U.S. Coffee Championships 2015

This past weekend I attended the final day of the 2015 U.S. Coffee Championships held in Long Beach, California. For someone who is a complete neophyte to the world of specialty coffees, it was a feast for the senses and an amazing first look into the complex culture of coffee service.

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Main room for the judging arena, demo booths, and Barista Guild of America’s cafe area.

The event was held from February 19 – 22 and featured several different competitions: best barista, manual brewer, latte art, roaster, and cup taster. Participants compete in regional competitions before advancing to the semifinals which were held on the final day of the event.

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Roasters’ area and sampling tables.
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Intelligentsia Coffee’s Kilogram Tea
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Different types of coffees from roasters across the country.

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This station made drip brew samples of different types of coffee from roasters across the country. On the right is the Curtis Seraphim front bar batch brewer, which is currently in beta and should be available for sale later this year.

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Here is some coffee-inspired art by Mike Lanni:

Then there were the actual competitions.  In the middle of the room was an arena where the baristas could perform in front of the judges. The whole competition weekend was live-streamed and the baristas were interviewed before and after each event.

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One of the competition brewing machines used by participants in the elimination rounds.
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Intense moment. 4 judges, photographers, and videographers capturing every move. This is Michael Harwood of Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Annapolis, MD competing in the Barista finals.
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Sarah Anderson of Intelligentsia Coffee competing in the Brewer’s Cup finals.
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Sam Schroeder of Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, Olympia, WA being interviewed before his final competing round.

While the competition rounds carried on, the Barista Guild of America ran a complimentary cafe in the middle of the exhibit. Participants and enthusiasts lined up for coffees made by certified baristas from roasters all over the country.

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Folks from Blueprint Coffee from St. Louis, MO at the bar

Here are the coffees I sampled from the BGA Cafe:

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L to R: cappuccino by Equator Coffee, macchiato by Blueprint Coffee, a sample of Finca Takesi Geisha coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee, and another cappuccino from Espresso Republic.

I don’t typically drink this much coffee, let alone really go for the more concentrated espresso-based beverages, so this was a real treat. I enjoyed my Equator cap the most, followed by the Blueprint macchiato. I’m still learning about coffee so I don’t know how to describe it but the taste was great and the way the milk was prepared was fun to drink (foamy, thick.)

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Great way to end the weekend.

I definitely enjoyed myself and I can’t wait until the 2016 U.S. Coffee Championships. I hope it will be hosted in Southern California again; I would make the trip out for the whole event just to sample coffee 🙂

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