Welcome to our complete coverage of Day One at the 2014 United States Barista Championship. The following 24 baristas earned their appearance by placing in the top 6 at a series of regional events earlier in the season. Of this group, 6 were selected to move on to Semi-Finals Saturday at USBC. These advancing competitors are indicated below.
Sprudge.com's coverage of the 2014 United States Barista Championship is made possible by direct support from our friends and partners at Cafe Imports and The Wilbur Curtis Company. All of our 2014 coverage–regional, national, international, intergalactic–has been underwritten in partnership with Nuova Simonelli. We're proud to serve as official media partners of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
All photos by Charlie Burt for Sprudge.com.
This is Mr. Taves second consecutive USBC appearance — he advanced to semi-finals in 2013. Josh Taves placed third at the 2014 Big Central barista competition — by just two points!
Tannic acidity, plum sweetness, root beer bitterness, medium body & smoothness for Mr Taves' coffee from Indonesia — S-7 95 variety coffee, a relatively uncommon variety of typica, fully washed, and grown at 1200-1900 meters.
Mr. Taves' sig drink: cucumber and licorice root infusion, grenadine, and smoked cinnamon sticks. All drinks down at 14:15 for Taves — time to clean, closes out by giving judges a sample of his coffee to take home
Patrick Burns represents, @palacecoffee, who featured as part of an in-depth series on coffee in the Texas Panhandle Mr. Burns' routine: “keeping coffee simple, using it in many different ways, and helping you enjoy the process”.
Cappuccinos with “notes of apple pie, sweet caramel” for Corey Critchfield of PDX mainstay@CaseStudyCoffee. Mr. Critchfield's sig drink is inspired by mocochinchi, a style of Bolivian peach cider.
Mr. La's cappuccinos served with a separate “sniffing cup” with aromatics of a natural processed coffee. Dehydrated then rehydrated fruits for @flalessinhim‘s #USBC2014 sig drink — tart cherries, kombucha, honey, and Perla Negra espresso. Frank La calls time at 14:58.
“Coffee has to work as an ingredient among other ingredients.” — Corey Reilly. In the cappuccinos, he says that is a “cocoa-y cinnamon from the coffee, caramel from the milk, and a malty finish.” His signature drink a riff on classic tiki cocktails — lime juice, spiced simple syrup, brown sugar, chilled.
6. Dawn Shanks, Independent, Washington DC @DawnShanks
“Texture has a huge impact on taste perception…if expected texture doesn't line up, your brain can get hung up.” Sig drink: cherry juice & xanthan gum on the rim, aloe juice, raspberry juice, @counter_culture Idido espresso. Dawn Shanks calls time at 15:03.
Ms. Strader splits her judges — 1/2 of her panel is to pretend they're nervous barista competitors! “Judges, if you do the same thing every time, your tech scores are likely to be good.”
“Grapefruit, concord grapes and walnuts” in @talyastrader‘s espressos, featuring a Costa Rican coffee from the Tarrazu canton. Walnut oil, demerara syrup, heavy whipping cream, grape juice, whole milk in @talyastrader‘s affogato sig drink. Talya Strader, maker of the world's tiniest batch of high-pressure on stage ice cream.
Beautiful, patriotic table setting here from @mikenorth, using overlayed blue & white banners w/ red mats on his table. For Mike Marquard, this #USBC2014 routine is all about flavority clarity–talking about bringing focus and energy to bear in drinks.
Mike is using non-traditional cappuccino cups with no handles, bringing more “warmth and a casual, social drinking experience”. He is using the @BlueprintCoffee Victor Molano microlot from Colombia, sourced by @CafeImports http://www.blueprintcoffee.com/victor-molano.html. For his sig drink, Mike makes dry ice quick ice cream, w/ tangerine & sour cherry syrup, white chocolate ganache. Time at 15:02.
Sam serves two different sparkling waters at table, 1 infused w/ apricot nectar, 1 w/ candied lemon–the tasting notes of his coffee. Pre-dosed/pre-ground coffee via @MAHLKOENIG EK43 + jam funnels being used to pull all shots in @s_schro‘s #USBC2014 routine.
@nikpurvis was a dark-horse finalist in last year's USBC, representing @leFRENCHPRESS from Santa Barbara, CA. We recently wrote about @leFRENCHPRESS moving into roasting here https://sprudge.com/castle-roasting-santa-barbara.html Nick competes today with a Colombian coffee, La Laguna, found via @CafeImports Best of Huila auction.
The La Laguna has sweetness that @nikpurvis says is best brought out cool, so he asks the judges to stir his espressos 10-15 times. Lots of technical details sprinkled in @nikpurvis‘s routine, expertly woven into the story of the farmer's and roaster's work on the coffee. His sig drink includes his own fermented tangerine bitters, panela syrup, cacao infused ice cubes w/ calibrated dilution.
@jesseraub of @Intelligentsia is up now. Raub-town, raub-y, j-raub, that guy on the internet, whatever you wanna call him, he's ready to go. He talks the overarching importance of bean-density, how elevation leads to complex high-density coffees–harder to roast & extract. At #USBC2014 @jesseraub uses a pulped Brazilian coffee grown fairly low altitude, 1100masl, in the Bahia region, roasted by @Intelligentsia.
Predictably smooth & sexy g-funk flavored jams from @jesseraub #USBC2014, paired with a modern, minimal table setting focused on light wood. Jesse's sig-drink: diluted with juniper berries & orange peel infusion for taste, with partially dehydrated olive oil for tactile.
Succinct, direct service from Tim at #USBC2014, mirroring his all black & white table settings. Tim's sig drink includes espresso, quinine, orange water. Powering through mic issues, Tim calls time at 15:55.
Sam Brown is up next at #USBC2014, representing @StoneCreekCoffe in Milwaukee. Brown competes with a Costa Rican coffee from La Concepcion. Brown goes in depth on the farm story of his coffee: “white honey” processing, multiple sortings, importing by @exclusivecoffee.
Sam from @StoneCreekCoffe doing a great job w/ little service details: informing judges of what he's doing, when he's going to step away etc. Sam did his own malolactic fermentation of peaches and figs to combine with almond aromatic essences for his #usbc2014 sig drink.
David Buehrer is representing Greenway Coffee and Blacksmith down in Houston, where we recently visited and wrote about here. A bit of early intrigue from @greenwaybarista: “Please don't open the envelopes on your table until after the espresso course”.
Gettin fancy: using coffee from Ciwidey Indonesia, using 5 variety 1400masl blend for drip to open, a 3 variety blend, grown at 1500masl for cappuccinos, and a single variety grown at 1700masl on the same farm for his #USBC2014 espressos and sig drinks. Asks judges to open up envelopes after trying their espresso, a honey-process experiment, revealing its Indonesian origin.
Sig drink is based on the Indonesian drink Jamu. Raspberries, malted barley syrup, roasted lime, fresh ginger.
Bethany Hargrove, @Bethany_ynahteB, is representing @thefreshpotcafe in PDX, #usbc2014, using a Peruvian coffee roasted by @stumptowncoffee. She has a great energy on stage, clearly having fun and staying calm here.
She uses milk from PDX mainstay Sunshine Dairy: “I want to make a cappuccino that you could get from me at @thefreshpotcafe“. Big Northwest crowd cheering for @Bethany_ynahteB as she wraps up her #usbc2015 presentation with a smile at 14:45.
Serious farm information and experimentation provided by Row. 90% picked at fully ripe, 10% overripe for extra sweetness. Row throws a french-press filter coil into the shaker for his espresso, grapefruit simple and vanilla essence sig drink, for a thicker foam. Strong presentation from Row, focused on the “we” of his coffee, everyone behind it at @HonoluluCoffee. Time called at 15:26.
Spherified ice in @hadassahedith‘s sig drink, with unrefined cane sugar, lemon zest, clove infusion, and tonic water– it's like we're at a fancy cocktail bar you guys.
60% Colombia, 40% Caturra in Mr. Butterworth's #USBC2014 espresso “tangerine, rhubarb, & a rich cane sweetness”. Sig drink is six shots of espresso filtered through V60, w/ rhubard syrup, NA peach bitters, glass rimmed w/ tangerine oil, on the rocks, ice made w/ Kentucky limestone water.
Mr. Grassmick starts out with a series of water infusions, including cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg & vanilla bean. Mr. Grassmick competes with @madcapcoffee‘s Ethiopia Reko — a washed coffee made up of many heirloom varieties.
“sometimes there's just nothing better than a cappuccino to start your day” –amen, brothers!
Ms. Brady's coffee here at #USBC2014 hails from Tolima, Colombia, a caturra variety coffee named for producer Victor Molano, roasted by @BlueprintCoffee. Worth mentioning — @blueprintcoffee proudly lists their importers right on their product bags. More roasters should do this!
Smart music from @snackpackbrady, competing at #usbc2014 to @SylvanEsso‘s single “Coffee”. Year in and year out @snackpackbrady is one of our very favorite competitors. routines always so considered. Ms. Brady's sig drink: meyer lemon juice, beet & turbinado syrup, skimmed espresso charged w/ NO2.
It's Bronwen Serna, representing @VashonCoffeeCo and her home city of Seattle. Bronwen Serna was the 2004 United States Barista Champion. “The best coffee comes from engaging your mind and all your senses.” – Bronwen Serna at #USBC2014.
2 distinct roast profiles in @bdserna‘s #USBC2014 routine — an acidity-based profile & a body-based profile. Ms. Serna's #USBC2014 coffee was sourced in Huila, Colombia by @cafeimports — Finca Las Brisas. Learn more.
Bronwen Serna's espressos served for 6! 4 sensory judges, extra shot for the head judge, & a shot for herself. cheers! Ms. Serna competes here at #usbc2014 using milk from @PureEire, a dairy in Othello, Washington, that had an excellent presentation at the SCAA Symposium earlier this week. Learn more: http://www.pureeiredairy.com Ms. Serna's sig drink: coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and milk from @pureeire to make a con panna, w/ cinnamon. “Your drinks are going to be served in pure crystal. this is dessert…why not treat yourself?” — Bronwen Serna.
“My goal today is to take us on a small tour of natural acids, to see how they influence coffee” — Christopher Casassa
sig drink for @LoveofC : sifted espresso shots, black currant soda, malic acid, fructose and salt, charged with Co2. This is an intense, scientific routine from @LoveofC, but still playful — don't be scared of acids, people! they are our friends.
Tamara Vigil is a seasoned competitor, and has a bit of swagger onstage — chatting lightly with the judges while pouring capps. Espresso, simple syrup foam, lemon rind in Tamara Vigil's #USBC2014 sig drinks, served cold.
Mr. Nerswick competes here at #USBC2014 with @counter_culture‘s Papua New Guinea Baroida — learn more. Our partners at @counter_culture have a strong relationship w/ @fiveandten (home to @nateners) & its proprietor @hughacheson. Check out Sprudge's exclusive feature on the gorgeous 5&10 here. As part of our @fiveandten feature we were lucky enough to interview chef & coffee lover @hughacheson.
Oh my god it almost took all day but finally someone played fleetwood mac. #youmakelovingfun. Mr. Nerswick wins best soundtrack of the day. Like your cool friend's dad's mixtape or something… tears for fears, etc.
This is an origin-focused routine, w/ heaps of information about the producers behind @counter_culture PNG Baroida. Mr. Nerswick's sig drink includes ground clove, brown sugar molasses, cascara from @aidabatlle and espresso. Mr. Nerswick's sig drink served in champagne coup, garnished with candied apricots and dry cascara.
All photos by Charlie Burt (@PartyWarlock) for Sprudge.com