SprudgeLive’s coverage of the 2015 United States Barista Championship is made possible by direct support from Nuova Simonelli, Cafe Imports, and Bonavita. All of SprudgeLive’s 2015 barista competition coverage is underwritten in partnership with Square and Urnex Brands.
Sprudge.com is an official media partner of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
This is a recap of Round One action at the 2015 United States Barista Championship in Long Beach, California, happening February 20th-22nd, 2015.
Michael Harwood is a decade-plus specialty coffee professional, a regional champion and two-time USBC semi-finalist.
“A stand alone espresso should be sweet and balanced” — this espresso from @bluebarista is a “clean, sparkling, balanced coffee”
Mr. Harwood’s routine here at #usbc2015 is themed around hybrids, focused on rare and emerging coffee varieties
Sig drink for @bluebarista: Kenya espresso, “Kenya process” hibiscus gomme syrup, sparkling water, and fresh hibiscus flower
2. Jonathan Miller, MadCap Coffee Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan @madcapcoffee
This is Jonathan Miller’s 4th appearance in a sanctioned barista competition — he’s twice placed in the top six at a regional.
“Specialty coffee is bigger than any of my ideas alone.” — Jonathan Miller
Mr. Miller asks the judges to swirl their espresso for a long count, timed to an egg timer — swirl, girl!
Jonathan Miller sig drink: star anise honey water, lime juice, and lavender tea, combined with @madcapcoffee Ecuador espresso
Mr. Ramage competes w/ a coffee from Colombian producer Nelly Hurtado — El Receurdo, roasted by @vervecoffee
here’s an espresso with notes of “cherry, lemon, and brown sugar…medium body…creamy mouthfeel…smooth finish”
“I think a good signature beverage should be both familiar and exotic”
Sig drink for @mjbutterworth is a “coffee cherry soda” — cascara & kola nut syrup, sparkling water, Colombian espresso, lemon
5. Andrew McCaslin, Palace Coffee / Evocation, Amarillo, TX @palacecoffee
“sasparilla and sage, strawberry & chocolate” in Andrew McCaslin’s Guji espressos. That sounds pretty Guji, yo!
Mr. McCaslin’s shouting on Roman & Amy Leal of @evocationcoffee and their roaster, Shelby Easley — “this is their brain child”
Sig drink for McCaslin: sage pearls, Aeropress extraction w/ginger shrub, and espresso extractions dark chocolate
“Climate change has an undeniable impact on the future of specialty coffee.” — Erika Vonie
Sig drink for @OkAn_EerieEvil takes peach juice, tamarind concentrate cooled Tairora espresso, shaken with ice w/ jasmine seltzer
In a pre-comp interview, @OkAn_EerieEvil told us “My hope is that my outfits make people think i’m an evil witch queen.”
Nora Brady was a 2014 national finalist, placing 6th in the country at last year’s USBC event.
Currently on stage for @snackpackbrady: a vaporizer, some plastic bags, and a heat sealer.
“cherry and orange, cocoa nib” notes in @snackpackbrady‘s Ecuador La Nube espressos. “syrupy body, smooth finish”
@snackpackbrady‘s sig drink is called “the cloud” — a combo of technique & ingredient meant to mimic soil, earth, & water
sig drink for @snackpackbrady: Pineapple, coconut, & brown sugar syrup / lime & orange oil vapor / Red date, cinnamon, nutmeg ash
in case you forgot — which you didn’t! — @cherrystreet is home to 2014 USBC champion Laila Ghambari
Brandvein presents her judges with a swath of cashmere as she pours her “buttery pastry, graham cracker” capps
Sig drink for @sambrandvein includes espresso, orange infused soda water, Ellie Goulding, coffee cherry blossoms
That’s the first routine of the day to go over 15 minutes, breaking up our perfect game. No hitter still in play — no DQs so far
Mr. McBride competes year in and year out with coffee from @veltonscoffee, roasted by owner Velton Ross.
This year Mr. McBride competes with coffee from Finca El Faldon, in Hulia, Colombia by producer Arnfulo Leguizamo
10. Anna Utevsky, Independent, Raleigh, NC @autevsky
“Attention is the through line that great coffee and restaurant professionals share” — that’s church, yo.
sig drink for @autevsky includes fennel syrup, half & half infused with espresso, simple syrup — drink with a straw!
This is Maxwell Mooney’s first USBC appearance, following 2013 and 2014 regional appearances.
Mr. Mooney’s competing here at #usbc2015 with a coffee from Aramo, Ethiopia – natural processed.
sig drink for @maxwellamooney is called “The White Chocolate Situation” — it is, indeed, a white chocolate situation.
Battenkill Valley milk for @sarahrleslie‘s capps. she’s leading with the capp course, which is kind of unusual, but only kind of.
sig drink for @sarahrleslie includes apricot juice, mint leaves, ice, and chilled espresso, shaken with ice, served in high coupes
Sarah Leslie’s reasons for garnishing w/ cucumber: “1. Because it’s pretty. 2. Because it’s refreshing”
Mr. Doerr is the only competitor here at #usbc2015 hailing from Orange County.
“banana bread, honeysuckle sweetness, and baking spice” in @jonpauldoerr‘s capps
sig drink for @jonpauldoerr: plum, honeydew & prune puree, citrus / honey / lemongrass tisane, chilled espresso
@jonpauldoerr shakes, strains, & serves his sig drink low & clean in a rocks glass. Classic cocktail w/out bludgeoning us with it
14. LeeAnn Wacker, Colectivo Coffee, Milwaukee, WI @colectivocoffee
LeeAnn Wacker competes here with @ColectivoCoffee‘s Finca La Papaya, from producer Juan Peña
LeeAnn Wacker’s sig drink includes rose hip & hibiscus tea, honey, & an ounce of espresso poured over an ice chip
a “schniblet” is a little plop of grapefruit pulp, added to LeeAnn Wacker’s signature drink.
absolutely stunningly gorgeous stage setting here from LeeAnn Wacker, our favorite of the day, no contest.
@devchap is a two-time NW regional champion, a two-time USBC semi-finalist, and has made one USBC finals appearance (in 2013)
“white grape acidity akin to a chardonnay” in @devchap‘s espressos. We here at The Sprudge could really go for a little chard RN
Mr. Chapman’s sig drink includes a Meizhan red tea and turbonado sugar “ice sphere”, with espresso on top
16. Stephen Latham, Box Kite, NYC @boxkiteNYC
This is Stephen Latham’s first season as a barista competitor, and first-ever USBC appearance.
20 grams in, 50 grams out for Mr. Latham’s @madcapcoffee Rwanda Kanzu espressos — apricot notes y’all
Sig drink for Stephen Latham: bee pollen, mirabelle plum puree, meyer lemon juice, tonic, chamomile simple syrup
Mr. Weaver’s espressos 19 grams in, 60 grams out, 24 seconds total — “light weight, silky smooth”
“bakers chocolate, dark caramel, and a finish just like vanilla pudding” in @coffeeandbookz‘ cappz
Mr. Weaver’s decanting his espresso for sig drinks in a wide-bottomed wine decanter.
BPW sig drink: Ras el Hanout, Salt, Espresso, and Carbonated Grapefruit Juice
Mr. Fasman competes w/ @kaldis_coffee longstanding partner Oscar Medina & his Colombia Monserrate.
Mr. Fasman estimates he spent around 100 total hours training for this #usbc2015 routine.
“Think pecan sandy.” I will gladly think about eating a pecan sandy. Also that is @davidfasman‘s cappuccino note.
Sig drink’s pretty simple here from @davidfasman — brown sugar & “live thyme” simple syrup, espresso, and caramelized orange oil
Kevin Bohlin is a seasoned USBC competitor — this is his astonishing 10th regulation appearance, 5th at national event.
Mr. Bohlin competes here today with a two distinct coffees: Ethiopia Aramo & Burundi Dukorere Ikawa
We asked Tex how many hours he’d practiced for #usbc2015 — like a zen master he said: “When its on the mind it can’t be counted.”
Sig drink for Tex is a doozy: Burundi espreso, lemon verbena gel, oozy luscious passion fruit, black walnut bitters
20. Harlin Glovacki, Nom de Plume Roasters, Phoenix, AZ
Harlin Glovacki is a first-year competitor. This is his first-ever USBC appearance.
This routine is themed into 4 acts: “Immediate vs. Mediate” — Act One: Act One: Giakanja and Howell I Froze It
Act 2: Timely Tasting — “pomegranate, cardamom…ginger snap, cardamom…” — @harlinglovacki‘s building his sig drink next
@harlinglovacki sig: Rose gel, glasses rimmed with citric acid, smoked salt, & ras el hanout, Luxardo cherry, caramelized sugar
Act Three for @harlinglovacki: Dr. Rate of Rise, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rao
Harlin Glovacki calls time around 40 seconds into the bonus — a memorable and immensely ambitious routine from the first-year competitor from Phoenix.
21. Trevor Gruehn, Independent, Madison, WI @variable_coffee
An all-time great opening line: “Aaliyah told us that age ain’t nothing but a number, and she was right.”
sig drink for @variable_coffee is like “a complex Irish coffee” — cold foam on top, sweet & warm coffee at the bottom
That @variable_coffee sig takes bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, egg white / gelatin / cherry juice foam, & spro. All Wisconsin-made.
Not every competitors starts a routine by singing an Olaf song from Frozen. Not every competitor is @ScarfNinja1812
T. Ben likes to drop science up here. Flavor science. “120 degrees is the ideal drinking temp for this cappuccino”
Sig drink for @scarfninja1812: bruleed ruby red grapefruit, espresso, citrus juice, “Let It Go” megamix
Jenna’s got a lot fans for her unconventional scripts and sense of humor on stage.
Jenna Gotthelf’s competing today with @ninetyplus Kemgin Ethiopia
Evocative capp notes from @this_is_JennaG: “Like a slice of strawberry shortcake, after you’ve eaten a caramel”
We’re kinda coming off the rails here…but there’s a lot of love in the room for @this_is_JennaG as she builds her sig drink.
Biggest applause of the day for Jenna Gotthelf as she calls time.
This is David Buehrer’s fifth competition appearance, and second USBC appearance.
Mr. Buehrer competes here today with coffee from Rancho Tio Emilio, in La Perla, Ecuador
Houston through and through, we asked @greenwaybarista what was on his soundtrack and he told us “3rd Coast Ghetto Gospel”
Sig drink up for @greenwaybarista — oleo-saccharum of orange peel, decoction of chamomile, cinnamon, juniper, & bittering root.
Photos: Zachary Carlsen
LiveTweet: Jordan Michelman
Production: Zac Cadwalader