Interview: 2009 USBC Competitor Sara Peterson (The Abbey)

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Barista Santa Cruz

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 Sara Peterson from The Abbey coffeeart & music lounge in Santa Cruz, California, the 2009 Western Regional Barista Competition Finalist.

1. Did anything surprise you about your regional competition?
Competition is new to me, so there were plenty of surprises! I really appreciated getting to know people, and feeling a part of things even though we were the new kids. I also thought it was great how the judges were supportive and really available to offer feedback. I also received eyelash growing gel in my competitors gift bag, so that was a surprise, but a delightful one!

2. Will adjust your approach for the United States Barista Championship? If so, how?
Yes, I will be changing things up a bit. I like to keep things fresh, so there will be some changes. I am really trying to take the judges feedback to heart, and hope to improve.

3. What is your goal at the USBC?
To have fun, to meet new friends, and to improve my score. I want to represent the Abbey well, as well as verve and the bay area coffee scene.

4. What did you learn by competing at your regional?
I learned how to work a busy bar shift without leaving any fingerprints or drips! I feel like I have really improved my espresso “dialing in” skills, and am a better judge of deciding what I need to adjust to get the results I am hoping for in the cup. I also feel more confident and feel better equipped to train my staff. I am more aware of my movements and efficiency. And it has been a reminder of the important role of communicating as a barista and telling the story of the coffee.

5. What’s your training schedule like until the USBC?
Pretty much after hours on bar, as well as having every waking thought consumed by some element of coffee life and competition time. I’m also trying to train my brain to go over my routine in my sleep!

6. What’s a coffeehouse you didn’t know about before your regional competition that you now plan to visit?
I had heard about LAMILL but had never been. I almost had a stroke when I saw their private back room, BEAUTIFUL! I would like to live there! I can’t wait to check out all the cafes in Portland

7. What’s your approach in choosing the music that plays during your performance?
I give a few broad descriptors of what I would like and then I let the music lovers on my staff make it happen :o)


Joshua Lurie

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

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