2009 United States Barista Championship (Day One)

By Joshua Lurie | March 5, 2009 9 comments
2009 United States Barista Championship (Day One)
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Portland, Oregon 97232
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From March 5-8, the Oregon Convention Center in Portland is hosting the United States Barista Championship. Throughout the competition, Food GPS is providing minute-by-minute reports on baristas who decided to compete for the American coffee crown:

Travis Edwards – Murky Coffee – Arlington, VA
For his cappuccinos, Edwards promised the judges “nutty sweetness from the milk, berry body, chocolate notes and lemon sweetness.” Edwards used a blend of Brazilian Ipanema Dolce, Sumatra Lake Tawar and Ethiopian beans. The Ethiopian bans for lemon sweetness and berry. Sumatra and Brazil provide “backbone” and chocolatey notes.

Edwards started by prepping his variation on a root beer float, boiling a brew that included brown sugar, sassafras, sasparilla and water. He let the mixture chill for a minutes in the fridge while he pulled shots of espresso. After serving his espressos, he poured the chilled “root beer” into glass martini glasses. During set-up, he made a whipped cream-espresso mixture. He spooned some inot the glass and added mineral water for a “crisper, cleaner” finish. He instructed the judges to stir and sip.

Claire Ghormley – Mon Ami Cafe – Vancouver, WA
Ghormley went with Stumptown’s Hair Bender espresso blend. She believes the washed Ethiopian component provides acidity and bright berry taste. Other aspects included Guatemalan, Honduran coffee for “sparkly chocolate” and Sumatran coffee for “earthy tones.”

Ghormley created a Mexican mocha based on an ice cream she used to make with local Sunshine dairy milk and espresso. She poured espresso over brown sugar to create caramelization. She poured on whole milk infused with Vietnamese cinnamon for “earthy, sweet, spicy” notes. She foamed the beverage like a cappuccino. Finally, the top layer involved half-and-half with heavy whipping cream infused with chocolate sauce.

Chris DeMarse – Alliance World Coffees – Muncie, IN
Brought two coffees that really opened my eyes to the idea naturally washed Ethiopia Siadamo and Brazilian Fezendo Cachoeira washed Bourbon. The combination brings out body, fruit and spice. Even though the coffees aren’t dark roasted, they really have a lot of body.

Organic milk that’s rich, sweet and buttery. With espresso, you’ll notice spicy blueberry aromatic. The first sip will be spicy, followed by a “candied raisin” body and anise.

For the espressos, the Siadamo develops sweet butteriness and blueberry aromatics.

DeMarse started by adding cinnamon, clove and banana to a cup of simple syrup and putting it over some heat. Over the summer, he drank a Belgian farmhouse ale, which was unlike any beer he’d had. The yeast in the bottle created spice and banana notes. To mimic that, he infused simple syrup with spices and fruit, stirred in whole milk and heavy cream. “The spice and the sweetness mimics the beer perfectly. The foam mimics the head of the beer.” DeMarse served the drink warm and asked the judges to stir the bottom with the top before enjoying.

Lorenzo Perkins – Caffe Medici – Austin, TX
Perkins went with a blend of Brazilian Moreniha Formosa (brown sugar caramel notes), Brazilian Ipanema Dolce, Cerra Las Ranas from El Salvador (for its acidity), a washed Guatemalan San Jose Ocoña and a natural processed Ethiopian Sidamo (for its sour cherry finish). He said, “This blend enables me to change the perception of coffee.

For his cappuccinos, Perkins said the creaminess complements the Brazilian component.

In his espresso, he told they judges they should detect brown sugar caramel and a “buttery body,” followed by “soft leather.”

Perkins mixed fresh squeezed Texas Rio Star grapefruits and basil with cream, sugar and vanilla, an Italian semifreddo. The basil added complexity to the chocolate and fruit finish. He pulled shots to add to the mixture.

Joshua Flail – Octane Coffee – Atlanta, GA
Flail selected a blend of Brazilian Ipanema Dolce and Fatima, plus Gayo from Sumatra’s Aceh province.

Flail enjoys spicy spicy food, so he added habanero to honey, but “this drink is not about the heat, it’s about the dark chocolate notes of the espresso and the spiciness.” He added espresso, honeycomb and chili powder for aesthetics.

Michael Elvin – Espresso Parts – Olympia, WA
Elvin’s blend utilized a Bolivian base, natural processed Ethiopian Sidamo and Guatemalan Loma Linda coffee. The Bolivian coffee offers “cherry notes, hints of chocolate and spice.”

To recreate the cola flavors in the Sidamo, chocolate notes in Guatemala and “fruity zing” from Bolivia, he added sparkling water to a glass, gently bruised some mint, added espresso, ice and lime on top.

Sara Peterson – The Abbey – Santa Cruz, CA
Her goal is to offer a “classic and fresh coffee experience.” She’s using an Ethiopian single-origin Yirgacheffe. 75% naturally processed Worka and 25% washed process Worka. From the washed coffee, you’ll get floral notes “like rose and lavender.” From the natural: “tart fruit.”

For cappuccinos, Peterson instructed judges to “take in the aroma first, savor and enjoy velvety foam.” When combined with milk, the Worka creates a “sweet yet balanced” flavor. The velvety foam is going to deliver the lavender floral notes. The milk imparts chocolate notes. The coffee offers a rose finish.

“I want to take the fruit notes, the dark chocolate from the natural and the floral from the washed.” She created a cherry reduction and added five drops to each plate. She infused cherries with whipping cream, lavender and rose for fresh whipped cream, then added a dab to each spoon. Finally, she infused crème anglaise with half-and-half, vanilla bean and a small amount of Scharffenberger 70% chocolate that has “very apparent fruit notes. Everything on this plate should remind you what you tasted today.” She instructed the judges to eat whipped cream off the spoon, dip the spoon in the cherry reduction and not to worry about the crème anglaise, yet. She pulled her shots of espresso. She poured the espresso on top, instructed the judges to swirl, take in the aroma and sip.

Cam Kellett – Lava Java – Ridgefield, WA
Kellett wanted a coffee with “big chocolate taste, citrus and a fruit finish.” He prepared a menu for each judge with a list of his coffees: Guatemalan Finca El Injerto for citrus notes, Sumatran Sum Mandeling “for spice,” Honduran Finca La Puente and Kocherie for “fruit juice” and “dark chocolate” notes.

For his cappuccinos, Kellett was worried buttery sweetness would overpower the espresso, so he blended two different milks, ensuring people would still get the chocolate notes.

Kellett wanted to create a drink to amplify the chocolate, citrus, fruit and spice found in his blend. He created a mole to accentuate the chocolate and spice and a cream to hype the citrus and fruit. The drink was inspired by a trip to Finca El Injerto. To honor the farm, he printed a photo on the back of his menu.

Devin Pedde – Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea – Los Angeles, CA
Pedde chose a washed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, primarily grown at 1900 meters. The process creates “clarity” and vivid flavors.

For his cappuccinos, Pedde expected the judges to fruit flavor from the coffee. He instructed the judges to sip the fruit and then taste the foam. Pedde predicted a “jammy texture” reminiscent of strawberry jam. Dosing the coffee at 18 grams brings out the fruit sweetness.

Before his performance, Pedde placed dishes of ingredients that matched the flavors he’s been tasting in his coffee, including cherries, Earl Grey tea, blueberries, persimmons, brown sugar and cherries. Pedde poured himself a shot of espresso to see which direction he’d take his performance. He tasted “clean acidity,” so he selected dried persimmon, which has almost candied citrus. He tasted bergamot, so he selected Earl Grey tea. At the bottom of the cup, he detected “port like sweetness,” so he grabbed strawberries. Pedde added brown sugar and put all the ingredients in a Belgian brewer to create an infusion. He poured the infusion, then added a shot of espresso to each glass. Finally, Pedde told the judges to pay attention to the aromatics of his fruit-forward drink before swirling and enjoying.

Mike Marquard – Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co. – St. Louis, MO
He used a blend of Sumatran, Brazilian and Salvadoran Cerra Las Ranas beans.

Marquard added sea salt and cocoa powder to a reduction, then added espresso, and once the reduction formed, contributed heavy whipping cream, then stirred it up to make a sauce. He added a touch of the sauce to the four shots of espresso. He said the citrus notes would play really nicely with the caramel notes.

“For me, the reason I’m here is all about relationships,” said Marquard.

Kevin Fuller – The Albina Press – Portland, OR
Fuller used an espresso blend sourced and roasted by hometown Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Steve Kirbach, Stumptown’s head roaster, had been working on this blend since late summer. It’s a single-origin blend, “which is kind of an oxymoron.” It’s one farm: Guatemala Finca El Injerto, with two coffee varietals: 70% Bourbon and 30% Pacamara. Finca El Injerto is the only farm in the world to win two different Cup of Excellence with two different varietals. Fuller predicted grapefruit notes from Pacamara and caramel from the Bourbon.

Fuller’s motivation for his signature drink was to “take the natural flavors from the two coffees and enhance them,” adding Graham crackers, caramel and grapefruit into the signature drink. He pulled all four shots into a cup with homemade caramel, whisked the mixture and poured it into individual glasses. He then steamed milk including six drops of cold-pressed grapefruit oil. He served the drink with grapefruit juice and topping the drink with crushed Graham crackers. He instructed the judges to smell and sip. “Have a sip of the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, which will help you pull out grapefruit flavors in the coffee.”

Jared Truby – Verve Coffee Roasters – Santa Cruz, CA
Truby selected a direct trade Panama Elida, a coffee with “crisp acidity,” herbaceous qualities, wine notes and a butterscotch finish. High elevation – 6000 feet – gives the coffee its unique acidity.

To honor the coffee farmer, Truby refused to use any flavor that’s not already present in the coffee. His signature beverage included cold-pressed Elida and a small amount of Concord grape juice. He infused cream with marjoram and added it to the mix. He layered on whipped cream and poured espresso over the top to bring it all together.

January Vawter – Blend Coffee – Portland, OR
Vawter used a San Sebastian coffee from the Las Mincas Project in Colombia, blended with a reserve Kenya with “blackberry fruity acidity.”

Vawter soaked cherries overnight in salt and sugar, then boiling them with blueberries to create a syrup-like concoction. She pulled her shots and added the syrup to each glass. She also utilized fresh lemon.

Ryan Knapp – MadCap Coffee – Grand Rapids, MI
Knapp used a single-origin coffee from El Salvador grown by Golria Mercedes Rodriguez. The beans are 100% Bourbon, fully washed and patio-dried. Knapp describes the coffee’s “acidity, spice and syrupy, thick body.”

Knapp prepared a ginger cardamom infusion with equal parts water and sugar. He pulled espresso shots directly on top, then added mascarpone.

Michael Phillips – Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea – Chicago, IL
Phillips’ blend incorporated three varieties of Bolivian coffee, including Tipica and Bourbon. He describes the prevailing flavors as “juicy berry-like acidity with some fig.” This is a low latitude, high altitude coffee, producing sweetness.

For his cappuccinos, Phillips increased the dose 18 grams to accentuate the acidity and other notes.

He began by steeping brown sugar, chocolate and salt with some heavy cream.


  1. That was a very nice post, I

  2. Tea Chef says:

    iced earl grey…

    Tea Chef…

  3. GLORIA says:

    Gracias Ryan Knapp por usar mi cafe de El Porvenir, exitos

  4. majohuezo says:

    I loved Ryan Knapp… he´s using my mom´s coffee!!!

  5. Matt says:

    Make them Bleed Devin!!!

  6. TJ says:

    Sara had a really solid performance, and I can say that her sig drink tastes amazing!

  7. aw actually sara peterson is pretty cool too. Go The Abbey!


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