roasters, Colorado Springs, CO

“I want to tell you the story of the coffee I’m serving today. And I can’t think of a better way to tell a story than over a milk beverage” — of

The ease of performance by makes it easy to see why they now have two finals appearances in two years of competing. But also, HOW? No one should be this good this quickly, right?

Coffee today for is a 60/40 blend of natural and washed processed Geshas from . In 4oz of milk, it has notes of chocolate malt, dark chocolate covered cherries, and rum raisin.

For their lactic washed Gesha-based sig bev, blends lemongrass simple, separated milk, and blackberry concentrate, finished off with a jasmine fog.

For the final course, opted for espresso, whose lactic acid La Palma has notees of tangerine, pomegranate, floral honey, and lime zest.

Sam Neely of in Colorado Springs, CO calls time at 14:56.

Andrea Allen, Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, AR

This is Allen’s fourth consecutive Finals appearance at the USBC. She’s a back-to-back runner-up whose looking to make that last step.

Allen competes today with a Gesha from Cafe Granja La Esperanza, specifically the Cerro Azul farm. As an espresso, Allen’s Gesha presents flavors of cherry, pink grapefruit, and rose.

Allen is letting the voices of Cafe La Esperanza literally do the talking during her routine with a recording of the producers.

“Trust is the key to raising the floor of coffee.” Allen placed her trust in Rigoberto Herrera of La Esperanza, who chose the coffee Allen would use for her milk course. Herrera chose a natural processed Gesha.

For her sig bev, Allen incorporates espresso, champagne mangos, avocados, cherries, coffee cherries, combined under pressure via CO2, all run through a cold press juicer. Then poured over mixture of blackberry compote, kefir, and mandarin chocolate truffle.

Andrea Allen of in Springdale, AR calls time at 14:58

Emily Orendorff, Boxcar Coffee Roasters, Boulder, CO

. asks her judges to write down what in coffee motivates them as she works on pulling her first round of shots.

. competes today with a cold process anaerboic natural Java variety coffee, grown on Finca Limoncillo in Matagalpa, Nicaragua by Erwin Mierisch.

Those Finca Limoncillo espressos for express notes of 75% dark chocolate, clementine, and sweet tobacco.

When combined with 2% milk, the dark chocolate, clementine, and sweet tabacco notes in ‘s espresso transforms into milk chocolate and butterscotch.

“Too often coffee asks us to run a marathon, but many sprint and grow tired” — speaks of burnout affecting both the cafe and the farm.

The answer to the problem of burnout? Transparency.

For her sig bev, combines fermented blackberry juice, date syrup, and Java espresso, all combined in a vacuum-sealed blender, finished off with a bergamot rimmed glass

Emily Orendorff of in Boulder, CO calls time at 15:00.

T. Ben Fischer, Elixr Coffee Roasters, Philadelphia, PA

. starts off his service with the espresso course, using a coffee from in Colombia, expressing notes of apricot, raspberry, semi-sweet chocolate.

It is not a T. Ben performance without a Disney song. We had a little Hakuna Matata as well as a little Be Our Guest.

For the milk course, serves the judges 1:4 espresso to fractionally distilled milk cappuccinos, having notes of dried cherry and chocolate mousse.

That coffee for ‘s milk course is a 50/50 Gesha Castillo blend from La Palma. He will also use this same blend for his sig bev.

Sig bev for is incorporates v60 filtered espressos, whey from paper filtered kefir, pineapple juice, and jasmine flower simple, finished off with jasmine vapor trapped under a wine glass.

T. Ben Fischer of in Philadelphia, PA calls time at 14:46

Samantha Spillman, Dillanos Coffee Roasters, Seattle, WA

Spillman competes today with a coffee from from Colombia, the second barista (but not the last) of the finals to do so.

Really enjoying this Chet Faker remix of No Diggity in Spillman’s soundtrack.

“Proper preparation involves patience and persistence” — Spillman win 1st place in the USBC elocution championships.

Spillman’s La Palma coffee is a carbonic macerated, lactic acid fermented Gesha that as an espresso has notes of peach, raspberry, and pomegranate with a jasmine aroma.

Spillman’s employer, , was also the roaster for ‘s 2014 USBC win. Will this be Dillanos second win?

Sig bev for Spillman includes a passionfruit sipping vinegar, lychee infused soda water, and hyperchilled espresso finished with an orchid aromatic mist.

Spillman finishes up her routine right at 14 minutes, leaving her more than enough time to do some tidying up before call time at 14:36.

Dylan Siemens, Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, AR

Siemens competes with a lactic processed Gesha from in Colombia, grown at 1800MASL.

Four of the finalists here at the USBC competed with a coffee from La Palma. It’s not unfair to say that they are having a bit of a moment in coffee competition right now.

You know who else is having a moment? . Of the four Finals competition today, Onyx has five competitors in them. Hot take here: Onyx is really good at coffee competition.

Siemens’ lactic acid Gesha espresso has notes of pink grapefruit, rose, and cacao nib.

DOES NO ONE’S HANDS SHAKE WHEN POURING IN THE FINAL ROUND OF THE USBC?!?!?! I’m becoming convinced these competitors aren’t human

Caramel, cashew, and chocolate ice cream in Siemens’ La Palma Gesha milk beverages.

Raw grated panela sugar, mango juice, raspberry clarified milk, and espresso all get nitrogen infused, served in teku glasses in Siemens’ sig bev

Dylan Siemens of in Springdale, AR calls time at 14:38