Cole McBride of PublicUs in Las Vegas, Nevada has won the Western Conference opening round at the 2016 US Coffee Championships Qualifying Event. This is Cole McBride's first divisional win at the newly reformatted event—indeed, it's the first time *anyone* has won the brand new Western Conference in the American barista competition tournament, making McBride the first-ever US Barista Championship Western Conference Champion.
A seasoned competitor, Cole McBride's no stranger to the barista competition stage—he's been competing since 2011, making this his fifth appearance in the USBC tournament. His past highest placement was second in the 2016 season. McBride has shown remarkable consistency year after year in developing key collaborative partners for his competition routines—sourcing coffee in partnership with Joe Marrocco at Cafe Imports, and roasting that coffee in partnership with Velton Ross at Velton's Coffee, a small, quality-focused coffee roaster located in the Seattle suburbs.
This year's coffee for Cole McBride comes from producer Juan Francisco Peña Guillen of Hacienda La Papaya in Saraguro, southern Ecuador. This is a fully washed, typica variety coffee, high grown at 2100 MASL by the young Mr. Guillen, who comes from a multi-generation farmer family but is relatively new to coffee. You can learn much more about Hacienda La Papaya via Cafe Imports. For his signature drink, inspired by molecular gastronomy, McBride paired his coffee with non-alcoholic elderflower extract, unflavored carbonate sugar, and twelve drops of champagne acid—resulting in a kind of homespun version of Pop Rocks, the delightful popping candy.
Cole McBride earns a first-round bye at the upcoming US Barista Championship tournament this April in Atlanta, as well as airfare and accommodations at that event. But he's not the only competitor whose fate is now set to appear in Atlanta. Five more competitors have advanced to the national tournament by placing in the top six of the Western Conference. Let's meet all six.
1. Cole McBride, PublicUS, Las Vegas, NV
2. Sam Schroeder, Olympia Coffee Roasting Co, Olympia, WA
3. Becky Reeves, Ristretto Roasters, Portland, OR
4. Tyler G. Hill, The Principal’s Office, Colorado Springs, CO
5. Bethany Hargrove, Barista, Portland, OR
6. Devin J. Chapman, La Colombe, Los Angeles, CA
US Coffee Championships action continues today with the Eastern Conference, and we're covering the whole thing live on Twitter at @SprudgeLive and at SprudgeLive.com, our sister site dedicated to coffee competitions. All our coffee competition coverage in 2016—conference, national and international—is produced in partnership with our sponsors at Urnex Brands.