Interview: 2009 USBC Competitor Claire Ghormley (Mon Ami Café)

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Barista Portland

From March 5-8, the Oregon Convention Center in Portland is hosting the 2009 United States Barista Championship. Leading up to the USBC, I’m showcasing baristas who decided to compete for the American coffee crown. Meet Claire Ghormley from Mon Ami Café in Vancouver, Washington.

1. Did anything surprise you about your regional competition?
I was surprised at how well I did. When I got my score card back I thought I had done horribly, but when I looked at the placements and saw that I was only off of the winner by 150 or so points it was really cool. Placing 14th for my first competition is amazing and I’m so excited to take the experience onto the nationals.

2. Will adjust your approach for the United States Barista Championship? If so, how?
I am changing my signature drink and paying closer attention to detail. That’s what I got marked down the most for.

3. What is your goal at the USBC?
I really want to network with other shops, meet new baristas, learn more, because you can never stop learning in any field, especially coffee. Also, I just want to have fun, I have been practicing for so long and really putting so much effort into it, that I want to enjoy every minute up there. If I place in the top twenty that wouldn’t be so bad either 🙂

4. What did you learn by competing at your regional?
Attention to detail! I can’t believe how much I overlooked because I was so caught up in the moment and having fun. It was my first competition and I look forward to others, and learning even more. Talk to me after the nationals and I will most likely be saying the same thing!

5. What’s your training schedule like until the USBC?
Practice at the Stumptown training room every Thursday, working with Jen the trainer, Putting in extra hours after my shifts, cupping alot of coffee and trying to develop my palate more, about ten-fifteen hours depending on the week devoted to my routine trying to pound it into my every thought. As the owner of my shop, I work fifty+ hours a week on top of that so it is pretty exhasting.

6. What’s a coffeehouse you didn’t know about before your regional competition that you now plan to visit?
Blend and Little Red Bike here in Portland. I got to meet January and Ray and try out Courier Coffee, which is really amazing. I found a bunch of other places to visit in Seattle and Tacoma as well.

7. What’s your approach in choosing the music that plays during your performance?
I try to time out the songs so that when one is finishing, I know to move on to doing my cappuccinos or signature drink. I like a wide variety of music and that will definitely come through during my performance. Everything from Bloc Party to Lupe Fiasco.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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