Welcome to the Sweet 18 Semi-Finals at the 2013 United States Barista Championship. Tweets in this feature are taken from our @SprudgeLive Twitter feed, providing competition play-by-play for every last competitor of the 2013 USBC regional and national cycle, with international coverage coming this May at the World Barista Championship in Melbourne.

Coverage of the 2013 United States Barista Championship has been made possible by direct support from our partners at Counter Culture Coffee and Nuova Simonelli.

Original competition photography by Charlie Burt for Sprudge.com.

1. Charles BabinskiG&B, Los Angeles, CA


10:28 mr. babinski is competing using pre-ground, pre-weighed little silver cannisters of coffee for his espressos.

10:29 mr. babinski’s competition coffee is Colombia El Descanso, roasted by @49thParallel in Vancouver, BC

10:30 “we’re in no rush to taste them…as they cool, the flavors will reveal themselves” – @charlesbabinski on his competition espressos

10:33 two distinct sig drinks, two very different espresso preps – 70g shots vs. 30g shots – he’s got a point to make.

2. Lem ButlerCounter Culture Coffee, Durham, NC


10:39 mr. butler competes using @counter_culture‘s Kenya Thiriku here at #USBC – “slow and low roast profile”

10:42 lem’s one of the architects of how we understand competition today – an important part of this culture

10:46 sig drink “the illusion” – 4oz water, 19 grams organic sugar, 19 grams hibiscus, 1.5 grams lemon zest, espresso, pistachio

10:48 it’s such fun watching @sexyfoam work – the easy physicality, his verbal comfort with his judges, the dreads, all that confidence…

3. Josh TavesDogwood Coffee Company, MPLS


10:58 “instead of you taking notes, I’ve taken notes for you” – @coffeeuphigh has a series of chalkboard instructional props for his judges

11:01 mr. taves’ sig drink building blocks: cacao, dark brown sugar, extra virgin olive oil, cascara

11:05 mr. taves competes at #USBC using @dogwoodcoffee‘s Colombia Finca Miranda, not currently one of their online offerings … Finca Miranda is an 100% Colombia varietal – we’re hearing a lot about variety specificity here at #USBC

11:09 every single tasting note @coffeeuphigh gives the judges is anchored by text written on a series of blackboards.

4. Michael Harwood, Independent, Carrboro, NC


11:16 as per the encyclopedic USBC knowledge of Nick Cho – Mr. Harwood is the first-ever independent competitor to earn an appearance at USBC semi-finals.

11:17 “my name is Michael, and I’ll be your guide to Bufcafe Natural today” – Mr. Harwood competes using Counter Culture’s groundbreaking Rwandan Natural processed coffee from Bufcafe – learn more from our Fruit Bombs & Fermentation archives

11:20 “chocolate, berry on the nose, and even deeper in the cup” – mr. harwood on his espressos

11:24 mr. harwood has little tiny corked bottles of glycerine & sparkling water, dunkable spoons…I’m gonna call it now, Michael Harwood has the cutest sig drink at USBC

5. Charlie HabeggerIntelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, IL


11:35 “no biological thing is monolithic, including coffee – it’s a complex series of systems.”

11:38 mr. habegger competes at #USBC using @intelligentsia‘s Tres Santos, from Huila, Colombia – learn more

11:40 and there they are, the handleless espresso cups. before 2013, the use of handleless demitasse cost a competitor multiple points on the judges’ scoresheets – this rule has now been changed on account of Mr. Habegger’s 2012 USBC routine, when he through caution to the wind and served handleless espressos despite the point loss. we call it “the habegger rule” – it’s VERY rare for a single individual to influence a rule change, and that’s why the rule bears his name.

11:44 each judge has a lovely basil, blackberry & vanilla fruit bowl in front of them – @brainofcharlie pulls elements from each to build his sig drink – vanilla bean in simmering water, espresso shots pulled on top of blackberry & basil jam

6.  Travis BeckettPeregrine Espresso, Washington DC


11:54 Mr. Beckett competes with a blend of two coffees in his #USBC routine – both by @counter_cultureBolivia Nueva Llusta and Rwanda Buf Cafe natural. “I think it’s just a pretty stinkin’ awesome coffee.”

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11:58 mr. beckett was a 2012 #USBC finalist – his cafe (@peregrineDC) also produced the 2012 SE regional champ Lindsey Kiser.

12:02 Buf Cafe note: Sam & Epiphanie Muhirwa own a restaurant in nearby Karaba. great goat & plantain brochettes with scotch bonnet sauce. For more on Buf Cafe, check out our trip report from last summer, when we visited with Fair Trade USA and Counter Culture green buyer Tim Hill.

7. Katie CarguiloCounter Culture Coffee, NYC


12:15 ms. carguilo is serving @aidabatlle‘s Finca Kilimanjaro – a bourbon lot separation roasted by @counter_culture

12:17 tiny technical called here by  @katiecarguilo –  her mic pack came off. quick fix, right back to work, NBD you do you girl.

12:22 conceit behind @katiecarguilo‘s routine – “coffee gets made 3 times” – producing, roasting, brewing – each equally important

12:25 the little cider bowls @katiecarguilo serves her sig drink in are adorbs.

8. Pete LicataParisi Coffee, KCMO


12:32 you can kind of tell, @petelicata has been itching to get back on stage for the last two months – never more comfortable he is here under the lights. and he’s wearing the same power shirt that got him into SC Finals in Kansas City!

12:35 “a full-bodied red wine, like a zinfandel; green grape acidity; a deep, heavy sweetness” – @petelicata on his espressos

12:41 pete cruising into his sig drink course – gorgeous cocktail-esque set-up here for him. coup glasses, pitchers, rocks…drink itself is chilled espresso, palm sugar simple syrup, non-alcoholic orange peel & lemongrass bitters

12:44 “i don’t think a drink has to be incredibly complicated to be incredibly delicious”

12:46 pete is so pro – drinks down at 14:15, time to wrack up those attention to detail points & clean – calls time at 14:52

9. Collin SchneiderSterling Coffee Roasters, PDX


12:51 “i chose my coffee not for its acidity – which I love – but for its versatility” – mr. schneider competes using Sterling Coffee Roaster’s Colombia Pedregal Palmera – learn more.

12:52 this routine is built around the notion of respecting customer’s preferences. it’s what they want that matters.

1:01 mr. schneider is so detail oriented – stopping to clean around the knock box, brush the grinder, keeping his set perfect as he goes

1:03 sig drink: diluted gastrique, mallic apple cider vinegar, whipped crema cream, espresso – yum.

10. Kevin BohlinSaint Frank Coffee, San Francisco


1:14 mr. bohlin competes using a coffee from San Vicente, Honduras – “super fresh and sparkling, still in harvest right now”

1:16 mr. bohlin is about to open his own cafe in San Francisco, called Saint Frank Coffee – learn more!

1:18 mr. bohlin is dedicated to a unique synergy with producers – he travels to honduras to expertly brew coffee for folks there.

11. Devin ChapmanCoava Coffee Roasters, PDX


1:38 “at @coavacoffee, we have the best customers – they come out of the way because they love our service & sensory experience”

1:43 mr. chapman competes at #USBC using @coavacoffee‘s David Mancia Honduras Finca La Familia – learn more.

1:47: sig drink: milk infused with cedar & honey comb, filtered into whey, then strawberries charged with co2

1:49 mr. chapman calls time at 15:01 – “@coavacoffee is my farm. you’re my consumers.”

12. Scott LuceyAlterra Coffee Roasters, Milwaukee, WI


1:52 “coffee shouldn’t be free – there’s so much that goes into a good cup of coffee, you can’t just give it away!”

1:53 starts with two cups of milk – straight milk and date-infused milk – “My coffee in the cappuccino tastes like date”

2:02 mr. lucy’s coffee is a caturra & bourbon – from Finca Las Acacias and producer Nelson Melo, roasted by @alterracoffee

2:04 on the coup glasses in his sig drink: “can you believe this glass was designed in the 1600s? that’s a long time ago!” … cocktail-focused sig drink from @scottlucey– “a prolonged experience of these flavors”

2:05 all drinks down at an astonishing 13:15 for @scottlucey– one of the quickest & most efficient services i’ve ever seen frankly

13. Nick PurvisThe French Press, Santa Barbara, CA


2:21 “flavor builds trust, and that’s the most important gateway in building appreciation of specialty coffee” -Nick Purvis

2:21 mr. purvis competes here at #USBCusing @VerveCoffee‘s Colombia Los Naranjos

2:28 nick purvis’ sig drink station is VERY complex – siphons, reamers, sauce pans, coup glasses, baby chemexes…

14. Sam LewontinEveryman Espresso, NYC


2:40 as he did at the NE regional, @coffeeandbikescompetes at #USBCwith @counter_culture‘s Burundi Mpembe

2:43 here’s a cool video we filmed with sam in advance of that @sustharvLet’s Talk Coffee event:

2:45 sig drink portion is structured as a kind of “build your own adventure” – learn more – “the drink i’m about to prepare for you is one of 16 possible variations.” how’s that for degree of difficulty?

15. Jacque DesMaraisKaldi’s Coffee, St. Louis, MO


3:04 appreciating the respect @jacquedesmaraishas for her producers – mr. medina and mr. sanchez, both in Huila, Colombia

3:07 layering shots in her portafilter throughout – technically difficult, ambitious … sweetness from mr. sanchez’s coffee, acidity from mr. medina’s coffee – different varieties, 75 miles apart in Huila

3:14 ms. desmarais keeps saying “cherry soda” as one of her espresso notes. this is possibly the best espresso note ever.

16. Collin WhitcombMadCap Coffee Roasters, Washington DC


3:24 “cappuccinos are delicious but they’re not always super-smelly, right? i’m trying to introduce some fragrance.”

3:27 mr. whitcomb competes using @madcapcoffee‘s Luis Reinoso, a caturra & bourbon from Colombia

3:33 sig drink: heavy whipping cream, plum sugar, dark brown sugar syrup – cinnamon aromatic foam

3:35 i think @RWillbur just got @colinwhitcomb‘s bubble foam on his upper lip.

17. Eden-Marie AbramowiczIntelligentsia Coffee, Los Angeles, CA


3:41 ms. abramowicz competes here at #USBCsemi’s with @intelligentsia‘s Tres Santos Limited Edition – learn more –  Tres Santos LE is grown in Cauca, Colombia – caturra and bourbon varieties, 1750-1850 meters

3:42 dancing as she pulls shots…serves an extra one for the head judge and an extra for herself

3:45 a stacked tray of brown sugar, grapefruit, and raspberry – @missedenmarie raises & lowers them as they appear in her drinks’ flavors

3:51 “a coffee’s innate characteristics are always going to be present, no matter how we brew it”

18. Trevor CorlettMadCap Coffee Roasters, Washington DC


3:57 mr. corlett closes the day w/ routine centered around “seasonality” – old crop, fresh crop, what does it mean?

3:58 mr. corlett competes with two harvests of @madcapcoffee‘s Didier Reinoso Colombia – July 2012 harvest & December 2012 harvest … learn more about MadCap’s Didier Reinoso

4:03 watching @tjorlet compete is also fun because you are pretty much guaranteed to get some 90’s radio buttrock.

4:04 @1solidserrano just openly dancing in the background of @tjorlet‘s performance. Nappy Roots etc aw naw hell naw

4:09 mr. corlett’s sig drink: egg white, maple syrup for “past crop” – “fresh crop” w/ just a bit of reduced grapefruit juice … grapefruit used as a garnish in @tjorlet‘s “fresh crop” sig drink, with burnt sugars on top – there’s a blowtorch on stage at #usbc

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