USBC Qualifying Event—Western Conference Day One, Part One

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.

Eli Ramirez, Shift Coffee, Denton, TX—246

Western Day 1 - Eli Ramirez - Shift Coffee

Eli Ramirez is the first of a whopping 100 or so baristas we’ll watch over the next four days. hold me.

“We need to give everyone a reason to come in—and most importantly, a reason to come back.” @shiftcoffee @eli_ramirez237

“grapefruit acidity, sugary body, grapefruit rind—bourbon, caturra, and colombia”

Eli Ramirez calls time at 9:52 — which is now a normal and indeed beneficial time at which to call time.

Andy Fung, Hide Out Café, Rowland Heights, CA—198.5

Western Day 1 - Andy Fung - Hideout Cafe

Strawberries & espresso in Andy Fung’s signature drink here at #uscoffeechamps —”it tastes really sweet, but finishes with coffee”

“I’m so happy today to be a barista for you guys. Thank you.” – Andy Fung with an early lead for “most polite competitor” at #uscoffeechamps

Casey Soloria, Intelligentsia Coffee, Pasadena, CA—301

Western Day 1 - Casey Soloria - Intelligentsia

“The term ‘strong coffee’ is a pretty vague term…as a barista we’re thinking concentration”

“vanilla and butterscotch” notes in Casey Soloria’s sig drink—”PS? these little cups are for your spoons”

#uscoffeechamps prop bets on soundtracks: take the over on Selena; if you play “Hotline Bling” into anything by The Weeknd that’s a parlay

Suzy Lippmann, Augie’s Coffee Roasters, Redlands, CA—211.5

Western Day 1 - Suzy Lippmann - Augies Coffee

Team @augiescoffee already has one #uscoffeechamps winner—owner Austin Amento won the US Cup Tasters a few weeks ago in SF

it’s a La Palma y el Tucan coffee from Colombia for S Lippmann of @augiescoffee—hella high grown, anarobic pre-fermented

“Collaborating with the people close to me gave me the a-ha idea for my signature beverage”

S. Lippmann sig: “chilled espresso, cane sugar cocoa nib syrup, hibiscus & currant coriander lime gel foam”

Tamara Vigil, The Coffee House, Lincoln, NE—267.5

Western Day 1 - Tamara Vigil - The Coffee House 01

It’s a high grown Ecuadorian typica coffee here for Tamara Vigil –”hazelnut and toffee finish” in her milk drink

It’s a honey processed coffee here for T. Vigil—mucilage helps create added mouthfeel & depth in the coffee.

honey processed T. Vigil jammer has notes of “cherry fruit leather, baked green apple, sweet clean finish”

Joel Bigelow, PT’s Coffee Roasting Co, Topeka, KS—283

Western Day 1 - Joel Bigelow - PTs

If you’re playing #uscoffeechamps bingo you can mark the @aidabatlle box—@thejoelpaul competes w/ Finca Kilimanjaro Burundi Washed

“blood orange, blackberry, high percentage dark chocolate” in @thejoepaul’s #uscoffeechamps espresso from @ptscoffee & @aidabatlle

some hot takes here at the sprudge desk—”blood orange is this year’s meyer lemon” #hottakes

a nicely composed set here from @thejoelpaul and @ptscoffee — drinks down at 9, time to clean & say thanks, out at 9:44

Kim Alexander, Tanager Coffee Roasters/Cathedral, Portland, OR—177.5

Western Day 1 - Kim Alexander - Tanager 05

Cathedral Coffee is a *great* coffee house and bakery in the St. John’s neighborhood of PDX serving @tanagercoffee

K. Alexander’s serving a caturra from Peru—”This is such a special moment in my coffee career”

Ooh a cortado from Kim Alexander—under the new rules, smaller milk drinks are allowed and encouraged! #uscoffeechamps “caramel, apricot”

K. Alexander sig drink inspired by Baton Rouge—chicory, sassafras & sasparilla syrup paired with espresso & egg whites

Perry Czopp, The Coffee Chop, Phoenix, AZ—207

Western Day 1 - Perry Czopp - The Coffee Chop 01

P. Czopp went and picked cherries in Costa Rica—he’s got a real connection with the coffee served at #uscoffeechamps

It’s an agua dulce inspired sig drink from @thecoffeechop — a little sweet, a little bit of milk, a nice taste of Costa Rica

It sounds like @thecoffeechop was involved at all steps of the process for his #uscoffeechamps coffees—processing, roasting, brewing…

Jared Gum, Bar Francis, Olympia, WA—287

Western Day 1 - Jared Gum - Bar Francis 05

“heavy floral and citrus flavors” for J Gum’s #uscoffeechamps espresso — “dominated by heavy citrus, blood orange” #bloodorange

Jared Gum competes here at #uscoffeechamps with the @fourbarrel Friendo Blendo blend(o)—they serve 4b at @brfrncs

orange creamsicle and marshmallow notes in Jared Gum’s #uscoffeechamps milk drink—super rich and creamy

Jonathan Dail, Hidden House Coffee, San Juan Capistrano, CA—268.5

Western Day 1 - Jonathan Dail - Hidden House 04

“Coffee is a direct reflection of its terroir” — J. Dail has a “rue” plant up on stage with him

Rue is a shrub that grows wild in Ethiopia. Learn more here!

“bright tropical grapefruit” notes in @_donjail‘s espresso here at #uscoffeechamps—he roasted this coffee personally

Sig drink: Rue herb tisane, espresso, simple syrup, slapped rue—”bright, tropical, and sweet”

Chelsea Rae, The Roost, Lawrence, KS—DQ

Western Day 1 - Chelsea Rae - The Roost 04

C. Rae of @theroost920mass competes here at #uscoffeechamps with an organic Sidamo coffee, roasted by KCMO’s #broadwaycoffee

“cherry sweetneess, peppery notes” in C. Rae’s #uscoffeechamps espressos — for sig drink paired with marmalade & black pepper extract

flaming citrus zest finishes off C. Rae’s #uscoffeechamps sig drink