US Barista Championship Round One Recap


SprudgeLive’s coverage of the 2015 United States Barista Championship is made possible by direct support from Nuova SimonelliCafe Imports, and Bonavita.  All of SprudgeLive’s 2015 barista competition coverage is underwritten in partnership with Square and Urnex Brands 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.

Information below has been compiled from the @SprudgeLive livetweet feed. Want to use our photos? Email us! 


1. Michael Harwood, Ceremony Coffee, Annapolis, MD @bluebarista @ceremonycoffee

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 is a “clean, sparkling, balanced coffee”

In an interview prior to competing, estimated to us that he’d trained “100-150 hours” for this routine


Mr. Harwood’s routine here at is themed around hybrids, focused on rare and emerging coffee varieties

Sig drink for : 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 Ecuador espresso


3. Kyle Ramage, Mahlkonig USA, Durham, NYC @kyle_rampage @mahlkonigUSA

Mr. Ramage competes w/ a coffee from Colombian producer Nelly Hurtado — El Receurdo, roasted by

“Without customers, after all, the doors don’t stay open, right?” of drops truth bombs here at


“sweet vanilla, butter toffee, hint of almond, and cocoa” in ‘s capps here at

signature drink includes an aromatic spray, coconut water, and tonic syrup combined with Castillo


4. Michael Butterworth, Quills Coffee, Louisville, KY @mjbutterworth@quillscoffee

Mr. Butterworth competes with a “Million Pesos” coffee from Colombia, “Bellavista”, roasted by

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 is a “coffee cherry soda” — cascara & kola nut syrup, sparkling water, Colombian espresso, lemon


5. Andrew McCaslin, Palace Coffee / Evocation, Amarillo, TX @palacecoffee

Mr. McCaslin competes here at with an “Ethiopian Guji-type heirloom” coffee sourced by

“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  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


6. Erika Vonie, Everyman Espresso, NYC @Okan_EerieEvil @everymanNY

“Climate change has an undeniable impact on the future of specialty coffee.” — Erika Vonie

Erika Vonie competes at with ‘s Tairora, Papua New Guinea.

Between , Big Eastern, & the hotly competitive in-house, estimates 250+ hours of prep for this routine.



Sig drink for takes peach juice, tamarind concentrate cooled Tairora espresso, shaken with ice w/ jasmine seltzer

In a pre-comp interview, told us “My hope is that my outfits make people think i’m an evil witch queen.”

7. Nora Brady, Blueprint Coffee, St. Louis @snackpackbrady @blueprintcoffee


Nora Brady was a 2014 national finalist, placing 6th in the country at last year’s USBC event.

Currently on stage for : a vaporizer, some plastic bags, and a heat sealer.

“cherry and orange, cocoa nib” notes in ‘s Ecuador La Nube espressos. “syrupy body, smooth finish”


‘s sig drink is called “the cloud” — a combo of technique & ingredient meant to mimic soil, earth, & water

sig drink for : Pineapple, coconut, & brown sugar syrup / lime & orange oil vapor / Red date, cinnamon, nutmeg ash


8. Sam Brandvein, Cherry Street Coffee House, Seattle @sambrandvein @cherrystreet

Sam Brandvein competes here at with coffee from — her espresso has “tart nectarine, sweet peach, and orange marmalade”

in case you forgot — which you didn’t! — 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 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


9. Cole McBride, PublicUs, Las Vegas @colecoffee @publicusLV 

Mr. McBride competes year in and year out with coffee from , roasted by owner Velton Ross.

This year Mr. McBride competes with coffee from Finca El Faldon, in Hulia, Colombia by producer Arnfulo Leguizamo


“beautiful, lingering sweetness” in these Arnulfo espressos from — “grapefruit, brown sugar, grapefruit”

Gorgeous flat ware from and — water vessels by Ben Medansky, minty green capp mugs


sig drink for — chill espresso, elderberry syrup, fresh lychee reduction, water soaked in Amarillo hops


10. Anna Utevsky, Independent, Raleigh, NC @autevsky 

Up next it’s Anna Utevsky () an independent barista competitor competing as part of the wider team.

“Attention is the through line that great coffee and restaurant professionals share” — that’s church, yo.


“brown sugar, red cherry, and a custardy texture” in ‘s Colombia La Florida espressos by

“cracker sweetness and a hint of vanilla” in ‘s capps

sig drink for includes fennel syrup, half & half infused with espresso, simple syrup — drink with a straw!


11. Maxwell Mooney, Spotted Cow Coffee Company, Mill Creek, WA @maxwellamooney @spottedcowMC

This is Maxwell Mooney’s first USBC appearance, following 2013 and 2014 regional appearances.

Mr. Mooney’s competing here at with a coffee from Aramo, Ethiopia – natural processed.


sig drink for is called “The White Chocolate Situation” — it is, indeed, a white chocolate situation.

Sig drink for includes espresso, white chocolate, and non-alcoholic blood orange bitters


12. Sarah Leslie, Gimme! Coffee, Brooklyn @sarahleslie @gimmecoffee

“peach, strawberry, a hint of snap pea” in ‘s Colombia Finca San Luis espressos from

Battenkill Valley milk for ‘s capps. she’s leading with the capp course, which is kind of unusual, but only kind of.


sig drink for 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”


13. Jonathan Paul Doerr, Portola Coffee Lab, Costa Mesa, CA @jonpauldoerr @portolacoffee

Mr. Doerr is the only competitor here at hailing from Orange County.

Mr. Doerr is competing here at with another coffee from — Ethiopia Kemgin.

“banana bread, honeysuckle sweetness, and baking spice” in ‘s capps


sig drink for : plum, honeydew & prune puree, citrus / honey / lemongrass tisane, chilled espresso

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 ‘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.


15. Devin Chapman, Verve Coffee Roasters, LA @devchap @vervecoffee 

is a two-time NW regional champion, a two-time USBC semi-finalist, and has made one USBC finals appearance (in 2013)

Mr. Chapman’s is like an earnest emo love ballad for ‘s Ethiopia Duromina.


told us the theme of his routine was “catalyst/ripple effect, cause/effect, how one thing can make a large impact”


“white grape acidity akin to a chardonnay” in ‘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.

Mr. Latham competes w/ ‘s Rwanda Kanzu, the first Rwandan coffee at


20 grams in, 50 grams out for Mr. Latham’s  Rwanda Kanzu espressos — apricot notes y’all

Sig drink for Stephen Latham: bee pollen, mirabelle plum puree, meyer lemon juice, tonic, chamomile simple syrup


17. Brandon Paul Weaver, Slate Coffee Roasters, Seattle @coffeeandbookz @slatecoffee 

Mr. Weaver competes here at with ‘s roast of Embu Kenya, from the Kianyangi Factory.

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 ‘ 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


18. David Fasman, Kaldi’s Coffee, St. Louis @davidfasman @kaldis_coffee

This is ‘s third consecutive USBC appearance for , following 3 consecutive SC regional final placements.

Mr. Fasman competes w/ longstanding partner Oscar Medina & his Colombia Monserrate.

Mr. Fasman estimates he spent around 100 total hours training for this routine.



“Think pecan sandy.” I will gladly think about eating a pecan sandy. Also that is ‘s cappuccino note.

Sig drink’s pretty simple here from — brown sugar & “live thyme” simple syrup, espresso, and caramelized orange oil


19. Kevin Bohlin, Saint Frank Coffee, San Francisco @kgbohlin @stfrankcoffee

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 — 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…” — ‘s building his sig drink next


sig: Rose gel, glasses rimmed with citric acid, smoked salt, & ras el hanout, Luxardo cherry, caramelized sugar

Act Three for : 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.”

Mr. Gruehn competes at with Colombia Aguacate



Those capps have a “butter toffee flavor.” Both they & are from Wisconsin, where butter is better.

sig drink for is like “a complex Irish coffee” — cold foam on top, sweet & warm coffee at the bottom

That sig takes bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, egg white / gelatin / cherry juice foam, & spro. All Wisconsin-made.


22. T. Ben Fisher, Stone Creek Coffee Roasters, Milwaukee, WI @scarfninja1812 @stonecreekcoffe

Not every competitors starts a routine by singing an Olaf song from Frozen. Not every competitor is

T. Ben likes to drop science up here. Flavor science. “120 degrees is the ideal drinking temp for this cappuccino”



“sweet caramel, acidic grapefruit, and a fruity cocoa nib finish” in ‘s espressos

Sig drink for : bruleed ruby red grapefruit, espresso, citrus juice, “Let It Go” megamix


23. Jenna Gotthelf, Northampton Coffee, Northampton, MA @this_is_jennaG@NoHoCoffee

Jenna’s got a lot fans for her unconventional scripts and sense of humor on stage.

Jenna Gotthelf’s competing today with Kemgin Ethiopia

Evocative capp notes from : “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 as she builds her sig drink.

Biggest applause of the day for Jenna Gotthelf as she calls time.


24. David Buehrer, Greenway Coffee, Houston, TX @greenwaybarista@greenwaycoffee

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  what was on his soundtrack and he told us “3rd Coast Ghetto Gospel”

Sig drink up for  — oleo-saccharum of orange peel, decoction of chamomile, cinnamon, juniper, & bittering root.




Photos: Zachary Carlsen
LiveTweet: Jordan Michelman
Production: Zac Cadwalader