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Who are the US Barista Champions for 2022 and what did they have to do to become champions?
The U.S. Coffee Championships (USCC) was conducted, from 8 to 10 April 2022, during the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston US.
The coffee championships included the U.S. Barista Championship, U.S. Brewers Cup, U.S. Roaster Championship, U.S. Latte Art Championship, U.S. Coffee in Good Spirits, and the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship.
This competition is a great learning experience for the coffee enthusiasts, wannabe baristas, experienced baristas who want to learn from the best, and just interested people like me!
All of the competitors brought their best and the competition saw some stellar presentations.
Goodcoffeeplace compliments all the competitors on their efforts and congratulations to all the winners!
In this post, we will only cover the U.S. Barista Championships (USBC).
Details of the championships including rules and regulations can be found here.
A Lottery to Enter
Anyone can enter the USBC Barista Championships but the maximum number of entrants allowed for 2022 was only 24!
Consequently, the entrants for the U.S. Barista Competitors were determined on a weighted Lottery System.
I’m not sure what a weighted lottery system is or how it was conducted. I couldn’t find any other explanation of how this worked in the rules and regulations. In any event, it seems that the champion competitors are very experienced and very enthusiastic.
I would hope that the weighting is based on being coffee professionals with experience and qualifications.
You can find out more about the competitors by seeing their competitor bios.
All entrants were required to be over 18 years old and to hold “a valid U.S. Passport, U.S. Green Card, or have 24 months of documented employment or scholastic curriculum in the United States of America.”
The Barista Champions
The six top barista champions for this year’s Specialty Coffee competition were…
- Morgan Eckroth from Keeper Coffee in Portland, OR
- Brooke Wolfe from Elixr Coffee Roasters in Nashville, TN
- Elisabeth Johnson from Dayglow in Los Angeles, CA
- Meg Skop entered as an independent competitor from San Francisco, CA
- Bryan Overstreet from The Coffee Movement in San Francisco, CA
- David Buehrer from Greenway Coffee Company in Houston, TX
All competitors did well to get into the competition and finish in the top six!
Congratulations Morgan Eckroth for being the U.S. Barista Champion for 2022! Well done!
What Did the Barista Champions Need to Do?
According to the USBC rules and regulations, “the USBC is divided into 3 rounds: Round One, Semi-Finals, and Finals. Competitors are required to participate in an Audience
The competitors are evaluated by 3 types of judges: sensory, technical, and head. The judging panel consisted of 4 sensory judges, 2 technical judges, and 1 head judge.
A competitor serves 1 beverage from each of the 3 drink categories (espresso, milk beverage, and signature beverage) to each of the sensory judges, for a total of 12 drinks during a period of 15 minutes.
The definition of espresso is “…a 1 fl. oz. beverage (30mL +/- 5mL) made from ground coffee, poured from 1 side of a double portafilter in 1 continuous extraction.”
The definition of a ‘milk beverage’ is “…a combination of 1 single shot of espresso (per the definition of espresso in 5.1.1) and steamed cow’s milk, which should produce a harmonious balance of rich, sweet milk and espresso, and is less than 240 ml in volume. Milk beverages may be served with latte art or with a central circle of white milk. Latte art expression may take any pattern the competitor chooses.”
The definition of a ‘signature beverage’ is “…a beverage [that] demonstrates a competitor’s creativity and skill to create an appealing and individual espresso-focused beverage. The signature beverage should be a liquid beverage; the judges must be able to drink it. Food may accompany the beverage, but
only the beverage item will be evaluated and scored. Each of the 4 signature beverages must contain a minimum of 1 espresso shot…”
As you can see the barista championship is only based on making espresso and no other brewing technique.
The competitor decides the order in which the drink categories are served; however, any category of drinks must be completed (e.g. all single espressos are served) before a competitor may serve another category of drinks, otherwise, they will be disqualified.
Preparation and service of signature beverage elements are allowed at any time during the competition time.
Within each category (espresso, milk beverage, and signature drink), drinks may be served in any combination to judges (e.g. 1 at a time, 2 at a time, all at once). Sensory judges will begin evaluating each drink as soon as it is served unless otherwise instructed by the competitor.
All 4 drinks within each category must be prepared using the same coffee; however, the coffee used may change between categories. The 4 drinks of each category must contain the same ingredients and follow the same recipe as each other. Deliberately preparing and serving varied drinks within a category will result in a score of 0 in Taste Balance for the drink that deviated in the recipe from the beverage that is served first.
Competitors may produce as many drinks as they choose during the competition; however, only drinks served to the sensory judges will be evaluated.
Head judges cannot be served. Nothing consumable (e.g., water, beverages, etc.) should be served or provided for the head judge” (poor judges missing out on a great cup of coffee!).
The equipment used in the barista competition is standardized. The competitors can bring their own equipment but it must be the same type as that recommended by the SPA for the USCC and USBC.
Competitors may only use the espresso machine supplied for USBC by the official espresso machine sponsor. No other espresso machines may be used on stage.
The competition espresso machine has a “fixed technical configuration and cannot be altered by the competitors. The espresso machine is calibrated to have a temperature between 90.5-96 degrees Celsius (195-205 degrees Fahrenheit), and a pump pressure between 8.5 and 9.5 bar.”
The timer on the espresso machine is disabled to test the skill of the barista.
According to the rules and regulations the competitors “…must only use 1-2 of the specified grinder models from the official USBC Grinder Sponsor, Mahlkonig, to prepare the espresso for each course in their competition routine.
The USBC sponsored grinders are the Mahlkonig Peak, Mahlkonig E65S, and the Mahlkonig EK43s.
The grinders have a fixed technical configuration and cannot be opened or subjected to any functional modifications by the competitions (e.g., aftermarket hoppers, modified burrs, Turkish burrs, temperature probe, etc.) The competition grinders are calibrated to the same specifications for each competitor.”
Mahlkonig grinders are excellent but also very expensive. The Mahlkonig E65S retails for about $2300 and the Mahlkonig EK43S retails for about $3150. These grinders may be appropriate if you are a coffee connoisseur, a restauranteur, or a professional barista but you can get a great Mahlkonig grinder for the home for much less.
The Mahlkonig x54 home grinder is a versatile home grinder so that you can experience expertly ground coffee at home. The x54 grinder enables optimal grinding that meets even the highest demands.
This grinder is suitable for many coffee brewing methods from your aromatic espresso in the morning to your pour-over or French press in the afternoon.
The Mahlkönig X54 versatile home grinder is a great choice for every home barista.
Surprisingly, perhaps, not everything is provided for competitors at the competition. Competitors are required to bring all additional necessary supplies for their presentation.
The recommended supplies the competitor may bring include…
- Coffee (for both practice and competition)
- Additional electrical equipment (maximum 2 items)
- Shot glasses
- Steaming pitchers
- Cow’s milk
- Cups and saucers as needed
- Any specific utensils required
- All equipment/accessories required for the Signature Beverage
- Water glasses (for 4 sensory judges)
- Water (for 4 sensory judges)
- Bar towels/clean cloths (for both practice and competition)
- Cleaning supplies (counter brush, grinder brush, etc.)
- Tray(s) (for serving drinks to the judges)
- All accessories for the judges’ presentation table
- Waiter’s cart (option to use USBC-provided cart)
- Scales (input/dosing & output/drip tray)
- Polishing cloths
- Gloves to wear while polishing dishes
The list is extensive and this adds to the cost and logistics of participating in the competition.
The competitor really needs to be well organized to even consider taking part in the competition.
What Does it Take to Be a Barista Champion?
The judges are looking for baristas who:
- Have a mastery of technical skills, craftspersonship, communication skills, and service skills and are passionate about the
- barista profession
- Have a broad understanding of coffee knowledge beyond the drinks being served in the competition
- Prepare and serve high-quality beverages; and
- May serve as role models and a source of inspiration for others
If you are wondering what it takes to be a barista champion then you may be able to get some tips by watching Morgan Eckroth, the current US Barista Champion, do her thing in this YouTube video…
Morgan is a well-known YouTuber with her own coffee channel and has well over 600 thousand subscribers. Her win at the USBC is likely to increase her subscriptions and views on YouTube. Morgan deserves the kudos! Well done Morgan!
Obviously, Morgan is very professional and experienced. Did you glean any takeaway tips from her presentation?
Sponsors of the USCC and USBC
The USCC has numerous sponsors including Nuova Simonelli, Ally Coffee, GH Grinding & Brewing Solutions, Baratza, Pentair, Rattleware, and Urnex Brands.
The barista competition was specifically sponsored by Pacific Foods.
We received permission from the Specialty Coffee Association to reproduce some of their content provided that we cite and acknowledge all sources and list all sponsors.
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