Final Morning of 2015 US Coffee Championships
Earlier this spring, I had the pleasure of attending the final day of this year’s US Coffee Championships, which took place in Long Beach. Having attended on both the first day of the competition, as well as the second day of the competition (although not the third day, which was a Saturday), there was certainly a different vibe. Yes, there were more people there than on Friday – actually, significantly more people – but it was also a different crowd. Many of the competitions were over, so the professionals there were more relaxed and there were also couples there with their young children there. Having taken place at the Long Beach Arena five-and-a-half weeks ago, the US Coffee Championships was a production of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Barista Guild of America.
I started out my visit with stopping by the Baristas Guild of America Café in the center of the arena and got an Eye of the Tiger Espresso from El Salvador, Buenos Aires, which I enjoyed (the tasting notes printed described it as “milk chocolate, lemon effervescence, vivacious fresh strawberries, lively acidity, balanced body”). From there, I then had to check out where all the crowds were.
The primary attention of the day was the US Barista Championships. While the Barista Championships were also the happening event on Friday, Sunday featured the finalists competing, which was of more interest. Also, most of the other competitions were over, as well as there being more people there, generally, at the US Coffee Championships. So, to accommodate the increased audience, they added folding chairs in addition to the bleachers set up.
My favorite aspect of the final day of the 2015 US Coffee Championships, however, was the Roaster’s Choice set-up. While the Roaster’s choice competition was over, it featured the top six vote-getters from Friday’s competition. Instead of brewing up the same beans as each other – as they had on Friday – they were able to bring their own beans and brew them up. Furthermore, the brewers were there to chat about their beans and their process, which was great to have an intimate space to discuss the coffee, both for attendees, as well as for the roasters. Wow – as someone who is used to consuming coffee with artificial sweeteners, this was an impressive array of house blends with each coffee tasting great, but all fairly different, one from the next.
When I returned in the afternoon, after the Roasters Choice finalists’ coffee had been put away, we had noticed that the coffee urns were all ready to be put away, but were flanked by dozens of bags lined up on the counter. So, my drinking compatriot jokingly asked someone behind the counter if these bags were goodie bags; in response, he was told, “Yes.” Both shocked by this happy surprise, we were able to take home all these beans, which were the Peruvian beans featured in the first round of the Roasters Choice competition, and we were even able to take the beans by our favorite roaster! Needless to say, these beans have been excellent to have at home in the weeks subsequent to the US Coffee Championships. Turning them into coffee has been a lovely reminder of the great coffee available at the 2015 US Coffee Championships.