2015 US Barista Championship Semi-Finals Recap

Devin Chapman - Verve Coffee Semis 058

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

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.

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


1. Sam Lewontin, Everyman Espresso, Manhattan @coffeeandbikes @everymanNY

Sam Lewontin is a two-time NE regional champion, in 2015 and 2013. This is his third USBC appearance.

Lewontin competes w/ Finca Los Alpes, El Salvador, Kenya variety separation, roast by

“It’s frankly one of the best espressos I’ve had in years” — on X Finca Los Alpes

Sig drink for : Los Alpes espresso, Chrysanthemum flower syrup, distilled white vinegar, grapefruit peel 3 ways


Sig drink service complete at 14 – has time to clean, thank the judges, deliver a last bit of script…pro pro pro


2. Brady MacDonald, Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, Olympia, WA @olympiacoffee @braideee

This is Brady MacDonald’s first USBC appearance, following up his first regional finals appearance earlier this season.

Mr. MacDonald competes here at with ‘s Colombia San Sebastian Reserva, from Hulia

on his routine theme: “It’s all about learning, respecting each other and acknowledging the beauty of our world.”


‘s sig drink includes Washington ingredients like Tunawerth Creamery dulce de leche & Washington apple reduction

Braidee MacDonald calls time just past the 16 minute limit — he becomes the first DQ, breaking up our no hitter on day 2.


3. Hadassah Wilson, Square One Coffee, Lancaster, PA @squareonecoffee @hadassahedith

This is Hadassah Wilson’s second USBC appearance — Wilson advanced to Semi-Finals in 2014.

competes w/ a Brazilian coffee from Fazenda Santa Lucia — this is high quality stuff, not your typical Brazza


Capps taste like “nougat & honey-roasted peanut”

It’s unanimous here among our staff, soundtrack game strong.

Sig drink for is a “Coffee Caipirinha” – espresso, caramel sauce, steeped apple peel tea, malic acid, over ice


4. Cole McBride, PublicUs, Las Vegas, NV @colecoffee @PublicUsLV

Mr. McBride was a 2014 national finalist, placing 4th in the United States at the 2014 USBC.

‘s serving a special from producer Arnulfo Leguizamo — the coffee that helped win the world

Espresso coffee: 14 days off roast. Cappuccino coffee: 7 days off roast. playing with variables.


up front cranberry note…caramel…milk chocolate finish” in ‘s cappuccinos from Arnulfo Leguizamo and

Cole’s sig drink takes elderflower syrup, chilled espresso, lychee reduction, and hops-soaked tonic water


5. Ryan Soeder, Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago @ryansoeder @intelligentsia

This is ‘s first USBC appearance. He is the 2015 NC regional champ in his first season as a barista competitor.

Mr. Soeder competes with ‘s nigh-mythic Boliva Takesi, from the highest coffee farm on earth.

sig drink up first for — his takes tonic water, cream, and Boliva Takesi espresso. Simple.


Cappuccinos taste like “cocoa and malt” for — made with Boliva Takesi & milk

Takesi espressos from : “clementines, sweet cashew, orange zest armoatics…like a white desert wine”


6. Radames Roldan, Blueprint Coffee, St. Louis, MO @blueprintcoffee

Mr. Roldan competes using ‘s Ecuador La Nube

Mr. Roldan’s sig drink includes strawberry & taragon, lemon, and cranberry with espresso “balanced and clarified”

not a ton of script in this routine from Radames Roldan, a first-year barista competitor who won the SC region


Mr. Roldan’s serving straight-up steamed milk first to the judges, before offering them completed capps

“a honey oat malty cappuccino…something like Honey Nut Cheerios” from Radames Roldan &


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

This is Mr. Harwood’s third USBC semi-finals appearance — he’s appeared previously in 2011 and 2013

“A stand alone espresso ought to be sweet and balanced.”

most competitors — even REALLY good competitors — get the shakes when they pour. does not. another day at office.


“this is a distinctive, but quite familiar, & delicious cappuccino”–tops off capp for his last judge, rakes points.


Mr. Harwood uses ‘s Kenya Gondo for his sig – candied hibiscus, “Kenya process” gomme syrup, bubbles


8. Charles Babinski, Go Get Em Tiger, Los Angeles @charlesbabinski @GGETLA

This is Charles Babinski’s 6th US Barista Championship appearance. He has placed 2nd nationally the last 2 years.

Mr. Babinski competes with Honduras Ocotillo, roasted by

Mr. Babinski’s starting with his sig drink — pine-tree honey, juniper syrup and a reduction of grapefruit juice


“automation gives us time to give the type of service we’re proud of, & make a connection.”

“candied lemon, jasmine & orange zest” in ‘s espressos

Trevor Gruehn Semis 025

9. Trevor Gruehn, Independent, Madison, WI @variable_coffee

Mr. Gruehn is using a Colombia Aguacate from for his espresso.

The theme of ‘s performance- “Age and expectation” — how age can alter expectation, not always for the best.

“I want you to take your expectations, and mail them far away.” Not your normal drinking instructions.

Trevor Gruehn Semis 008

Wis-based sig bev- espresso, Wis maple syrup, Wis cherry reduction, egg white, gelatin, and water.


10. Kevin Bohlin, St. Frank Coffee, San Francisco @kgbohlin @stfrankcoffee

From throngs of followers in 2011 to now, competing under his own , is a perennial favorite

For his capps & sig drink, ‘s serving coffee from Burundi’s Dukorere Ikawa cooperative. He visited Burundi summer 2014.

Intensely visual — oozing passion fruit, bumblebee soldier sig drinks, dark woods, subtle flat ware


“candy and honedew melon…silky texture, clean finish like 85% dark cocoa” — on his Ethiopia Aramo espressos

Sig drink for takes passion fruit, lemon verbena gel, black walnut bitters, and Burundi espresso


11. Matthew Scott, Lemonjello’s Coffee, Holland, MI @sirlemonjello @lemonjellos

this is an entirely new script from — it’s been a months since his Big Central run and dude has clearly practiced.

cherry and sugar cane juice…smooth, plush…a light washing body” — on his espressos

sig drink for @sirlemonejllo includes cane sugar, cherries, basil leaf, and espresso — strained, served in tall cordial glasses


“We can tell stories in a lot of different ways, but we don’t have to be boring” —


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

Mr. Weaver’s serving a Kenya Kianyangi, Sl-28 and SL-34 variety, from the Embu County 120 KM NE of Nairobi.

Kenya spro notes “cherry flavor accented by baking chocolate, cherry aroma accented by baking spices”

expect “grapefruit acidity and grapefruit pith” in ‘ Kenya espressos. okay, we will.


Mr. Weaver’s tightening up the extraction for his capp espressos, so they play nicely with milk.


sig drink for takes Kenya espresso, Ras el Hanout, saline solution, and freshly carbonated grapefruit juice

Devin Chapman - Verve Coffee Semis 062

13. Devin Chapman, Verve Coffee Roasters, Los Angeles @devchap @vervecoffee

Mr. Chapman’s competing with Ethiopia Duromina, around which his routine is themed.

Mr. Chapman’s Ethiopia Duromina is a success story. Improved quality results in dramatically higher price per pound.

Devin Chapman uses a hot pink tamper.

Devin Chapman - Verve Coffee Semis 012

Sig drink: Meizhan Red Tea from & turbonado sugar, turned into an ice sphere — espresso poured over top.


14. Andrea Allen, Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, AR @onxycoffeelab @andreaarkansas

This is ‘s 2nd year competing, her 1st trip to nationals.

Mrs. Allen is starting with the espresso course, using Julio’s natural gesha from Guatemala.

Julio’s natural gesha was a winner at last month’s .

“Subtle lime acidity, sugar cane, and a cocoa finish” for ‘s cappuccino course.


Sig drink – rum barrel age cold brew, espresso, turbinado sugar, and a STRAWBERRY ICE CUBE.


15. Eden-Marie Abramowicz, Intelligentsia Coffee, Los Angeles @missedenmarie @intelligentsia

Abramowicz starts judges out w/ a taste experiment: acidic solution of citric, mallic, tartaric acid, maple syrup

Abramowicz’ sig drink takes that acid & syrup mixture, with Finca Santuario espresso on top

foam air! making hibiscus, lemongrass, dry plum & soy lecithin powder to make a fragrant “air” for her sig


capps with notes of “malt and sweet cashew butter” for

one of ‘s signatures is always making an extra drink for herself to sip with the judges


16. Trevor Corlett, Madcap Coffee Company, Washington D.C. @tjorlet @madcapcoffee

“Nothing I’m going to present to you today is original. Every course I’ll be serving is a remix.”

Mr. Corlett has placed 3rd in the United States at the last two US Barista Championships.

Trevor Corlett competes with ‘s Lake Effect, a two-bean blend of Ethiopian and Kenyan coffees.

Sig drink by : kumquats, black peppercorn, cinnamon, star anise & sugar, chilled espresso, cherry foam, xantham gum, magic


“Specialty coffee is a remix. It requires that we respect one another, and those who came before us.”


17. Sam Schroeder, Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, Olympia, WA @s_schro @olympiacoffee

This is ‘s second consecutive appearance at USBC Semi-Finals. Last season he placed 14th.

Mr. Schroeder competes here at with coffee from the Ademegorbota cooperative in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

On the farmers’ coop in Ethiopia: “They have a treasure trove of heirloom varieties…and immaculate cherry selection.”

black tea and lemon notes, milk chocolate” in ‘s capps, combining Ethiopia Ademegorbota & milk


sig drink for — espresso shaken with ice, paired with a black tea & lemon infused drinking custard


18. Lemuel Butler, Counter Culture Coffee, Durham, NC @sexyfoam @counter_culture

Mr. Butler competes here using ‘s Kenya Thiriku

Lem Butler is a five-time regional barista champ, the winningest regional barista in US history.

“The process determines the product.” —


capp notes for — “hint of cocoa, sweet malt & body…the shadowy existence of a baked lemon tart”

Sig drink: “The Upgrade” chilled Thiriku, cashew coconut cream, reduced peaches w/ lime & pink salt, borubon maple syrup



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