I provided minute-by-minute reports on the 2009 United States Barista Championship from the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Today’s semi-final round revolves around the 25 remaining baristas, who are vying for six slots in Sunday’s finals.
Katie Duris – Murky Coffee – Arlington, VA (Mid Atlantic Champ)
Duris was out to prove that “Contrasting flavors and ingredients can complement each other.”
A three-bean blend with Brazilian Ipanema Dolce as the primary ingredient. She also incorporated a Sumatra from Lake Tawar and an Ethiopian Sidamo with a nice fruitiness that finishes very clean.
In cappuccinos, the coffee develops caramel and nutty notes.
In espresso, the coffee blend provides “wine like” and berry notes, finishing with a bit of cocoa.
Before moving on to the espressos, she had a pan of melted 70% dark chocolate with “nice fruitiness.” Add reduced balsamic vinegar and cream to a pan create a sauce. Figs and sweetened almond milk to prop up the sweetener coffees. In the spoon, the drunken fig accentuates wine-iness and below that is the balsamic.
Follow with drink, with almond notes on the nose.
Jesse Crouse – Intelligentsia Coffee – Chicago, IL
El Mirador, a Tipica coffee from Colombia, grown by Sr. Mirazalde. The tasting notes include Tempranillo grape and dried fig, with a cocoa finish.
With milk, the coffee’s bittersweet finish becomes candy-like, similar to a Tootsie Roll. Dried fig and date becomes malty. Tempranillo grape notes become blackberry.
A deconstructed con panna. Sig bev revolves around the coffee farm, starting with Vermont maple syrup, a denser syrup. Pour it in glasses, pour shots on top. Spicy herbaceousness. Foliage, the growth, how we see the coffee farm. Pistachio butter, blanched and pasted, added heavy cream to build roundness. He pulled his shots short and added them to the maple syrup. He asked the judges to eat the spoon of pistachio butter, then have signature beverage.
Michael Elvin – Espresso Parts – Olympia, WA
Big Truck, a blend of Bolivian Caranavi, Guatemalan Loma Linda and naturally processed Ethiopian Sidamo. The Bolivian offers notes of cherry, today more citrus. You’ll also find chocolate and spicy notes.
Combined with milk, it draws out flavors of Guatemalan into milk chocolate and caramel.
To bring out the flavor of the Sidamo, he used a teaspoon of brown sugar for caramel notes, a gently-bruised mint leaf for refreshing element, two ounces of seltzer water. On top of this: espresso, ice and lime. Flavors of cola, “coffee chocolate cola.”
Phuong Tran – Lava Java – Ridgefield, WA
A blend of orange Bourbon from El Salvador, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Sumatran Gayo Mountain, from near Lake Tawar. The blend imparts citrus and milk chocolate notes and a floral aroma.
For her cappuccinos, she selected a creamy milk that transform citrus into caramel while still being able to taste the cocoa.
Tran had the judges pass a glass of fresh honeydew puree for aroma’s sake. She dropped a tea bag of rose hips into liquid sugar to create an infusion, then prepared her espressos.
She asked the judges to use their spoons to transfer frozen domes of honeydew puree into their cups. She presented cups of rose hip-sugar infusion, asking each judge to add a spoonful to their honeydew. She presented espressos, asked the judges to enjoy the floral floral aroma, then add the shot to their honeydew.
Robin Seitz – PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. – Topeka, KS (Mid West Champ)
La Bella Vita, a blend featuring three coffees and four roasts. Two different roast levels of red Bourbon from Brazil, chocolate foundation and darker roast for complexity. Sumatran Lake Tawar for the spicy finish. Ethiopian naturally processed Sidamo for sweetness, juicy fruits.
In his cappuccinos, Seitz told the judgs to look for chocolatey notes, caramel and possibly praline.
Con panna to capture the flavors of the espresso. Whip cream at the bottom of each glass. Glasses rimmed with Cara Cara orange, cinnamon and sugar to mimic sweet up front flavors. Chocolate depth. Chile powder for Tawar finish. After adding the espresso, the cream dissolves. Stir to fully integrate the cream, then sip and enjoy.
Ryan Willbur – Intelligentsia Coffee – Los Angeles, CA
Finca La Maravilla from Huehuetenango in Guatemala. The Meyer lemon note is a result of citrus grown in the area. The coffee is grown and washed between 1500-1800 meters, leading to sweetness. You’ll also find a coffee flower or jasmine finish.
In his cappuccinos, Willbur told the judges to expect toasted coconut, for the citrus to become caramel, plus hazelnut.
Willbur added butter to a pan for balance, cut off some fresh ginger, then poured in Muscovado sugar for molasses-like characteristics and lighter bodied Demerrera sugar.
He touched the rim of each glass with Meyer lemon so judges could get the citrus aromas without affecting the flavor balance of the drink. Smell, swirl and sip to get the jasmine finish.
Mike Marquard – Kaldi’s Coffeehouse – St. Louis, MO
Marquard is interested in how coffee forms the basis of so many relationships, including first date and business meeting.
He used a blend of Sumatran, Brazilian and Salvadoran Cerro Las Ranas beans. The espresso had a honey nut sweetness, with berry notes and a nut finish.
In a cappuccino, milk brought out a honey note with citrus up front.
Marquard created a caramel sauce using brown sugar, sea salt and a double shot of espresso instead of water. He added four shots of espresso to the bubbling pitcher, stirred and poured into each glass. Then he added honey pipe tobacco to each judge’s plate to create a bridge to the coffee. He lit the tobacco and covered each burning thatch (and signature drink) with a dome, then had the judges pull the dome to take in the aroma before drinking.
Scott Lucey – Alterra Coffee – Milwaukee, WI (Great Lakes Champ)
Lucey went with a single-estate coffee from Nelson Melo, who owns a Colombian farm called Finca La Acacias. 1900 meter elevation creates a sweet, juicy coffee. It’s 100% Koture varietal and a washed process, leading to clean flavors. The coffee is dried on Kenyan beds. He presented dishes of light roasted coffee. Lucey’s notes include lime, grapefruit, fig and ginger, but he wanted to highlight the grapefruit, so he presented a bowl of Texas Red, the biggest, sweetest grapefruit possible.
When describing his cappuccinos, he mentioned sweet vanilla with a bit of orange.
Liquid Swords starts out with espresso and some hot water, similar to an Americano. The hot water maintains the flavor of the espresso and overall aromatics of the drink. He poured his espresso shots, topped it with central layer of heavy cream, which prevents any juice from seeping down the sides, then poured on fresh-squeezed Texas Red grapefruit juice,
Sara Peterson – The Abbey – Santa Cruz, CA
An Ethiopian Yirgacheffe produced at Worka mill and imported by Wondo trading company. Her beans were processed two different ways, including a washed process for floral notes and a natural process for wild fruit, tart cherry and bittersweet chocolate.
She prepared an ingredient platter for the judges featuring chocolate, cherry, lavender, rose and coffee grounds.
When combined with milk, the Worka cappuccino is sweet and balanced. Drink through the velvet and get right into the milk to find chocolate and cherry notes. You’re left with lingering floral “flower mouth.”
She took the chocolate and cherry notes from the natural Worka, lavender and rose from the washed Worka. 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. She instructed the judges to eat whipped cream off the spoon and dip the spoon in the cherry reduction. She pulled her shots of espresso and poured the espresso on top, instructed the judges to swirl, take in the aroma and sip.
Alex Pond – The Fresh Pot – Portland, OR (North West Champ)
The Stumptown comes from the Carmen Estate, including Koture and Tipica varietals. Stumptown roasted his beans on three different days, as old as 10 days. The fresher beans provided pink grapefruit and lemon notes. The older beans provided caramel and chocolate.
He began his presentation by infusing milk with saffron and Tanzanian salt, which went into the “Continental.” During the roasting process, caramel notes emerged during first crack, which is why he utilized caramel. The floral notes dictated saffron. Since “salt is a natural flavor enhancer,” Pond used salt. Finally, he shaved 100% cacao onto the frothy beverage.
Amber Sather– AMS – Brooklyn, NY (North East Champ)
Sather’s blend involved a naturally processed Brazil and a Mexican coffee processed using pulp natural featuring a juicy blueberry finish.
In a cappuccino, her coffee’s dark chocolate notes became milk chocolate.
Sather created a two-part signature beverage, the first part using espresso, cold cream and dehydrated blueberry powder. The second part arrived on a spoon, utilizing blueberry preserve, chocolate and dry ice to highlight the blueberry and refresh the palate. She instructed judges to push down the spoon to combine elements, then bite the cool berry ice.
Jason Silberschlag – Cartel Coffee Lab – Tempe, AZ (South West Champ)
He selected an Ethiopian Sidamo and Guatemalan Huehuetenango blend. Dried apricot notes, with a leathery finish and a little bit of sweet cherry on the end as well.
He blended two kinds of milk: 75% Norris Dairy sweet whole milk and 25% raw goat’s milk from Fern’s Edge Dairy. Both dairies are from Oregon.
The creamy milk with the espresso creates “peaches and cream,” walnut and raisin.
Spro Cones: Silberschlag pulled four shots of espresso, chilled them in an ice bath. He sprayed the espresso on a frozen surface to create espresso “snow,” then layered it with saffron syrup.
Renee Teichen – Ritual Coffee Roasters – San Francisco, CA
Role model Maria Millaños grows coffee in Via Maria, Colombia. Her family farm, Finca Mariana, has been a model of sustainability. She’s made efforts to show other coffee producers techniques in sustainability, including recycling, composting and water treatment. Teichen described notes of rosemary, cherry and Clementine. Vacuum packing at origin led to berry notes. In the cup, chocolate and dark brown sugar. In the finish, crisp citrus acidity and cherry brightness, which could either be because of the fact that Maria only selects the brightest cherries, or due to the altitude.
When combined with milk, the dark chocolate and brown sugar notes turn into caramel-y milk chocolate.
A two-part experience. Teichen provided each judge with an aromatic sample plate holding ground Nariño, a sprig of rosemary and Clementine peel. For the drink itself, the first layer is a ganache made from cream, a pinch of Clementine zest and 55% dark chocolate from San Francisco. To this, she added four shots of espresso, one for each judge. The topping, a lightly whipped cream infused with Nariño. She chose the chocolate for its depth and acidity. The ganache layer strengthens the coffee’s fudge flavors. The creamy layer rounds out the drink’s flavor and sweetness.
Brett Walker – Zoka Coffee Roasters – Seattle, WA
A washed process Koture from the Huila region of Colombia with deep citrus notes, a very clean washed body with a slightly spicy finish.
With his espresso, he instructed the judges to slurp to accentuate the deep citrus notes. You’ll find sugary grapefruit, Satsuma orange and that clean, slightly dusty finish.
Add milk and the coffee’s bright citrus notes start to smooth out and you find notes like almond.
He created an apricot reduction to highlight the coffee’s citrus and used crushed black pepper to bring out the zesty, spicy notes at the finish. He also used brown sugar to heighten that element of the coffee.
Chris Weber – PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. – Topeka, KS
Weber and head roaster Adam Ross worked on PT’s La Bella Vita blend. It’s a three-bean blend: a Brazil red Bourbon varietal called Ipanema Dolce with dense chocolate notes, orange and a slight hint of grapefruit; Lake Tawar in Sumatra for spice; and Ethiopian Sidamo natural organic sun-dried coffee with citrus notes. Today, Weber’s tasting candied fruit in the blend, including tangerine, apricot and “slight amounts of blue fruit.”
His fruit forward cappuccinos include spiced red wine at the bottom of the cup.
He created a cold pre-infused milk and used a French press to intensify the flavors of sweet mint, spearmint, orange, lemon and star anise. He poured his honey-infused espresso from a gravy boat and added the cold cream.
Kristina Merryman – Lava Java – Ridgefield, WA
Merryman used a blend of Guatemalan Finca El Injerto and Honduran Finca La Puente for chocolate notes, then added Sumatran and a light finish from Ethiopian Kochere.
The idea was to highlight the chocolate and sweet orange from the El Injerto and the light citrus from the Kochere. Merryman added a pinch of sugar to each shot, a half teaspoon of shaved chocolate and a quarter-ounce of hot water to encourage melting.
Nick Griffith – Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea – Los Angeles, CA (Western Champ)
Today, Griffith wants to talk about sweetness. With that in mind, he selected a Guatemalan coffee from Huehuetenango produced by the Morales family on a farm called Finca La Maravilla. He described citrus and spice aromatics and heavy molasses notes. The coffee grows at 1900 meters. The east facing hillside encourages sugar development in the beans. At origin, they’re diligent to teach pickers to pluck the ripest berries, to produce the sweetest beans possible. Intelligentsia roasts the beans just three minutes past first crack to preserve the coffee’s natural sweetness.
For his two-part drink, Griffith isolated his favorite flavors from the coffee and applied them to different textures. He took cream, a small amount of sugar and organic orange blossom water and whipped it. This takes the sweet and citrus aromatics from the coffee and put them in the glass. He asked judges to take a small sip and take in the aromatics.
He created a puree using Medjool dates and Muscovado sugar, blended it with water, then ran it through a sieve to remove the solids. Then he added the espresso. This is the heavier sugar like note found at the bottom of the espresso. You still get citrus, but there’s a strong molasses note. He asked the judges to add the puree to the cream and drink.
Greg Lefcourt – Ozo Coffee Company – Boulder, CO (Mountain Champ)
Big-Up Blend, combining a natural Ethiopian Beloya for “berry basket” and “sweet lemongrass” notes, a pulp natural Brazilian Nossa Senocha for body, chocolate and almond notes, a natural Brazilian Adado and a washed Ecuador Espindola for sweet honey finish.
To bring out each flavor of the espresso, he mixed almond vanilla cream with lavender honey, poured it on each shot of espresso and shaved fresh Ceylon cinnamon on top to bring out the flavor of the Beloya.
Michael Phillips – Intelligentsia Coffee – Chicago, IL
A Bolivian coffee combining three varietals: Koture, Tipica and Bourbon. He went with a shorter extraction time to increase juiciness and acidity. In his espresso, he told judges to expect acidity, green grape and sweetness at the base of the shot.
For his cappuccinos, Phillips increased dosage from 17 to 18 grams, allowing fig to present itself in the froth. Acidity gives way to sweetness.
Phillips began by steeped brown sugar, diced almonds, dark chocolate and sea salt in heavy cream. He decided to split his shots in half, serving the espresso hot, then cold. At the beginning of extraction, espresso has darker color, and at the end, it has lighter color and more crema.
For the base of his hot drink, Phillips had almonds, dark chocolate, salt and brown sugar. For the cold drink: fresh pressed blackberries, and a little simple syrup. He served them in a pair, asking judges to sip hot, then cold. He said, “Each one of these drinks has intriguing elements that stand up on their own.”
Devin Pedde – Intelligentsia Coffee – Los Angeles, CA
Pedde chose a washed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, primarily grown at 1900 meters. It’s a co-op coffee, a blend of 15 unclassified varietals. The coffee was “expertly roasted” by Pedde’s friend Jared Linzmeier to mute citrus notes and push the fruit notes forward.
In his cappuccinos, the fruit notes come from the coffee in the milk. He also gets an “amazing jammy texture” reminiscent of strawberry jam.
Before his performance, Pedde placed dishes of ingredients that matched the flavors he’s been tasting in his coffee, including cherries, plums, Earl Grey tea, blueberries, persimmons, brown sugar and cherries. All the fruits were dried. Pedde poured himself a shot of espresso to see which direction he’d take his performance. To exaggerate the flavors of the coffee, Pedde selected ingredients to place in a Belgian brewer to create an infusion: brown sugar and strawberry for sweetness, persimmon and Earl Grey tea for acidity and cherries for tannins. He poured the infusion into espresso shots and asked the judges to take in aromatics before sipping.
Chris DeMarse – Alliance World Coffees – Muncie, IN
DeMarse combined an 85% naturally washed Ethiopia Siadamo and 15% Brazilian Fezendo Cachoeira naturally processed yellow Bourbon.
In a shot of espresso, you’ll find a spicy anise and blueberry flavor, with an anise aftertaste.
For his cappuccinos, DeMarse selected an organic milk with buttery sweetness. The natural processing provides sweet buttery tone in the base of the coffee that matches well with the milk. There’s spicy clove up front, with anise, raisin, and a sweet buttery toffee.
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. As he said on Thursday, “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 base with the foam top before enjoying.
Clancy Rose – Cuvee Coffee Roasting Company – Spicewood, TX (South Central Champ)
A fully washed coffee from the west valley of Costa Rica called Helsar de Cacaero. The varietal: Villa Las Archo. As Rose said on Thursday’s PDX coffeehouse bike tour, “It’s a pretty unique coffee, a very bright coffee and acidic. It’s got some plumy dark fruits in it, a little bit of spice, like black pepper, and in the back, it’s like macadamia nut and black tea.” This is a fully washed coffee, where you’ll get citrus acidity up front, then blood orange and black pepper.
Rose added pasteurized egg whites, cream of tartar and a squeeze of one lime into a bowl, then added white sugar. Next, he added dark brown sugar and placed it in the bottom of each glass, followed by egg white foam. Before adding the espresso, “It looks and smells like a margarita.” Rose added espresso shots and rimmed each glass to remind himself of the crust on his mom’s Key lime pie.
Micah Svejda – Kaldi’s Coffeehouse – St. Louis, MO
A three-bean blend. Sumatra Aceh that lends earthiness and leather; El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas (pulp natural) for stonefruit notes; and Brazil natural yellow Bourbon Cachoeira de Gama for toasted nut sweetness. The blend has creamy body and a slight tart finish.
He presented chilled spoons with Vermont crème fraiche and Missouri honey and dropped on 18-year-old balsamic. He instructed the judges to eat the contents of the spoon and drink their shot of espresso.
Colin Whitcomb – Alterra Coffee – Milwaukee, WI
The coffee is grown on a Colombian estate at just over 6000 feet elevation. It’s a washed coffee, dried on Kenyan beds with “popping citrus aromas, especially lime.” The citrusy coffee combines with milk to create a “creamsicle” effect.
Whitcomb created a two part beverage: a blood orange ade, sugar and water to mute the sweetness. He also added lime and rose water to mimic the coffee’s flower notes. The second part was a shot of espresso con panna, with heavy whipping cream on top of the shot. Whitcomb instructed the judges to drink the juice, smell a piece of ginger and drink the espresso con panna.
Danielle Glasky – Octane Coffee – Atlanta, GA (South East Champ)
Glasky chose a single-origin coffee from a central province of Kenya. She said the coffee tasted like white grape juice. The darker roast balances the acidity and pushes forward the cherry sweetness. Growing the coffee at 1600-meter altitude pushes forward sparkling acidity and savory aspects.
She’s developed a relationship with dairy farmer Kelvin Sparkman, who owns a farm four out of south of Atlanta. For that reason, she used his milk, which combines with the Kenyan coffee to create notes of cherry and mulled spice.
Four juices that enhance the two roasts: honeydew for sweetness, tangerine for citrus, sweet cherry and sweet cherry tomato notes to push forward sweet cherry tomato notes. She served a shot with each juice to highlight the coffee’s differences. She asked judges to take a sip of each espresso-inclusive juice. Finally, she added fresh shots of espresso.
25 baristas battled today for 6 slots in Sunday’s final round of the 2009 Regional Barista Championship. Here’s the list of competitors still in the running for the American coffee crown:
1. Scott Lucey – Alterra Coffee – Milwaukee, WI (Great Lakes Champ)
2. Mike Marquard – Kaldi’s Coffeehouse – St. Louis, MO
3. Nick Griffith – Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea – Los Angeles, CA (Western Champ)
4. Ryan Willbur – Intelligentsia Coffee – Los Angeles, CA
5. Devin Pedde – Intelligentsia Coffee – Los Angeles, CA
6. Michael Phillips – Intelligentsia Coffee – Chicago, IL