Sam Everyman Espresso
Sam Lewontin of Everyman Espresso

The 2016 US Coffee Championships Qualifying Event kicks off tomorrow in Kansas City, Missouri, and we’ll be covering the action for you in enormous detail across the Sprudge Media Network, including right here on SprudgeLive (follow us on Twitter! @sprudgelive like whoa). But the run-up to competition is its own special process, with endless hours spent training, preparing, and dialing in a competition routine to its very best form. One such training session went on last week at the Counter Culture Coffee training center in Manhattan. Friend o’Sprudge and occasional pseudonymous contributor Michael “Panda” Fernandez was there to follow the action—here’s a brief glimpse inside the session.

Jenna Everyman Espresso
Jenna Gotthelf of Everyman Espresso.

Michael “Panda’ Fernandez
Special to Sprudge Media Network

Practice, practice, practice! Friday afternoon Counter Culture Coffee (CCC) opened up their NYC training center doors to baristas, providing a space for them to run through their routines before the upcoming US Coffee Championships Qualifying Event in Kansas City. CCC staff ran the practice session in the same format as what competitors can expect week, when baristas from all over the country battle for a chance to earn a spot at nationals in Atlanta.

There were sensory judges, technical judges, and a fairly large audience in attendance at the CCC space in NoLita. Between routines the atmosphere was casual, with folks drinking beers and talking shop, but when the next barista was up the house went silent and all attention was directed their way.

Carlos Third Rail
Carlos Morales of Third Rail Coffee

I don’t want to give anyone’s routine away so all I’ll say is that New York is sending some fierce competitors to Kansas City y’all! Huge shoutout to CCC and everyone that was involved with planning & making this event possible. It is events like these that help to push the community forward not just by being there for competitors but by creating a space where people can gather together and collectively work on becoming better professionals. This is the kind of stuff that makes me so proud to work in the coffee industry.

Anna Charter Coffee
Anna Rozenberg of Charter Coffee

If you won’t be making the trip out, make sure to stay dialed in to sprudgelive.com for full Barista comp covereage. You can also follow my adventure over at @VisionsEspresso. High fives and hugs for all you competitors, See you next week!

Michael “Panda” Fernandez is the marketing & brand manager at Visions Espresso. He lives in New York City.