Scenes from the USCC Preliminaries—Rancho Cucamonga

T. Ben Fischer of Elixr Coffee wins the barista competition; Blair Smith of Augie’s Coffee takes home a win in the Brewers Cup; and other highlights from the very first USCC preliminary competition.


Photos courtesy of Klatch Coffee unless otherwise noted.

Competition season began in full force this weekend, and we captured some of the most memorable moments of the very first USCC CoffeeChamps Preliminary Competition, held August 25-27 and hosted by Klatch Coffee in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. This competition was the first of eight regional competitions happening all across the United States over the next five weeks (including a competition in Seattle that happened this weekend!) The top eight finishers in the barista competitions and the top four in Brewers Cup will all win an automatic spot in the USCC Qualifying Event to happen later this year. Scroll to the bottom for the complete list of competitors who will move on to the qualifying competition.

Judges during calibration. Klatch Coffee hosted the first round of both the barista and Brewers Cup competitions. The top eight finishers of the barista competition and the top four brewers get automatic spots in the USCC Qualifying Competition, which has yet to be announced.


Blair Smith of Augie’s Coffee took first place in the Brewers Cup competition.


Blair’s tasting notes for the judges.


T. Ben Fischer of Elixr Coffee just before his routine. Baristas were given coffee from Klatch to dial in and serve the judges.


The event wasn’t without some fun and games. Klatch hosted a barbecue with games, including cornhole and a life-size Jenga set—pictured above with barista winner T. Ben Fischer.


The top eight finishers of the barista competition. Clockwise from top left: Kay Cheon, Matthew Barahura, T. Ben Fischer, Suzy Lippmann, Jen McElroy, Hana Kaneshigo, Naida Lindberg, Alexandra Mireles.


1. T. Ben Fischer – Elixr Coffee Roasters
2. Matthew Barahura – Intelligentsia Coffee
3. Naida Lindberg – Verve Coffee Roasters
4. Kay Cheon – The French Press
5. Suzy Lippmann – Augie’s Coffee
6. Jen McElroy – Klatch Coffee
7. Hana Kaneshigo – Verve Coffee Roasters
8. Alexandra Mireles – Klatch Coffee
Brewers Cup:
1. Blair Smith – Augie’s Coffee
2. Andy Tan – Equator Coffees & Teas
3. Nick Rivera – Portola Coffee Roasters
4. Ben Silkes – Elixr Coffee Roasters
While baristas and brewers were battling it out in California, Seattle also hosted a barista competition. Tune in tomorrow for a recap of the highlights and a list of winners from the Seattle baristas competition, hosted by Synesso.
About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at