12651280_1009666275746628_6558748346232800922_n

Welcome to a recap from Day One of Western 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 this 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, but whether you DQ’d or cracked 300, all of the routines today were awesome.

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.

Samuel W. Smith, Topeca Coffee Roasters, Tulsa, OK–212

Western Day 1 - Samuel Smith - Topeca 04

Topeca owns mills & farms in El Salvador in addition to the cafes in Tulsa—S. Smith serves coffee from there

Espresso notes for S. Smith “white almond, mushroom, orange pith, grapefruit pith, and dried apple leather”

buttery lemon pound cake & strawberry notes in Sam Smith’s #uscoffeechamps cortados. the [cow emoji x3] no doubt approve.

sig drink for S. Smith of @topecacoffee takes cascara syrup, salt, lightly whipped cascara cream, & espresso

Isaiah Sheese, Archetype Coffee, Omaha, NE–291.5

Western Day 1 - Isaiah Sheese - Archetype

Isaiah Sheese starts his judges off with a little questionnaire—they’ll be choosing their own espresso & milk course

Mr. Sheese is competing with a Kenya Kirimikui peaberry.

Kirimi… Kir… It’s from Kenya.

Judges opted for a 2.5oz milk bev. Caramel from the espresso turns into creme brûlée in milk.

Ashley Rodriguez, Sightglass, San Francisco, CA–301

Western Day 1 - Ashley Rodriguez - Sightglass

“As an educator, I often think about context.”

Ms. Rodriguez competes with a Honduras roasted by @sightglass. Aroma of strawberry jam, flavors of peach & molasses w/ a botanical finish.

Strawberry shrub, molasses, and whey for a “kombucha-like” sig bev for Ashley Rodriguez.

touching moment as @sightglass @ashcommonname dedicates her performance to @halfbatch — learn more here:

Seth Fuller, Colony Class, Colorado Springs, CO–255

Western Day 1 - Seth Fuller - Colony Class 02

“strawberry, walnut, and lime” in Seth Fuller’s #uscoffeechamps espressos

graham cracker and sweet caramel finish for Seth Fuller’s #uscoffeechamps milk drinks

“tart lemonade, pecan, and cucumber sandwich” notes in Seth Fuller’s sig drink—cucumber sandwich yum.

Brian Ensminger, Barista, Portland, OR–261.5

Western Day 1 - Brian Ensminger - Barista

“molasses adapts into milk, making it taste more like a walnut”—prune and walnut notes in @ensmingerbrianm‘s milk drinks

Welp it nearly took all day but finally we’ve got some Hotline Bling (albeit the Badu remix) #uscoffeechamps @dallas_coffee wins prop bet

rootbeer-esque sig drink from @ensmingerbrianm here at #uscoffeechamps—rootbeer syrup, vanilla, plum, molasses, sparkling, ice, mint garnish

Breanna Lloyd, Royal Drummer, Seattle, WA–214

Western Day 1 - Breanna Lloyd - Royal Drummer

Ooh dry ice spotted on stage here at #uscoffeechamps—perhaps the most visually impressive of all the sig drink ingredients.

Rwandan coffee here from Breanna Lloyd—”hand sorted after it is wet processed, dried on raised beds”

B. Lloyd sig drink: pomegranate balsamic vinegar, fig preserve, chilled espresso, topped with sweetened frothed cream

Derrick Wessels, Beagle Coffee Company, Fort Collins, CO–205.5

Western Day 1 - Derrick Wessels - Beagle Coffee

“red wine and clementines” up front in these espressos from D. Wessels and Beagle Coffee Company in Fort Collins

Cortado for milk drink here from D. Wessels of Beagle Coffee—the cortado seems the milk drink of choice so far here at #uscoffeechamps

Jeffrey Dow, Steamdot Coffee Roasters, Anchorage, AK–175

Western Day 1 - Jeffrey Dow - Steamdot

Mr. Dow of @steamdotlab in Alaska is surely the longest traveled competitor here at #uscoffeechamps

J. Dow of @steamdotlab competes here with a caturra & castillo blend from Colombia

cane sugar sweetness and pomegranate acidity” in J. Dow’s Colombian espressos

“blackberry sweetness and creaminess” in Jeffrey Dow’s #uscoffeechamps milk drinks

Mae Clark, Street Bean, Seattle, WA–DQ

Western Day 1 - Mae Clark - Street Bean 01

Mae Clark competes with a @cafeimports@banexport coffee from Colombia’s Cauca Best Cup competition

spro notes of the day from @coffeememae “Pomelo brightness, sweet plum note, brown butter & coconut sugar, watermelon candy”

grass fed cows contributed to @coffeememae‘s milk drinks—unhomogenized, unseparated, with “a little bit of magic” #uscoffeechamps

Matthew B. Henderson, Lift Coffee Roasters, Riverside, CA–198.5

Western Day 1 - Matthew Hendersoni - Lift Coffee

Pulped natural Brazil coffee here from Matt Henderson of @liftcoffeeshop—”a balanced cup, chocolate, heavy body”

Brazil paired with some Mexico Chiapas washed here in M. Henderson’s #uscoffeechamps espressos

nice capp notes from the competitor from @liftcoffeeshop—”peanut brittle, baked fruit, subtle cherry tartness”

Kelly Sanchez, Blue Bottle Coffee Co, Oakland, CA–297

Western Day 1 - Kelly Sanchez - Blue Bottle 03

K. Sanchez competes with a coffee from Santa Sofia in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

espresso has notes of “ginger juice with a pomegranate finish”—that sounds good Kelly Sanchez, can has?

We agree that Kelly Sanchez’s mustache is the very best mustache so far at #uscoffeechamps

caradamom candy bridge to stir ginger, cranberry, and maple ingredients together in K. Sanchez’s sig drinks

Hugo Cano, Bar Nine Coffee, Culver City, CA–204

Western Day 1 - Hugo Cano - Bar Nine

“The only way to protect a tradition is to evolve it…without dismissing the past”

H. Cano competes with a Colombian coffee—three caturra sub varietes, wet process—from a small group of growers

chilled espresso, seltzer, and peach syrup in Hugo Cano’s #uscoffeechamps sig drink