The 2023 US Barista Championship has come and gone, and we our still trying to wrap our heads around what we all just witnessed. Nonetheless there were a few trends that have emerged from the weekend’s worth of competition. One of those trends isn’t new exactly, but it appears to be as pervasive as ever, and that is the prevalence of the Gesha variety at the USBC, anaerobic fermented Gesha in particular.
Going back to the Semi-Final round, nine of the total 18 competitors used a Gesha variety coffee, seven undergoing anaerobic fermentation; the only non-anaerobic Geshas were from Jenna Gotthelf and Morgan Eckroth, the latter’s coffee undergoing a natural carbonic maceration process from renowned producer Jameson Savage in the Chiriquí region of Panama. (Learn more about Gotthelf’s coffee here.) As the competition progressed further into the Finals, Gesha took up an even larger marketshare of all coffees being presented. Four out of the six Finalists all used Gesha, three of them anaerobic.
Along with the aforementioned cabonically macerated Gesh from Eckroth, we saw anaerobic fermented Geshas from the likes of Frank La (Finca Juan Martin in Cauca, Colombia), Reef Bessette (El Paraiso in Cauca, Colombia), and Juan Diaz (Mikava Farms in Colombia), who also used a Sidra variety blended in with the Gesha in different proportions depending on the course.
Yet even with the overall success of Gesha in competition, it was not able to achieve the ultimate success this year. Competitors that used Geshas placed second, third, fifth, and sixth in 2023, but the winning coffee was a more mainstream, a variety that while rare doesn’t always come with the price tag of Geshas and other experimental micro-lots often used in competition. The top spot went to Isaiah Sheese of Archetype Coffee and his Pink Bourbon, produced at Finca Buena Vista in Guatemala before being turned over to Diego Bermudez of Finca El Paraiso in Colombia for his proprietary “thermal shock” processing.
Of course, the USBC isn’t a coffee-buying exactly. Competitors must still go out and execute a flawless routine, racking up hidden technical points that even the most eagle-eye viewer may be unaware of. Having a Gesha coffee that most in the world will never get to experience isn’t a golden ticket into the World Barista Championship, or even the Finals or Semi-Finals of the USBC, but it is hard to deny their efficacy of putting a competitor into the conversation for that top spot. And right now in 2023, the most prevalent way of getting that leg up—or trying to level the playing field with those looking to get a leg up—is with a Gesha, an anaerobic fermented Gesha.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.