Welcome to a recap from Day One of Eastern Conference action at the 2016 US Coffee Championships Qualifying Event! 25 competitors competed today—we’re breaking these recaps into smaller, bite-sized portions, and will be publishing two a day throughout the event.
This year there’s a live scoring element that’s been introduced into the competition, with a total available points value of 430. That’s the number you’ll see accompanying each of these extraordinary competitors. After all the rip-roaring action from Western Conference Qualifier, Eastern baristas had a lot to live up to, but they were up for the challenge and then some!
Our coverage is made possible by direct support from Urnex Brands. The SprudgeLive competition coverage crew includes Charlie Burt (photos), Elizabeth Chai (photos), and Zac Cadwalader (producer). Notes in this article are pulled from our @sprudgelive competition feed—follow us there for play by play throughout the week.
Erik Czuprinski, River City Roasters, Wheaton, IL–231
there’s a single note to Erik Czuprinski’s #uscoffeechamps routine—”cherry”—you know like the flavor but also the coffee cherry?
espresso notes for Erik Czuprinski” “Tart bright cherry, cinnamon spice, and a graham cracker finish—bright, rich, & juicy”
Sig drink for Erik Czuprinski is like “coffee wine”—based on the Mexican holiday punch
Alex Schuster, Dunn Brothers Coffee, Eden Prairie, MN–227.5
This is a caturra coffee, “Perla Negra” from the Las Lajas micromill in Costa Rica
sig drink for Alex Schuster takes caramel, blackberry, and ice, stirred to incorporate
We’re pretty sure this is one of the first, if not the first, @dunnbroscoffee competitor in USBC history—good on ya!
Micah Sherer, Ally Coffee, Greenville, SC–279.5
“Caramel on the nose, mango sweetness, juicy body, with a dry banana finish” for M. Sherer’s #uscoffeechamps espresso course.
Mr. Sherer is using a naturally processed Brazilian coffee grown by Ricardo Tavarez, the first harvest of new Red Catuai trees.
Cascara honey syrup and spritzer for M. Sherer’s sig bev, w/ tasting notes of “jasmine and chamomile”
T. Ben Fischer, Stone Creek Coffee Roasters, Milwaukee, WI–281.5
T. Ben Fisher starts routine with “The Circle Of Life” from Lion King into “V Superstitious”
espresso: “Ruby red grapefruit, floral finish—dark chocolate—a silky start w/ a dry finish”
“I vow that this is a harmonious balance of espresso to milk”
coconut & persimmon to “illuminate a hidden dark chocolate note”, dusted w/ g-fruit rind
it’s the circle of life, people, and it moves us all.
Nathan Nerswick, Chattahoochee Coffee Company, Atlanta, GA–305
“Our ten minutes together are going to fly by”— real talk
Nerswick’s serving a @counter_culture coffee from Narino, Colombia—”Urcunina”—31 producer lot
sig drink for @nateners dried cherry syrup, tiger nut milk, carbonation, decanted & served in coupe
Erin Swift, Beans and Bagels, Chicago, IL–219.5
“Kindness and community are lived daily experiences” at Erin Swift’s @beansandbagels in Chicago
E. Swift serves an Ethiopian espresso roasted by @kickapoocoffee of Viroqua, WI
“medium-bodied espresso with a creamy mouthfeel…peach, ripe ruby grapefruit, sweet toffee candy”
honey from Jimma in Erin Swift’s sig drink—Ethiopian ingredients & Ethiopian coffee
Kathie Hilberg, Spyhouse Coffee Roasting Co, Minneapolis, MN–279.5
Those La Papaya espressos from @kathhilby taste like “lime zest, stewed nectarine, and macadamia nut”
creme anglaise—a spiced egg custard—paired with espresso here in @kathhilby‘s sig drink
Ashley Elander, Intelligentsia, Chicago, IL–328
“I’m an illustrator and a few weeks ago I bought the wrong type of pen.” I’m not sure where you’re going with this, Ashley but I’m listening
Apple cider vinegar, diluted honey, & herbal concoction in the sig bev w/ notes effervescent cola, baked fruit, and pear for A. Elander.
Golden grahams and ginger snaps in @drawashleydraw‘s milk course. I want golden grahams.
PS: @drawashleydraw‘s “wrong pen” analogy was about stepping out of your comfort zone. Be the wrong pen.
Samuel Lewontin, Everyman Espresso, New York, NY–337
Colombia variety coffee from Narino, Colombia roasted by @counter_culture
espresso notes for @coffeeandbikes “green grape, walnut, and praline…round, slick, and silky”
“Everyone, whether they want to admit it or not, loves sugar and fat” @coffeeandbikes truth bombs
Nathan Dela Cruz, Anodyne Coffee Roasting, Milwaukee, WI–255.5
some tasty heirloom Ethiopian spros for Nathan Dela Cruz & @anodynecoffee—”clementine, graham cracker”
wow “Running With The Devil” into “Hells Bells” from Nathan Dela Cruz of @anodynecoffee
cappuccinos like “smores” with Hells Bells on the stereo from my new favorite competitor Nathan Dela Cruz of @anodynecoffee
apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, sparkling water (Gerolsteiner!) and clementine for Nathan Dela Cruz’ sig drinks
sig drink is like “days as a kid I spent skateboarding drinking orange sodas” Nathan Dela Cruz
Abeah Hunter, Panther Coffee, Miami, FL–261
Abeah Hunter’s competing w/ coffee from @aidabatlle in El Salvador—”the perfect example of specialty coffee”
“nasturtium, vanilla, and caramel” in Abeah Hunter’s cortalitos
tupelo honey, grapefruit foam and watermelon solution in Abeah Hunter’s sig drink—”it’s juicy and sweet”
Kevin Wilsea, Gimme! Coffee, Ithaca, NY–258.5
“I don’t have instructions on how to drink your capp. I just ask you to remember this experience.” Meta instructions from K. Wilsea.
Mr. Wilsea’s #uscoffeechamps coffee is from a small section of 46 hectare Finca San Luis called La Gloria.
Pineapple cordial & white cherry infusion in the sig bev. Glass is dusted with basil leaf and strawberry.
Cheese! Wilsea is serving his sig bev with cheese! Local Terrantez cheese to be exact.