Barista competition season is once again going full-blast, and Southern California is currently the epicenter. This past weekend, Hollywood’s Siren Studios hosted the Western Regional Barista Competition, with 30 top baristas from California, Alaska and Hawaii vying for a coveted slot in the 2010 United States Barista Championship, which will be held in Anaheim from April 15-18. Several hundred people filled Siren Studios for Sunday’s finals, which featured three competitors from Verve Coffee Roasters, two competitors from Intelligentsia and Pete Licata, an outlier from Hawaii.
Audience members were not only treated to complimentary pour-over coffee and espresso drinks, they were also treated to what may have been the strongest WRBC field yet. Every WRBC finalist previously competed in a regional final; and Baca and Licata previously won regional crowns.
Heather Perry and Kyle Glanville, both former United States Barista Champions, were the event’s MCs. They provided a steady flow of banter and insights in between performances.
To learn more about how barista competitions work, and scoring, CLICK HERE.
Sara Peterson – Verve Coffee Roasters – Santa Cruz, CA
For her signature beverage, Peterson utilized lavender soda to accentuate the coffee’s “sparkling finish,” She also used fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice, lemon-infused whipped cream “with a smidgen of vanilla,” and melted milk chocolate infused with pistachio “to bring out sweetness and pleasant nuttiness.”
Devin Pedde – Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea – Los Angeles, CA
Pedde, who took second at the 2009 WRBC, went with a 100% bourbon coffee from Colombia’s Finca Santuario. He described the coffee as having “tons of fruit, tons of sweetness,” with “grilled peaches” up front, an “orange creamsicle” body and a finish touting clover honey and ginger. Midway through his performance, he had judges flip cards, revealing maps of Camilo Merizalde’s Colombian coffee farm, so they knew just where the beans came from.
For his signature drink, Pedde played on one of his favorite cocktails, the Sazerac. The first cocktail ever produced typically includes rye, bitters and absinthe. Since anything goes with signature beverages but alcohol, Pedde substituted “fennel pollen as an herbal infusion” for absinthe. He also went with fresh squeezed blood orange juice and raisin and brown sugar for viscosity. The “citrus forward drink” also featured a drop of glycerin based lemon bitters. He instructed judges to sip the fennel tea, stir the signature drink and take a sip.
Jared Truby – Verve Coffee Roasters – Santa Cruz, CA
Truby was a WRBC finalist in 2009 and the second of three competitors from Verve. He went with beans from San José Ocaña in Guatemala, a farm that took #2 at the 2007 Cup of Excellence competition, run by Carlos Roberto Sanchez Lazo. Truby described mango acidity, almonds and a lingering nougat finish.
Truby said the signature beverage gives him an “opportunity to express my personality in a coffee I love.” He predicted the mango juice “accents sweetness and acidity.” He also incorporated egg yolks, sugar and heavy cream infused with almonds for 24 hours.