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 Two 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 Sprudge.com. Want to use these photos? Please email us!
Information is compiled from the @SprudgeLive livetweet feed, as called by Sprudge co-founder Jordan Michelman.
Mr. Littlefield competes coffee from La Pena Miel, Nicaragua–learn more via Irving Farm’s website.
This is a yellow catuai coffee from Nicaragua, processed as a natural — more wild, weird processing experiments here at Big Eastern! It taste likes “banana, kiwi, and peanut butter” as espresso.
This routine featured Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc.
Sig drink for Mr. Littlefield includes pears & yellow mango, nitrogen charged water, natural espresso. Shout out to all the pear.
Josh Littlefield calls time at 14:58.
Mr. Lewontin’s competing here at #BigEastern with Counter Culture Coffee’s Finca Los Alpes, grown by @aidabatlle in El Salvador. “Nectarine and grapefruit” notes in Los Alpes as espresso, with a “beautiful sweetness and crisp acidity.” Learn more about this coffee here.
Mr. Lewontin’s routine dropped serious service knowledge, touching on the myriad of ways in which service impacts flavor, while maintaining a thorough and deceptively easy control of service himself with the judges.
Signature drink for Mr. Lewontin includes chrysanthemum flower syrup, white vinegar, muddled grapefruit peel, and ice, stirred to dilute and finished with a grapefruit oil spritz, served in a lowball glass — “simple and accessible” flavors.
“It’s important to know when to step back & let my guests enjoy just a cup of coffee.” — Sam Lewontin.
Sam Lewontin calls time at 15:01.
Anna Utevsky’s another competitor here at Big Eastern competing on behalf of a James Beard award-winning restaurant — Joule Coffee in Raleigh is owned by chef Ashley Christensen. On Day One we enjoyed the routine from Nathan Nerswick, of Beard-honored chef Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South in Atlanta.
Utevsky’s one of several competitors this weekend competing with Counter Culture Coffee’s Ethiopia Olke Birre — for Anne Utevsky, this coffee’s got “candied orange, early grey, and a sweet melon nose.”
Sig drink for Anna Utevsky includes juniper berries & roots, espresso on ice, liquid whey, and saison wort.
For cappuccinos, Utevsky’s blending Olke Birre with coffees from other Haru producers, to help round out the drink. Capp notes include “Hershey kisses, subtle lemon, and a nice vanilla richness.”
Anna Utevsky calls time at 15 flat.
23. Steven Latham, Box Kite, NYC @boxkitenyc
For Mr. Latham, that Kenya Kirura’s got a “rich, autumnal savoriness” amplified by the “rich, red volcanic soil” this coffee is grown in. The ends result is “a somewhat cerebral sensory experience.”
Mr. Latham’s cappuccinos have notes of “Fig Newton” and “bittersweet milk chocolate” — our Twitter feed would descend into a morass of exultation over Fig Newtons as a foodstuff, culminating in the delivery of Fig Newtons to our commentary booth the next day by an enterprising BoxKite staff member.
Sig drink for Mr. Latham: sorghum syrup, Concord grapes, black cardamom steeped with espresso over spherified ice. All drinks in this routine were down by the 14:20 mark — a solid target.
Steven Latham calls time at 15 minutes flat.
24. Josh Bonnano, Buddy Brew Coffee, Tampa, FL @buddybrewcoffee
This routine began with Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on the soundtrack. This song has become a totem of sorts for how our live coverage of these events interacts with wider cultural norms. That is to say, for this season at least, we freak out when it comes on.
Hey! Cool espresso notes — “pink grapefruit and lemon” notes here, with “a long coconut sweetness.”
As a side note, Buddy Brew’s new cafe in the Oxford Exchange down in Tampa is absolutely gorgeous looking.
“Do good, brew good is the philosophy we live by at Buddy Brew.” — Josh Bonnano.
Sig drink for Mr. Bonnano is a “Tiki tea”, with fruit flavors like you might find in a Tiki cocktail, where the espresso “acts like a bitters would in a mixed drink.”
Josh Bonnano calls time at 14:40.
25. Ann Mallozzi, New Harvest Coffee Roasters, Pawtucket, RI @nharvestcoffee
“I love coffee, and I love history” — this routine would explore both!
Ann Mallozzi’s training regime summed up thusly: “Blasting Queen late night in the lab, ripping shots.”
“Graham cracker, cinnamon, and a buttery mouthfeel” in Ann Mallozzi’s Ethiopian capps. For a signature drink that Ethiopia Misty Valley gets combined with chocolate syrup, cherry & lime juice, allspice, and sparkling water.
Ann Mallozzi calls time at 14:50.
Mr. Liu starts the judges with a “sensory practice of olfactory coating” — breathing exercises on stage!
Mr. Liu’s espresso is Guatemala El Tambor by @tobysbrooklyn — learn more & take some home. As an espresso this coffee has the aroma of “orange liqueur”, and as a cappuccino there’s a “macadamia nut flavor with a milk chocolate sweetness and velvety body.”
Mr. Liu’s signature drink features a “huge block of salt”, superheated to 400 degrees to emanate vapors. He’s pairing that with lemon juice, honey water, & rose.
“We’re all in this for the hustle of loving what we do and being able to learn with each other”–Jonathen Liu.
Jonathen Liu calls time at 14:50.
27. Seth Cook, Northside Social, Arlington, VA @northsidesocial
We’ve got another Olke Birre sighting! This Ethiopian producer’s ears were buzzing all weekend, with his coffees being served by competitors throughout Big Eastern. You can play along from home here.
Espresso specs for Seth Cook: 19.5g dose, 31.5g yield, pulled for 22 seconds, with a 1 : 1.62 extraction ratio.
Sig drink for Seth Cook took Olke Birre in a different direction, with SE Asian twist: keffir lime & coconut palm syrup, coconut water, espresso.
Seth Cook calls time at 15:32.
28. Sean Hundley, One Line Coffee, Columbus, OH @onelinecoffee
Our first competitor of the weekend from Ohio, and a short word about that — Ohioans have to travel really far for these events on the east coast. Ohio’s coffee scene is a lot more connected culturally and socially to the Big Central region, and to cities like Chicago and Detroit. Not trying to gerrymander here, just saying…
But once you travel all that way, why not rep Ohio hard? Sean Hundley’s competing with Ohio milk from @hartzlerdairy, a three-generation dairy farm in Wooster, Ohio.
Mr. Hundley’s coffee is from Finca Grapos from Chiapas, Mexico — learn more, take some home via One Line.
That’s no cheap-ass Chiapas, y’all — this Mexican coffee from Oaxaca is comprised of h17 and h19 hybrid varieties — crossed between Caturra and Ethiopian heirlooms. This coffee was sourced via Cafe Imports’ Lo Mejor de Mexico event last year, and you can learn much more about it here via Cafe Imports.
Signature drink for Mr. Hundley is the “Punch Drunk Shrub” –blueberry shrub (from Ohio!), honey syrup (from Ohio!), and Finca Grapos (from, er, Ohio by way of Mexico!).
Serving his drink to the judges, Sean Hundley says, “I hope it thrills.”
Sean Hundley calls time at 15:05.
Sarah Leslie competes with Gimme! Coffee’s Colombia Finca San Luis — learn more here, take some home.
As a cappuccino, Finca San Luis has notes of “milk chocolate, vanilla, and dulce de leche” — those are classic cappuccino notes and they sound delicious.
Signature drink: coconut milk & orange zest, charged into a foam, topping espresso over ice with apricot nectar. “Espresso becomes the balancing act here, like a sweet cocoa.”
Sarah Leslie calls time at 15:05.
Mr. Butterworth’s competing w/ a fully washed Ethiopian heirloom coffee, from the Konga cooperative, roasted by Quills Coffee in Louisville. As an espresso it’s got “peach, jasmine, and lemongrass” notes.
For capps, Mr. Butterworth shifts to Quills’ Mexico El Eden, a coffee you can learn more about here via Quills.
Sig drink: elderflower & wild honey syrup, cacao extraction, raspberry vinegar, El Eden espresso. Components are served individually to the judges, who become part of the process by combining ingredients.
Michael Butterworth calls time at 14:26.
“When we exclude an entire country, we close ourselves off to the possibilities” –this routine was built as a kind of call to action in favor of reconsidering coffees from Brazil. Wilson’s coffee comes from Fazenda Santa Lucia.
As a cappuccino this Santa Lucia tastes lke “milk chocolate, nougat, and peanut — think @SNICKERS.” As an espresso the Santa Lucia boasts a “dense, velvety, creamy body” with “apple & soft lemon acidity” and a “toasted peanut & caramel finish.” Quite the coffee, all in all.
Hadassah Wilson’s signature drink is a riff on the caipirinha, appropriate for her Brazil-centric #bigeastern routine. Think homemade caramel sauce, bittersweet apple peel solution, ice, and espresso.
Hadassah Wilson calls time at 14:52.
32. Morgan Logan, Muggswigz Coffee & Tea Co., Canton, OH @muggswigz
Signature drink for Morgan Logan is “single macchiato with raw sugar and strawberry juice” made from strawberries she personally picked!
Morgan Logan calls time at 13:40.
33. Rachel Philibert, Blue Bottle Coffee, NYC @bluebottleroast
“Acidity is one of the most exciting aspects of coffee, but it can be intimidating” — Rachel Philibert.
Rachel Philibert competes with a coffee from the Tolima department of Colombia, roasted by Blue Bottle.
“Cappuccinos are an amazing way to make acidity more approachable” — Morgan Logan. Hers have “sweet myer lemon, hazelnut, and a bittersweet cocoa.”
Rachel Philibert calls time at 15:12.
As an espresso Ruli Mountain’s got “tart tangerine, delicate green apple body, sweet caramel finish.”
“Cranberry, a buttery texture, pecan pie, and finishing with sweet malt” — @Jonom5 on his Rwanda cappuccinos.
Signature drink is a coffee popsicle! Grape & tangerine juice with Rwandan espresso, chilled with ginger root
Jono Moehlig calls time at 15 minutes flat.
Fair warning: Jonathan Amos stepped in to this competition slot at the very last second, when a previously scheduled competitor from La Colombe Philadelphia dropped out. Mr. Amos had minimal prep time, and mostly took the stage to have fun and gain some experience.
Mr. Amos competes with La Colombe’s Colombia San Roque, part of the company’s Workshop by La Colombe line. Learn more, take some home!
Espressos are pre-ground on and EK43 and dosed with a sieve! Shots are transferred from their original vessel to decant and cool! The shots taste like cherries and chocolate. The cappuccinos taste like “chocolate cherry cordial.”
“When customers experience coffee in a new way, that’s what really excites me” — Jonathan Amos.
Jonathan Amos well exceeded his allotted 16 minutes on stage here at Big Eastern, becoming the 7th DQ of the tournament.
36. Maxwell Hostetter, The Coffee Fox, Savannah, GA
The Coffee Fox is a wholesale partner of PERC Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster in the lovely and charming city of Savannah, Georgia.
“Creamy lemon, white chocolate, & butterscotch” capps — signature drinks with chilled espresso, ginger simple syrup, honey, and a healthy updose of love.
Maxwell Hostetter calls time at 15:40.
Lem Butler’s an astounding 4-time Southeast regional champion & the winningest SE competitor ever.
Check out these cappuccino notes: “Milk chocolate, sweet malt, a pillowy, creamy body, and in the finish…the shadowy existence of baked lemon tart.”
Sig drink for Mr. Butler is called “The Upgrade”, keeping in a long tradition of cool names for Lemuel Butler’s signature drink creations. “The Upgrade” contains cashew milk, coconut powder, peaches, salt, chilled Thiriku, tonic water, and it’s finished with a gardenia spritz.
“There are no drinking instructions–just enjoy.”
Lem Butler calls time at 14:48.