Congratulations are in order to Austin Amento, owner of Augie’s Coffee in Redlands, California, for winning the 2016 United States Cup Tasters Championship. This competition takes skills learned through the formal coffee evaluation process—”cupping” in professional parlance—and gamifies them into a test of sensory acuity and speed. Austin Amento beat out two dozen of his fellow countrymen and women at this year’s event in San Francisco, held in conjunction with the 2016 Good Food Awards. Amento now advances to represent the United States at the 2016 World Cup Tasters Championship, beginning March 29th in Shanghai, China.

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Affable and well-liked by his New Wave coffee industry peers, Austin Amento is known as an astute and gifted coffee taster, having won the Populace Coffee “Flight of Fancy” blind coffee evaluation competition for the last two years running. His performance at this year’s Cup Tasters event drew gasps and cheers from the crowd, who watched on as Mr. Amento went a remarkable 8 for 8 through the first two rounds of the competition—the coffee equivalent of pitching a perfect game in baseball. In the final round he faltered, but only slightly, finishing with a total score of 23 out of 24 cups guessed correctly, winning the tournament outright on points.

Finalist Steve Hyun (left) competes alongside Piero Cristiani of Cafe Imports (center) and Siobhan Gottlieb of Volcafe.
Volunteer James Gibbs of Allegro Coffee helps prepare coffee sets.

Other top competitors had a strong showing at the US Cup Tasters event, including fellow finalists Leslie Mah of Ritual Coffee in San Francisco and Adam Walsh of JBC Coffee in Madison, Wisconsin. Semi-finalists for this year’s event included Jason Farrar of Commonwealth Coffee in Denver, Steve Hyun of Andante Coffee in Los Angeles, and fan favorite Amanda Juris of Verve Coffee Roasters, back to defend her title from the 2014 season. Other notable competitors in this year’s field included last year’s champion, James Tooill of La Colombe Coffee, 2016 Sprudgie Award nominee Joe Marrocco of Cafe Imports, and Percy Ramirez of San Francisco’s own Saint Frank Coffee.

Semi-finalist Amanda Juris of Verve Coffee.

It was our pleasure and privilege to cover this event as a media partner of both the Good Food Awards and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. All of’s 2016 competition coverage is sponsored by Urnex Brands. Look for much more coverage from the world of competitive coffee upcoming on Sprudge Media Network, including team coverage from the 2016 US Coffee Championships Qualifying Event happening the first week of February in Kansas City, Missouri.

Later this week we’ll have an interview with Cup Tasters champ Austin Amento, conducted live from the afterglow of his big win at the event. Stay tuned!

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