US Barista Championship Knoxville Qualifying Event, Day One


Good afternoon from charming Knoxville, Tennessee! Sprudge Media Network is pleased to bring you this day one barista competition coverage of the Knoxville qualifying competitions for the 2017 U.S Coffee Championships. Coverage comes to you live from Knoxville, TN, produced by Zac Cadwalader with photography by Charlie Burt and Elizabeth Chai. Follow us @SprudgeLive on Twitter for livetweet coverage of the barista competition all weekend long, and follow @Sprudge on Instagram and Facebook for reporting from around the event.’s coverage of the 2017 US Coffee Champs is made possible by Urnex Brands and Nuova Simonelli.

Louis Colon, FUEGO COFFEE ROASTERS, Rochester, NY – 198 pts


Our first competitor is Louis Colon of Fuego Coffee Roasters in Rochester, NY

And comes out of the gate strong on the soundtrack with Shake It Out by

Competitors have the option of Peak or EK43 grinders on stage to use during their run. Colon chose the Peak.

Sig bevs for Colon include hibiscus syrup and sparkling water, playing on the grapefruit notes in his Kenyan spro.

Chris Vigilante, VIGILANTE COFFEE CO, Hyattsville, MD – 194.5 pts


“I knew I needed to dedicate myself to develop my craft”

Vigilante competes with a coffee from today, the Kemgin from Ethiopia.

That Kemgin from Ethiopia is fully washed & grown at 1900MASL. Notes of roasted cashews, lemongrass, tea, crisp apple, & pear

For sig bev, Vigilante is using a shrub w/ pomegranate, blueberry, green apple, and pear.

Kyle Ramage, MAHLKONIG USA, Raleigh, NC – 276 pts


Yep, that’s frozen coffee going into the EK hopper for .

A frozen, I repeat frozen, washed Yirgacheffe for . Notes of peach, tangerine, honey sweetness, citrus peel & cocoa finish

“Stir this [espresso] 20 times. I know that’s a lot”

notes of passion fruit, tamarind, & anise in the nitrous charged sig bev for .

David Hall, KALDI’S COFFEE ROASTING CO, St. Louis, MO – 207.5 pts


A natural processed coffee from Nicaragua grown at 1400MASL today for Hall.

This Pacamara variety coffee has brown sugar sweetness & golden apple acidity for Hall’s espresso course.

Sig bevs for Hall include coffee blossom tea, unsweetened cashew, & pineapple juice.

With a caramel sweetness, malic acidity, syrupy mouthfeel. Think caramel apple for Hall’s sig bev.

Sarah Wallick, BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE, Oakland, CA – 193 pts


Wallick is using a Guatemala coffee from Santa Isabel grown by Luiz Valdez.

And shout out to Wallick for her very dope shirt.

Micah Sherer, ALLY COFFEE, Greenville, SC – 253 pts


Sherer is competing with a honey processed Sumatran coffee from the Wahana Estate grown at 1300MASL.

Wild flower & tropical fruit aromas, w/ flavors of black & tart cherry, dark chocolate, muscadine grape, & a lime acidity in Sherer’s spro

It may be too early to officially call but tannic acidity (grapes) will be to 2017 Barista Comp was papaya was to 2016 & Meyer Lemon to 2015

Hibiscus and tannic acid in Sherer’s sig bev, with an orange rind rim.

Evan Pollitt, SUMMIT COFFEE CO, Cornelius, NC – 177.5 pts


Pollitt competes with a 100% Caturra, natural processed Nicuragua grown at 1300-1500MASL.

Nicaraguan spro for Pollitt has a medium body, caramel & orange sweetness, and sweet grape aroma.

Orange juice and guava pairing with that Nicaraguan spro for Pollitt’s sig bev.

Collin Schneider, BESPOKEN COFFEE ROASTERS, Corvalis, OR – 240 pts


Schneider is pulling at judges’ hearts strings w/ pictures of his kids. We got a lot of new parents here at sprudge, so it’s working on us.

Trying to keep up with these spro tasting notes for Schenider. Kumquat marmalade, tea, chicory bitters, there was a shrub in there.

That’s a Kenya Karuthi bringing all that fire for Schneider.

Cascara, chicory, honey shrub, Karuthi cold brew (wood aged), spro, & nitrous in Scheider’s sig bev.

Robbie Melton, STEADFAST COFFEE, Nashville, TN – 207 pts


I would be remiss to not mention ‘s very exceptional beard and mustache. It’s very good.

Coffee for is a natural processed from the famed Finca La Lajas in Costa Rica, grown by Francisca and Oscar Chacon

“Pineapple confectionary sweetness” aroma in ‘s La Lajas.

Hard to concentrate on ‘s routine when you’re so mesmerized by the rhythmic undulation of his beard. It’s magical.

Cris Mendoza, SAINT FRANK COFFEE, San Francisco, CA – 238.5 pts


“One thing I love about specialty coffee is terroir, the taste of place” – Chris Mendoza of

One can’t help but wonder if Mendoza is trying to butter up his judge, Jon Allen, co-owner of and Terroir Chocolates.

There’s some sort of smoke action going on stage for Mendoza.

cherry jelly dried cherry juice and smoke in that sig bev for Mendoza.

Jonathan Miller, MADCAP COFFEE, Grand Rapids, MI – 198 pts


Miller talkin’ perceptions of customers who ask about butter coffee & pre-ground, droppin’ truth bombs

Butter honey syrup and tamarind simple syrup in Miller’s sig bev

This cover of Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home” in Miller’s soundtrack is very nice.

Notes of blackberry and plum in Miller’s espresso course. He’s the first competitor to serve the sig bev first instead of the espresso

Christopher Owens, PREVAIL UNION COFFEE, Auburn, AL – 85.5 pts (dq)


coffee today for Owens is from the Santa Rosa region of Guatemala. grown at 1300MASL in volcanic soil.

Some very chill down tempo happening rn in Owens routine. very chill

Baker’s chocolate, brown sugar, and lemon zest in Owen’s Guatemalan espresso.

Sichuan peppercorn, juniper, fennel, and in Owens’ sig bev.

Allison Bouley, PEREGRINE ESPRESSO, Washington DC – 205 pts


Espresso for Bouley has notes of red grape, almond, and chocolate, roasted by

Bouley’s espresso is from Finca El Moral in Honduras.

Sig bev for Bouley includes cranberries, all spice berries, lemon & El Moral spro, “reminiscent of mulled wine”

Wolf Marnell, BROADCAST COFFEE ROASTERS, Cambridge, MA – 230.5 pts


Espresso for is from the Kirinyaga region of Kenya, 1:2.5 ratio, roasted by obvz.

Espressos for have notes of tart cherry, brown sugar, and grapefruit, after being stirred 5 times.

We normally see lots of super fresh coffees at barista comps. is breaking that tradition with a coffee harvested in late 2015.

sig bev for includes a faux champagne using tartaric acid and whey, & a cane sugar simple syrup

David Piazza, COLLECTIVE COFFEE CO, Charleston, SC – 193 pts


Piazza is using a coffee from Burundi, roasted by that was passed through their brand spanking new optical sorter.

Naturally processed, Piazza’s sport contains clementine acidity, fig jam, and black tea notes.

Piazza’s sig bev includes Cara cara orange juice, fig reduction, & a vanilla bean rim. Think orange creamsicle.

Sam Brown, STONE CREEK COFFEE, Milwaukee, WI – 200 pts


“Hydrate or die” – Sam Brown, reminding me that I never got that I asked for

Brown’s espresso comes from El Fuente in Terrazu, Costa Rica.

Caramelized candy aroma with notes of sweet lemon, tingling citrus, a hint of caramel, and an oaky retro-nasal finish for Brown’s spro

Sig bev for Brown includes pasteurized sweet lemon and Hungarian oak cubes all strained through an aeropress.

Derrick Wessels, BEAGLE COFFEE CO, Fort Collins, CO – 172.5 pts


Wessels is competing with a Colombia Geisha grown at 2000MASL, our first Geisha of the day.

Wessels is preppin his sig bev, making a v60 of his Geisha before hopping over to make some spro.

notes of peach, pinot grigio, cherry, and orange marmalade in Wessel’s Geisha spro.

citric, malic, and tartaric acids with fructose combine with some spro and that v60 for Wessel’s completed sig bev.

Eli Ramirez, HALFWIT COFFEE, Chicago, IL – 247 pts


More than just tasting notes for his Rwandan coffee, is giving the history of Rwanda that shaped that coffee.

The first use of the steam wand at going down right now during ‘s routine. No milkies, remember.

One simply does not tell to not make a milk drink.

Milky sig bev for includes a date reduction, Kanzu spro roasted by , and steamed pistachio milk.

Lot of script for –the most thus far–but he’s delivering it very well.

Tiffany Green, BLUEPRINT COFFEE, St. Louis, MO – 208 pts


Espresso for comes from La Montaña in Honduras. Fully washed with notes of dried cherry, tootsie roll, clementine, & almond

For her sig bev, is toasting oak and trapping the smoke under the glass to increase aromatics.

Fresh Bing cherry juice, turbinado syrup, orange zest, and cinnamon added to the sig bev for .

Ruth Valdez, POPULACE COFFEE, Bay City, MI – 135.5 pts


“Complexity… what exactly does it mean and why does it matter?” Well why don’t you let Ruth Valdez tell you?

It’s a Pago Pago Sulawesi for Valdez, grown between 1400-1600MASL.

Coconut milk, palm sugar simple syrup, clove, and grapefruit juice for a “spicy creamsicle experience” in Valdez’s sig bev.

Margaret Dixon, SWING’S COFFEE ROASTERS, Alexandria, VA – 181 pts


Dixon is using a coffee from West Java, which frankly is the 1st Javan coffee I remember seeing in competition. Quality is everywhere yall.

We’ve got a Joga follow up on Dixon’s soundtrack. If it’s just 10 minutes of old school Bjork, then I know who I’m rooting for.

That West Java coffee is honey processed on raised beds, and reminds Dixon of winter w/ a rounded acidity and dry white wine finish

Cherry pie sig bev for Dixon that includes barrel aged maple syrup and pecan milk blended together.

Dixon ends the streak with Warrant’s Cherry Pie. What just happened?

Maurice Moulton, CATALINA CAFE, Tallahassee, FL – 175.5 pts


The coffee for is a natural Geisha from the famed La Hacienda Esmeralda in Boquete, Panama.

Tart strawberry acidity, black cherry and dark chocolate sweetness in the Panama Geisha espressos for

Zesty lemon, black cherry and strawberry sweetness, and creamy milk chocolate notes in ‘s sig bev.

Tito Pena, THE WYDOWN COFFEEBAR, Washington DC – 118.5 pts


Watch out , you’re not the only one freezing coffee. Tito Pena is at it, too. On the same stage no less!

A 2016 late harvest Honduran coffee grown by Giovanni Rivera for Tito Pena.

Freezing coffee “causes it to shatter instead of tear” during grinding, which leads to more uniform grind size.

Expression of orange zest rimmed glasses for Pena’s sig bev.

Maggie Snow, CHATTAHOOCHEE COFFEE CO, Atlanta, GA – 209.5 pts


“Today we’re going to have a celebration,” using the “champagne of coffees” – Idido from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia for

Honey sweetness, meyer lemon, and jasmine aromas in the Idido espresso for

I’d like to thank for playing the real version of Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance With Somebody”

White grape juice, jasmine green tea, and Idido spro for a tasty sounding sig bev for .

Michael Riopel, IRVING FARM COFFEE ROASTERS, New York, NY – 168.5 pts


Espresso today for Riopel is the Don Poncho, a wash processed coffee grown in Santa Bárbara, Honduras.

Medium acidity med-light body, & a round finish, Don Poncho has green apple, brown sugar, bakers chocolate, & orange blossom aromatics

Brown sugar simple syrup, Don Poncho and egg whites, shaken over ice for Riopel’s sig bev.

Peter Leonard, LITTLE AMPS COFFEE ROASTERS, Harrisburg, PA – 217.5 pts


“every step the coffee takes, there’s collaboration”

coffee for a fully washed Burundi Musumba from the Bukeye washing station.

The Burundi spro will combine with cold pressed melon juice, orange blossom honey, & earl grey tea for ‘s sig bev

Erik Czuprinski, RIVER CITY ROASTERS, Wheaton, IL – 215 pts


Mild mandarin acidity, heavy dates and brown sugar sweetness throughout for Czuprinski’s spro from Antigua, Guatemala.

“Judges, I present to you, elegance” – Erik Czuprinski of

A tangerine oil and medjool date reduction made into an edible film on the sig bev, mixes with the spro IN THE MOUTHS OF THE JUDGES.

Abby Lancaster, AXUM COFFEE, Winter Garden, FL – 127 pts (dq)


Lancaster comepetes with an Ethiopia Hambela w/ notes of blood orange and spice, and jasmine, green tea, & honeysuckle florals

The Orange Blossom Special: the sig bev for Lancaster, named after a Johny Cash song. In case you’re wondering, yes, the song is playing rn

sig bev is a two parter: Sparking water w/ jasmine green tea simple syrup, & Hambela spro w/ blood orange peel nitrous infused.

Erika Vonie, VARIETY COFFEE ROASTERS, Brooklyn, NY – 222.5 pts


. competes with a Guji from the Oromia region of Ethiopia, grown at 2300MASL.

Degassed for 8 days, ‘s Guji espresso has notes of peach, meyer lemon, and milk chocolate.

Before last sip of spro, judges are drinking a spoonful of Guji made via v60.

Really appreciate the compressed air on ‘s station. Thus far she has done 0 whippets, though. There’s still time.

We’ll be back tomorrow to bring you all the Day Two action!