Welcome to the Southeast Regional Barista Competition, the first event of the 2013 United States Barista Championship cycle. Sprudge.com will be reporting to you live all weekend long from Atlanta as your Official Digital Media Sponsors, as anointed by our partners at the SCAA. Stay tuned all weekend long to Sprudge for recaps, finalist schedule announcements, videos, .gifs, and more from the event, and follow @SprudgeLive for up-to-the-minute live Twitter coverage of each and every competitor.
Click here for the Barista Competition schedule, and click here for the Brewers Cup schedule, all arranged in handy-dandy quick-access form with Twitter handles. We'll have Finals schedules available to immediately after the finalists are called on Saturday afternoon.
Atlanta! It's one of our favorite cities in the country, and we can't wait to spend some fine quality time there with the best and brightest from the Southeast specialty coffee scene. This year's SERBC event is the smallest field of competitors in recent memory – just 15 baristas are signed up – but it's absolutely packed with talent and experience. We think it's funny that people kind of sleep on the Southeast; there are some very serious and talented baristas who compete out of this region. The Southeast placed 4 baristas in last year's USBC Sweet 18, and three of them are back: including Trevor Corlett of MadCap Coffee, Lemuel Butler of Counter Culture Coffee, and Travis Beckett of Peregrine Espresso (who made it all the way to Finals Sunday last year). The Southeast also features several other top competitors, including the seasoned and charismatic Lemuel Butler (of Counter Culture Coffee), 2011 SERBC champ Michael Harwood (of Carrboro Coffee), and Camila Ramos (of Panther Coffee), whose endlessly creative routine last season incorporated traditional Cuban music and a vaporized cigar.
One of the big storylines we're following is Octane Coffee, who switched from Counter Culture to their own line of roasted coffee just in time for last year's SERBC. With another year of roasting under their belt and a whopping 3 competitors in the field, will this be Octane's year?
No fewer than 1/3 of the entire field will compete using Counter Culture Coffee, including the competitors from Jubala Village and Peregrine Espresso. Counter Culture's buzz has yet to fade from Katie Carguilo's 2012 USBC win, but they'd sure love to start this year's competition season off with a regional win. We're especially watching the baristas from Peregrine Espresso, a shop that won last year's SERBC and placed a top-6 finalist at the national level.
Expect for Michael Harwood to put on a clinic this year, as he does every year. Harwood is one of the most precise, focused and detail-oriented competitive baristas in the world right now, and he's got years of experience to back that up. Smart money won't bet against him.
We're also very excited for this year's event location, hosted by Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters. Last year's event was at the Atlanta Convention Center, which was fine and all, but kind of drab and cavernous. This year's event is at the Ponce City Market, a a two million square-foot historic building project, or “adaptive reuse development” from the same folks who brought you New York City's Chelsea Market. There's an event center on-site, and we can't wait to see it.
On Thursday, join the whole community for a big ol' latte art throwdown at Condesa Coffee (480 John Wesley Dobbs Ave NE). The event kicks off at 7pm, so arrive promptly if you want to compete, because that sign-up sheet will fill up fast. The winner takes home some Counter Culture Coffee Variety: Gesha, a sweet Takahiro pouring kettle, and like $160 in cold, hard cash. Learn more from Facebook.
On Friday night there's a giant party happening at Batdorf's new Dancing Goats Coffee Bar (650 North Ave NE), conveniently located in the same Ponce City Market complex. RSVP on Facebook and learn more there too – there will be cornhole playin', DJ Quiet Entertainer, food trucks, beverages and more. Boom.
On Saturday, the official SERBC Barista Guild of America party is going down at 8pm at the Octane Coffee location in Grant Park (437 Memorial Drive SE). Octane's blog promises “craft-cocktail-induced debauchery” and a considerable snacking spread, so you know we'll be there.
See you in Atlanta!