USCC 2016

Specialty coffee has come a long way, and the strives coffee professionals make to elevate the humble cup of coffee to an art form and even fine dining experience is best exemplified and celebrated in competition. Historically, the US Barista Championship started in 2002 with seven local competitions that was simplified to three regional competitions that would produce candidates for the national competition, who would then go on to compete at the world level. Kansas City's own Pete Licata won the world barista champion in 2014, and now runs a coffee consulting firm from an office located inside About the Coffee.

The SCAA's announcement last summer that they were doing away with Regionals to be replaced by a single US COFFEE CHAMPIONSHIPS QUALIFYING EVENT shook the coffee community. Hesitation, buzz, criticism, praise. There was speculation a mile long as to how this would work. With only a hundred spots, 50 competitors from the Western Conference and 50 from the Eastern Conference, sign-ups filled up quickly. Each barista was be limited to ten minutes for two espressos, two milk drinks, and two signatures. They would be judged on creativity, cleanliness, taste, and eloquence. The bar was raised, the clock was ticking, and everybody came out to Kansas City's Convention Center downtown and absolutely killed it. The level of excellence, craftsmanship, and creativity communicated in only ten minutes in front of not only judges and a physical audience, but a live streaming audience was astounding. 

These young coffee professionals demonstrated a dedication to understanding the whole process of the bean, from farmer to farm to harvest to roast to cafe to grind to brew and ultimately to the consumer. In a way, the competition afforded not only a place to prove excellence and creativity, but it was a way to strip away the chic, stylish romance of the cafe, the skinny jeans and Indie music, and take a true look at coffee's capacity in the hands of a professional.

Congratulations to these 12 winners who will be going on to compete in Atlanta in April!

From the Eastern Conference, the six winners are Trevor Corlett from Madcap, Samuel Lewonti from Everyman Espresso, Ashley Elander from Intelligentsia Coffee, Andrew B. McCasli  from Kaldi's, Lemuel Butler from Verity Resins, and Trevor Grueh from Bradbury's Coffee. 

From the Western Conference, the six winners are Cole McBride from PublicUs, Sam Schroeder from Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. , Becky Reeves from Ristretto Roasters, Tyler G. Hill from The Principal's Office, Bethany Hargrove from Barista, and Devin Chapman from La Colombe.

*The United States Barista Competition will be held in Atlanta, Georgia in April 14-17. And the winner of the USBC will go to Dublin, Ireland in June to compete in the World Barista Championship.