USBC Competitor Sarah Leslie, Gimme! Coffee

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

We’re proud to serve as official media partners of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, who produce these extraordinary events.

We reached out to each of the 2015 US Barista Championship competitors prior to their routines, to learn a bit more about them as competitors and coffee pros. We hope you enjoy these interviews!



Company: Gimme! Coffee
Number of years behind the bar: 9
Number of competitions: 2
2010 NERBC in Sommerville, MA – somewhere near the bottom, but not DQ-ed! 🙂

2013 NERBrewer’sC in Long Island City, NY – again, somewhere near the bottom

Coffee: Finca San Luis from Colombia

Milk: Battenkill Valley – whole milk


Signature Beverage: Oh! I should name it! … I’ll get back to you.

apricot juice
mint leaves

key descriptors:
fruity, juicy, refreshing

I’m reworking things from the regional competition based on judges’ feedback and some issues I was having with my coconut foam. The base of the drink is the same, though: apricot juice and espresso shaken over ice.

Secret Weapons: My ability to shamelessly cry in front of an audience. 🙂

Playlist: Sure!

I’m playing 4 songs from the same album: Tycho’s AWAKE. The songs are “L”, “Awake”, “Dye”, and “Apogee”.

I know it might not be that exciting or rocking for the spectators, but I need that really calm music to settle my nerves. (Plus it’s pretty to listen to). Mainly, I want the judges to be able to focus on me and what I’m saying. When the competition’s over, we’ll hit the dance floor!

Theme: My presentation is really focused on Finca San Luis and telling the story of that coffee. Finca San Luis is a very special coffee: it’s a three-time Good Food Award-winner, it’s one of Gimme’s longest-standing relationship coffees, and it’s my favorite.

I want to be able to convey everything that makes it so special which is basically what Omar, the farmer, and his farm. Much of the information in my presentation comes directly from Omar (via email) and Virmax/Caravela who import the coffee.

Of course, it’s also just about describing a sensory experience. At the end of the day, as a wise woman once said, “Nobody cares. What does it taste like?”

Total Practice Hours: 200?

Coach(es): My #1 coach and partner in crime has been Liz Clark, Director of Coffee, for Gimme. She has an uncanny ability to listen patiently to my stress-filled ramblings, clue in to the key thing I’m trying to say, and provide me with an insightful solution or path forward.

Additional supporters at Gimme are Kevin Wilsea, Jacob Landrau, and Zoey Thorson.

My inspiration: the entire BGA membership! Especially Anne Nylander, Alex Littlejohn, Miguel Vicuna, Gabe Smentek, Colin Whitcomb, Trevor Corlett, Todd Mackey, Lorenzo Perkins … okay I won’t list the whole BGA, but SERIOUSLY! What amazing people to share a profession with?

And also, my family:
Frank – my husband and confidence mentor
Richard, Catherine, and Shauna – my dad, mom, and sister
Yon Hui and Frank Sr. – my mother-in-law and father-in-law
– Get ready because all of these people are coming to Long Beach to support me! It’s a Leslie-Kolodziej family reunion!

Fashion: My apron’s from Hedley & Bennet. On my apron, I’ll have my BGA Level 1 and 2 and SCAA Lead Instructor pin.

Who knows what I’ll decide to wear the day of. Likely something basic from Uniqlo.

Trivia: Just this: THANKS! I’m such a huge fan of Sprudge. You elevate our industry – I just can’t imagine specialty coffee without Sprudge! <3

See you in Long Beach,

Social Medias: @sarahrleslie