Kyle Ramage of Mahlkonig USA in Durham, NC, has won the 2017 United States Barista Championship. Over the past three days in the Seattle, Washington, 36 of the country’s best baristas put together their tightest 15 minute presentations to vie for the title of US Barista Champion. Those 36 were whittled down to 18, then six, and ultimately, down to just one. That one is Kyle Ramage. This is Ramage’s first career US Barista Championship win, after competing in previous years at the regional and national level. Ramage now moves on to represent the United States at the 2017 World Barista Championship taking place in Seoul, South Korea between November 9th and 12th.
Ramage is a somewhat different sort of competitor, working for a coffee equipment company and not a roastery or cafe, and in fact is the first US national champion to hail from a non-coffee making company. But this didn't seem to slow Ramage in his pursuit of the title. Not in the least bit. His routine was one of experimentation and science, shouting out MIT chemist and Water for Coffee co-author Christopher Hendon and utilizing dry ice frozen coffee (-79°C to be exact). Ramage spent a good portion of his routine donning cold resistant gloves as he was moving back and forth between his dry ice chest and Mahlkonig EK-43 grinder.
But Ramage's routine relied upon more than just crazy science tricks; he also had a beautiful Geisha variety coffee from Finca Nuguo in Jurutungo, Panama processed in two ways: honeyed and natural. Grown at 1800MASL and roasted by Counter Culture, this is the same coffee that 2016 US Barista Champion Lem Butler used in competition, though Butler's was from the previous year's crop and fully washed. In the milk course Ramage employed the naturally processed version of the Nuguo coffee.
For the other two courses, Ramage utilized the honey processed Finca Nuguo, which during his presentation was expressing notes of jasmine, lime, citrus, and rainier cherry. To play off these flavors, Ramage created a signature beverage from a Mosaic hop tea, a dark honey simple syrup, and a tartaric acid solution, all nitrous charged and served semi-chilled.
We'll see Ramage again in November for the World Barista Championship in Seoul. Much more coverage of Kyle Ramage’s win, and all of the 2017 United States Barista Championship competitors, can be found on SprudgeLive.com, our sister site dedicated to coffee sports.
Sprudge’s coverage of the 2017 US Barista Championship is made possible by Baratza, Cafe Imports, AeroPress, Pacific Natural Foods, Hario, and Swiss Water Decaf. All of our 2017 Barista Competition coverage worldwide is supported by Urnex Brands and Nuova Simonelli.
Coverage at the 2017 US Barista Championship is produced by Zac Cadwalader. Photos by Charlie Burt and Liz Chai for Sprudge Media Network, all rights reserved. Contact us for photo use.