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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are the coffees I sampled from the BGA Cafe:
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.)
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 🙂