Big Eastern Barista Competition Day Three Recap

SprudgeLive’s coverage of the 2015 Big Eastern Regional Barista Competition is made possible by direct support from the event’s hosts, Wilbur Curtis Company and Counter Culture Coffee, with additional support from our partners at BonaVita

All of SprudgeLive’s 2015 USBC and WBC barista competition coverage is underwritten in partnership with Square

We’re proud to serve as official media partners of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

This is a recap of Day Three action at the 2015 Big Eastern Barista Competition in Durham, North Carolina, happening November 21st-23rd, 2014.

All photos are by Sprudge co-founder Zachary Carlsen for Want to use these photos? Please email us! 

Information is compiled from the @SprudgeLive livetweet feed, as called by Sprudge co-founder Jordan Michelman.

38. Ali Mugiraneza, Cafe Grumpy, NYC @cafegrumpy


“Coffee for me is like a love journey.” — Ali Mugiraneza was a surprise favorite for our staff here on Day Three. A first-time competitor hailing from Rwanda, Mr. Mugiraneza’s routine was deeply impacted by his childhood spent farming coffee alongside his family.

“I am from Rwanda. I grew up on a coffee farm, & it was one of the hardest jobs I have ever known.” — Ali Mugiraneza.


In some ways this routine registered as feeling “international”, or like the kind of routine we’re more used to calling at the World Barista Championship level. But that’s not to say it felt out of place here at Big Eastern, or that it was in any way “less” American or normative. He’s lived in Brooklyn for a few years, and moved to the United States from Rwanda before speaking English fluently. Most Brooklyn residents have only lived there a few months! Is a transplant from Kansas really that different than a transplant from Kigali? NYC is a world away from a lot of places.

This is not any less American of a routine — this is perhaps the most American routine, which is to say it is an immigrant narrative in nation defined and united by these stories across generations.


Anyway, go Ali Mugiraneza, this routine was awesome and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Mr. Mugiraneza served up a Guatemala Hunapu and Ethiopia blend from Cafe Grumpy, with a sig drink that combined espresso and ginger.

“I don’t just want to be a barista,” he told the crowd. “I want to be an advocate for farmers all over the world.” And today you were!

39. Steph Caronna, La Farm Bakery, Cary, NC @coffeesteph8876 @lafarmcary


Ding! That’s the Olke Birre bell–this Ethiopian producer had quite a weekend for himself at Big Eastern. Olke Birre, you’re famous! Learn more about this coffee and take some home. In Steph Caronna’s hands, Olke Birre’s coffee has “peach and italian basil” notes.

Steph Caronna competes with “Howling Cow” milk from North Carolina State Veterinary Program dairy, yielding flavors of “lemon & peach pastry” as a cappuccino.


“Peach slushie” is the style for Steph Caronna’s signature drink — frozen peaches, Olke Birre ice cubes, espresso.

Steph Caronna calls time at 14:55.

40. Tery Honeyghan, Peregrine Espresso, Washington DC @peregrineDC


Tery Honeyghan’s competing wiht a blend of washed bourbon El Salvadoran and Ethiopia Wolensa coffees, roasted by  here in Durham. Espressos taste like “lime citrus, cocoa nibs, and raisins.”

“This espresso is the sweetness of gathering after centuries of scattering.” — Tery Honeyghan.

Tery Honeyghan’s capps taste like “raisin pastry…buttery notes with raisin sweetness throughout.”


Sig drink for Tery Honeyghan: cocoa butter, raisin simple syrup & lime, glazed on top of a heated pink salt block ala The Meadow and Mark Bitterman. That glazed salt block then gets clay cups placed atop it, to form flavored condensation inside the vessels. Damn!

Tery Honeyghan calls time at 14:55.

41. Trevor Corlett, MadCap Coffee Company, Washington DC @tjorlet@madcapcoffee


This is Trevor Corlett’s astonishing 8th consecutive USBC regionals appearance, making him like some combination of coffee game Dirk Nowitzki and Cal Ripken.

“A really great coffee is going to shine regardless of the situation you put it in.”

Mr. Corlett’s competing using ‘s Mexico Finca Chelin, from Candelaria, Oaxaca. It’s comprised of the pluma variety, which we’ve never heard of before, and has been fermented with champagne yeast, which we’ve never heard of producers using before. That’s the hook of this routine: take risks.


Flavor note for ‘s espressos include “dried apples, subtle grapefruit, and dark chocolate…with a dry red wine” mouthfeel.

That Finca Chelin from ‘s getting pulled at 20 grams in, 45 grams out, with a 40 second contact time.

Champagne yeast influences ‘s signature drink, which he calls the Spro-Bubbly: lemon juice, natural yeast soda, chilled espresso, apple cider foam, garnished w/ cardamom soaked apple.


“Please go out and risk in the pursuit of quality.”

Trevor Corlett calls time at 15:11.

42. Michael Harwood, Ceremony Coffee, Anapolis, MD @bluebarista @ceremonycoffee


Mr. Harwood’s competing with 3 distinct offerings — San Jose Ocana from Guatemala for espresso, which you can learn more about here. This espresso has “Bounty Bar sweetness, blood orange acidity…silky, round, and smooth.”

Heritage cows from Virginia produced the milk for ‘s capps — 50% whole milk, 50% skim.


“Perhaps no coffee is as intrinsically complex as a well-produced Kenyan.” — Michael Harwood’s competing with Ceremony Coffee’s Kenya Gondo, pick some up here.

Signature drink: hibiscus, mallic & phosphate acid, MSG, gum arabic, glycerine bitters, and sparkling H20. The end result is “sweet, tart, berry-like drink…a juicy, complex beverage.”


Michael Harwood calls time at 14:57.

43. Anna Rozenberg, Rex, NYC @rexcoffeeNYC


REX NYC is located in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of west Manhattan. Lower Manhattan types, it’s not that far! Take a cab whydoncha?

Anna Rozenberg’s competing here at with coffee from the Thiriku cooperative in Nyeri, Kenya–take some home! It’s got a “a berry sweetness and complex cocoa finish” as a cappuccino.

Sig drink for Anna Rozenberg was a real doozy, and included a roasted brussel sprout & olive oil infusion rinse!


Brussel sprouts, Kenyan espresso, mustard, hibiscus syrup, and maple syrup sig drink. 42 competitors went on before Anna Rozenberg and they had NOTHING on this drink!

Anna Rozenberg calls time at 14:50.

44. Tim Jones, Jubala Coffee, Raleigh, NC @timmjones @jubalacoffee


This publication can wholeheartedly recommend the coffee & biscuits at Jubala Coffee, one of the best cafes in the Triangle in our humble opinion.

Mr. Jones competes here at Big Eastern with a Counter Culture Coffee Ethiopian…but not the one you’re thinking of! No Olke Birre this time, and instead we get Aleme Wako Ethiopian natural–learn more.


Sig drink for TIm Jones is inspired by the classic Manhattan cocktail, cherry and all. This spin on the standby takes cold brew, pomegranate molasses & brown sugar, espresso, a cold brew ice cube, and tonic.

Tim Jones of Jubala Coffee calls time at 15:39.