coffee.: USBC 2018. The Barista Who Brings a Trophy to Home Plate Among Beloved Out-Of-Towners.

here comes our daily barista


coffee x milk.

Coffees from Colombia, Ecuador and Ethiopia took space in the hands of six competing baristas from around the nation of the United States in Seattle, Washington for the 2018 United States Barista Competition. These competitors showed up and showed out through craft, device, story, technique and words. Their commitment to the craft of science applied to coffee was full of heart tugging emotion, the kind that lingers with us when a separation of any kind must occur between one and a beloved. What follows is a roundup of their memorable quotes, notes of character, points of interest and their musical set list.

A barista shows up to the coffee table with his coffee as the main subject. However, ever  main subject has adjectives and verbs to help its completion along. Here’s how our finalists played it.

As much as a barista as an on stage scientist, using carbon paper filters to extract sediment from his coffee including his espresso champagne with yuzu zest there was, our Champ (Cole); a feline touched with coffee sipped with cat spoons by (Fischer), milk that was freeze distilled, fancy for frozen and concentrated by  (Cheon), roses in a vintage Pepsi bottle preceding a cherry Pepsi signature beverage  by (Castillo), whiskey rocks and water – mineral, distilled and creek  – were a double threat times a triple sourced by (Allen) and the historic Sidra, a dual varietal first grown in Ecuador for (Neely).

Proving with language that coffee can taste as wild as our palate can perceive it, the story notes characterized coffee in such a way the culture will remember as a sensory feeling, a concrete association they could find in their everyday lives.

Some notes of character from our six finalist baristas were the two-coffee milk course – a coffee from Burundi with brandy and mixed berries notes and an Ethiopian heirloom variety yielding blueberry and milk chocolate – (Cole); buttery caramel, banana ice cream and malted chocolate (Fischer), black tea and butterscotch (Cheon), yellow plum, buttery shortbread, shaved almonds (Castillo), buttery, raw dark honey, almond milk and hot cocoa note (Allen) and cream soda and candied orange peel (Neely).  

Now, here’s how they played it.

Cole McBride

coffee: natural, La Papaya, Colombia

points of interest: 15-year barista career, carbon filter, champagne bubbles, cold ceramics, CO2

“I am a daily barista.”
1. ‘Once In A Lifetime’ Talking Heads
2. ‘Praise You,’ Fat Boy Slim
3. ‘1 Thing,’ Amerie
4. ‘Taylor Swift,’ Shake It Off
T. Ben Fischer, Elixr Coffee
“I am not a picker, or a roaster. I am a barista, your barista.”

Coffee: La Palma y El Tucan. Colombia.

points of interest: his grandmothers mug, rotating strawberries and dry ice.

1. ‘Under The Sea’,’ The Fearless Flyers
2. ‘Back Pocket,’ Mayer Hawthorne
3. ‘Boogie Man,’ KC and The Sunshine Band
4. ‘Friend Like Me,’ Neyo
5.’Morning Light,’ Justin Timberlake

Kay Cheon
Dune Coffee Roasters

coffee: Washed Typica from Juan Peña. Colombia

points of interest: serving ware and pepsi bottles


formation takes place at each step of the coffee supply chain: origin, roaster and with guests.”

1. ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Amber Mark
2. ‘Can’t Stop,’ Lake Street Dive
3. ‘Save Room,’ John Legend
4. ‘When,’ Shania Twain
5. ‘Everywere,’ Fleetwood Mac

David Castillo
Joe Coffee NYC
“We might value coffees that are interesting and unique while are customers like things sweet and balance.”

coffee:  Gesha, Andean Misty



points of interest:

freeze distilling (milk)


1.‘Keep It Healthy’ Warpaint
2.‘Awake,’ Tycho
3. ‘Alt-J,’ Nara

Andrea Allen
Onyx Coffee Lab
” Our sphere of influence is no longer just the cafe.”

coffee: El Obraje.  Nariño Colombia

points of interest: Producer Pablo makes an audio cameo, three waters.

1.‘Gravity’ John Mayer
2.‘More Heart, Less Attack,’ Needtobreathe
3.‘Water Into Wine,’ Hillsong

Sam Neely
Switchback Roast 
“I think coffee is just wonderful.”

coffee: Sidra – Red Bourbon & Typica – Ecuador

point of interest: dried in climate control greenhouse

1. ‘Just Can’t Get Enough,’ Depeche Mode
2. ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,’ Buzzcocks
3. ‘Once in a Lifetime,’ Talking Heads
4. ‘Paragazer,’ Redwood

Introducing the mixtape.