US Barista Championship Denver Qualifying Event, Day One Recap

All the Day One action from the US Barista Championship Denver Qualifying Event.

Day One of the Denver Qualifying Event for the US Barista Championship is officially in the books. It was an action-packed day full of 26 competitors, many of them new to coffee competition. The routines came in hot and heavy; even with only espresso and signature beverages on the docket today, the 10-minute performance times flew by. And indeed, we saw multiple competitors today break the 11-minute mark before calling time.

Overall, though, we are off to a rip roaring start to the US Coffee Championships Qualifying Event here in Denver. So let’s take a look back, shall we, at the day that was the Barista Championship here in beautiful if not a little chilly Denver, Colorado.

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.

Wesley Fowler, Ozo Coffee Co

Sooooo what did we miss?

Coffee today for Fowler is washed Caturra and Catuai varieties grown at 1600MASL in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

Flavors of candied orange, pomegranate, brown sugar, and a lingering dark chocolate finish in the 2:1 Guatemalan espressos for Fowler.

“Three stirs and generous pause” as well as thricely repeating the name of the coffee’s producer, Maria Margarita Ramirez Marcos, for Fowler’s espresso drinking instructions.

Nitro charged espresso with a lavender water spray for Fowler’s sig bev.

Joseph William Gonzalez, Espresso State of Mind

“Some buttered bread and cafe con leche” at his grandmother’s table is how Gonzalez started his coffee journey and how he starts his performance today.

La Hacienda Esmeralda Gesha from Boquete, Panama for Gonzalez today, who is kicking things off with the sig bev.

Rose hips, jasmine, coconut water, strained Gesha spro, and a touch of club soda for Gonzalez’s sig bev today, highlighting the tropical notes in the Gesha.

The New York influence is very heavy in Gonzalez’s performance today. Starting things off with a little NY hip hop and now a little “New York New York”.

Lots of florals and a nice orange pop finish for Gonzalez’s Hacienda La Esmeralda Gesha espresso course.

Dan Durakovich, Love Coffee Bar

Durakovich is competing with an Ethiopian coffee roasted from Guji roasted by , “one of his favorite coffees of the year.”

Jasmine, peach, coriander, with a grapefruit acidity for Durakovich’s Guji espresso course.

Macadamia nut milk, mint, coriander, and sparkling water gives Durakovich’s sig bev flavors reminiscent of a papaya creamsicle.

“Don’t fear the foam.” Wise words from Dan Durakovich.

Nicole Rochon, Presta Coffee Roasters

Theeeeeeeeeeese daaaaaaaaaays. Rochon starts her soundtrack with a little Jackson Browne and yeah maybe i’m crying a little bit. so what.

Rochon competes today with a washed processed Red Catuai produced by Juan Rafael Montero at Finca Monteroga in Costa Rica.

Sugary sweet aroma, yellow grapefruit juice, sweet molasses, with a lingering grapefruit pith sweetness for Rochon’s espresso course.

dark brown sugar simple syrup, tart cherry juice, homemade beet juice, garnished with an orange twist for Rochon’s sig bev.

Rochon’s sig bev served with a side of cream for the judges. First sip pre-cream is bright and juicy that changes into a creamsicle with the addition. It’s like 2 sig bevs in one.

Whit Hagemann, East Pole Coffee Co

Yoooooo shout out to Whit for using the old school BUNN coffee urn to serve water to the judges.

Hagemann competes today with a natural processed espresso from the Gedeb township in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia.

Peach, white tea florals, with a grapefruit finish for Hagemann’s natural processed Gedeb espressos.

“To pair service with kindness. To pair knowledge with greatness.” Hagemann’s theme is rich with southern hospitality.

Peach soda and refiltered espresso via AeroPress for Hagemann’s sig bev here at .

Whit Hagemann of East Pole Coffee in Atlanta, GA calls time at 10:00 exactly.

Tyrone Banks, Metric Coffee

Banks starts off his routine with little script, getting down to business behind the espresso machine.

Notes of key lime and tart cherry in Banks’ natural processed Honduran espresso.

Tonic water, lavender simple, and orange bitters served in a chilled gibralter for Bank’s sig bev. Notes of pineapple and cherry limeade.

It’s pretty cold here in Denver today, but all these sig bevs are transporting me to some remote tropical beach.

Mike Cannon, Nomad PNW

“Sprudge challenged us to bring a good soundtrack… so I dedicate this soundtrack to Sprudge because they’re the boss, they paid the cost.” If you’re trying to butter us up, Mike Cannon, IT. IS. WORKING.

Roasted yesterday, Cannon’s espresso is a Gesha from Nariño, Colombia, roasted by . This isn’t the coffee Cannon planned on competing with, but it’s hard to go wrong with anything roasted by Andy Sprenger.

Wine-like with notes of jasmine, maple, and cola sweetness from Cannon’s very, very fresh Gesha espresso.

ICED MOCHA CAPPUCCINOS! Cannon’s sig bev is “familiar but a little different.”

Justin Duren, Three Story Coffee

. competes with a natural processed Ethiopia, grown at 1900MASL in Dumerso.

“The coffee business is the people business.” –

Rose, ginger, subtle blueberry, and clemetine-like acidity in Duren’s Ethiopian espresso course.

Dumerso espresso, and a fresh blueberry and caramelized ginger infusion served over ice and sparkling water for ‘s sig bev.

Douglas Park, Independent

19g in to 38g out for Park’s espresso course, the wash processed Idido from Yirgacheffe, roasted by

“What was the first coffee that really changed your world?” For Park, it’s the Idido he is using today.

While making his espresso course, Park has 4 shots in a Cold Wave chiller, bring their temp down to 40 deg F.

Notes of lemon transitioning into jasmine and honeysuckle, finishing with sweet cantaloupe for Park’s Idido espressos.

Chilled espresso, ginger tea, and asian pear simple, shaken and served over an asian pear ice cube (also shaped like an asian pear), for Park’s sig bev.

Morgan Eckroth, Tried & True Coffee Co

“Unraveling the enigmatic nature of coffee is what brought me from a coffee shop regular to a coffee professional.” Eckroth’s script is punching above its weight class here. Really impressive first performance thus far.

Eckroth is competing with the natural processed Alma Negra, grown at1450MASL, processed at the Las Lajas micro mill in Costa Rica, and roasted by

Stirred 5 times, Eckroth’s espresso has notes of bright caramelized blueberries, sweet dark cherry, and cascara.

Dark cherry simple, cascara simple, and Alma Negra espresso, shaken with blueberry concentrate ice cubes for Eckroth’s sig bev.

Joshua Agbayani, Verve Coffee

“This gives me an opportunity to talk about two of my favorite things: communication and education… This give me an opportunity to talk about my style and persona through the lens of coffee.”

A Pacamara grown at 1600-1800MASL in Guatemala, Agbayani’s espresso has notes of lime zest, bing cherry acidity, and root beer sweetness.

Vietnamese cinnamon, Filipino lime, coffee honey, vanilla bean, cherry juice, and Pacamara espresso. Agbayani’s sig bev is the most involved of the day yet.

Joshua Agbayani of calls time at 9:50.

Kayla Baird, Joe Coffee Co

While some competitors are using Geshas and other “comp coffees,” Baird is using a Colombian coffee that is served year round at .

Silky, with notes of raspberry, tangerine, and caramelized sugar and toasted pecans for Baird’s espresso from Huila, Colombia.

Diluted clove tea, raspberry syrup, caramelized sugar, and burnt sugar, nitro charged and served with a chilled espresso for Baird’s sig bev course.

Bryan “B-No” Norris, Slate Coffee Roasters

“Water is foundation of life as we know it.” B-No is about to drop some serious knowledge on sustainable water usage at origin.

B-No competes with a natural Ethiopia Shakisso produced on a farm that dedicates half their land to coffee production and the other half to natural forest to create a permaculture.

For their espresso course, B-No’s natural Shakisso has a blackberry honey sweetness, red ruby grapefruit acidity, ceylon black tea bitterness, with a crisp and clean finish.

“Using my love of cocktail making…” What does B-No think this is? CIGS?

Hibiscus tea and blueberry juice get a nitro infusion for B-No’s sig bev course.

Joshua Davidson, Independent

Medium body, airy texture, tart lime like acidity in Davidson’s Burundi espressos, produced by

Sassafras, sarsaparilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg syrup, kefir lime juice, and sparkling mineral water in Davidson’s sig bev course.

San Francisco’s Joshua Davidson calls time at 9:41.

Kayla Herrera, Ecco Espresso & Gelato

Herrera is going with a little more developed coffee than a lot of what we see at , competing with a full city roast. I’m here for it.

Notes of caramel, nuttiness, and dark cocoa in Herrera’s full city espresso course.

I may have said some inflammatory things about the musical stylings of Beirut in the past, but Herrera’s use of Nantes—easily their best song—is pretty a-ok with me.

Herrera’s sig bev is based on the state dessert of New Mexico, the busco chica.

Topher Ou, Little Collins

Ou, a trained competitor, does NOT start his performance with ‘s trademark Lion King soundtrack. T. Ben doesn’t teach all his trade secrets, it seems.

When training with , Ou was asked, “how do you self-identify?” His answer: “I see myself as a Chinese immigrant who had to overcome a language barrier to work in the specialty coffee industry.”

18g in, 40g out in 30 seconds, Ou’s Guji espresso has notes of sweet lemon, dried apricot, cocoa powder, and black tea

Blending his Chinese and American background, Ou’s sig bev includes pu erh tea, rose petal syrup, and Guji espresso, shaken over ice.

Flavor calls on Ou’s sig bev include peach Snapple, tangerine, and dill.

Cameron Elliott, Heirloom Brewshop

Elliott starts his routine off with a little history of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Written by Mozart between 1781 and 1782 btw.

Elliott is competing with a coffee from Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the Buchiro washing station, roasted by

With Mozart’s variations playing in the background, Elliott’s routine is all about theme and variation.

For his spro, Elliott’s Buchiro expresses notes of bright orange, brown sugar, and baking spice.

Those flavors get varied in Elliott’s sig bev with the addition of apricot juice, bitters, and heavy cream, creating notes of orange sherbet, brown sugar, and clove

Meg Skop, Equator Coffees & Teas

We’ve got a blender on stage! Skop is mixin it up by starting things off with the sig bev course.

Golden monkey black tea from the Yunnan Province, white grape ice cube, and espresso all get a nitro charge for Skop’s sig bev.

Coffee for Skop today is a washed Ethiopian from the Gedeb estate Gedeo Zone, with notes of golden raisin, mandarin orange, and lowfat chocolate milk finish

Meg Skop of calls time at 9:58.

Allison Schwartz, The Morning Times

. competes today with a washed coffee from the Guji Zone in Ethiopia, roasted by .

do you remember, the 21st night of September. May this Earth, Wind, and Fire song on ‘s soundtrack never stop

Lemon and brown sugar notes in the Guji espresso course for .

White tea, blackberry and rosemary reduction, and coconut sugar simple all get a nitro charge for ‘s sig bev.

Saige Fuller, Hold Fast Coffee Co

Now up to the stage for the home team is Saige Fuller of Hold Fast Coffee Co in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Coffee today for Fuller is a natural processed Catuai from La Chumeca in San Pablo, Costa Rica.

Tangerine, dark chocolate, and cherry from Fuller’s La Chumeca espresso course.

Inspired by her mom’s wassail recipe, Fuller’s sig bev includes fresh pineapple, orange slices, cranberry syrup, honey, and lemon.

Hugo Cano, Independent

“Perfection is not an end, but more of a journey,” Cano tells the judges. “Perfection necessitates failure.”

Cano competes with a natural processed, “hot fermented” Gesha grown in the volcanic soils of Vulcan, Panama by

Cano is pulling big shots, 20g in to 62g out in 20 seconds, giving his espresso a blackberry and lemon acidity, with notes of cacao and lavender.

Sig bev for Cano is a “Purple Mocha,” comprised of 80% cacao dark chocolate from Chiapas, Mexico, steamed blackberry milk, and Gesha espresso, roasted by .


Cassie Ash, Small Planes Coffee

Moving on now, Cassie Ash of Small Planes Coffee is taking the Barista Comp stage

“Brewing coffee is transformation. It’s modern alchemy.” – Cassie Ash of

Transitive verbs, transactions, transmogrification, transcendence. Ash’s theme is Trans, and WE ARE HERE FOR IT.

Ash is competing today with a coffee from La Paz, Honduras.

Whole milk, white grape juice, and pureed raw persimmon in Ash’s Orange Julius-like sig bev. “It feels a bit like pudding but drinks like a milk shake”

Evan Pollitt, Summit Coffee

. competes today with a Colombia variety grown by Jairo Quinones in Huila, Colombia.

Citrus, semi-sweet chocolate, with a medium body and a smooth mouthfeel for ‘s espressos today.

tfw tells the judges to stir the espressos 6-7 times and you hear “67 times” and you think he’s just being really cruel to the judges.

Ingredients for ‘s sig bev include vanilla aged honey simple, macadamia milk, chinook hop tea, and grapefruit zest.

You may be asking yourself, “Does Pollitt’s sig bev have a nitro charge?” YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT HAS A NITRO CHARGE.

Maxwell Mooney, Narrative Coffee

Mooney tasted 50 coffees—50!!!—to decide on the coffee he is using today, a Colombia roasted by

Pineapple, pomegranate juice, applewood smoke, all nitrogenated for Mooney’s sig bev, giving notes of key lime pie, pineapple, white grape, and cloves.

Just got a lovely waft of Mooney’s applewood smoke and it just feels like fall now.

That Colombian coffee for Mooney is a Cidra variety—a hybrid of Bourbon and Typica—comes from the famed , a farm has a very deep relationship with.

Starfruit, blue raspberry, tart cherry, and pineapple, with an allspice finish in Mooney’s espresso course.

Heather McCullough, Novo Coffee

“In variety lies the flavor” – producer Luis Rodriguez tells McCullough of the Elephante variety coffee she is using today.

Red grapes, plum, almond paste, and a milk chocolate finish in McCullough’s Salvadoran espresso processed two different ways by producer Luis Rodriguez

Grape juice, sun-dried raisin reduction, lime juice, and juiced ginger in McCullough’s sig bev, giving flavors of dark cherry, amaretto, and tootsie roll.

Heather McCullough of calls time at 9:47

Hana Kaneshige, Counter Culture Coffee

“Coffee is about math. I’m talking about addition and subtraction, plain and simple. Coffee is what we add and what we take away.” – Hana Kaneshige

Kaneshige competes today with a natural processed coffee from a single-farm lot from the Hama region of Kochere in Ethiopia.

Notes of raspberry candy, lemon lime acidity, cacao nib, and candied walnut in Kaneshige’s natural Ethiopian espresso.

Cascara tea, grape and pomegranate juice, and espresso, all carbonated for Kaneshige’s sig bev reminiscent of peach tea with a squeeze of lemon.

Tune in tomorrow for Day Two’s coverage of the US Barista Championship Qualifying Event.