Caravan Coffee hosts its third annual Barista Showdown, building community in the Western United States while celebrating craftsmanship in specialty coffee
BY EMILY MCINTYRE
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
On a clear, breezy day in Oregon wine country, baristas, sponsors, roasters, and spectators gathered to celebrate Caravan Coffee’s 3rd annual Barista Showdown, in partnership with the American Barista & Coffee School. Amidst a flurry of nerves, aromatics, and loud support from the crowd, eight baristas from Oregon (and as far away as Wyoming) presented their chosen espressos, cappuccinos, and signature drinks to the judges. At the end of the day, Cole Werfelman of South Store Café in Hillsboro, Oregon, won first place, with Alise Hay of Dapper & Wise in Beaverton taking a close second. All proceeds from the event were donated to the Newberg Area Habitat for Humanity, which is dedicated to providing safe housing to in-need families in the area as well as equipping them with education and training for more sustainable living.
The day started with enthusiastic introductions from Marcus Karaffa of Caravan Coffee who, along with curly hair and a squinty smile, has the flair of a WWE announcer. Nick Walton of newly-rebranded Flag & Wire Coffee in Corvallis acted as technical judge, with Michael McIntyre of Catalyst Coffee Consulting and Paul Allen of Caravan Coffee as sensory judges. Milk was provided by Sunshine Dairy, and a beautiful all-organic lunch from Our Table Cooperative was donated by Kobos Coffee. Attendees circulated through Caravan Coffee’s spacious roasting facility, alternately gaping at the double San Franciscan 25-pound roasters and discussing the merits of local Newberg Bakery’s flaky scones. Yelp PDX acted as official check-in sponsor, and local establishments Owen Roe Winery and Golden Valley Brewing kept spirits on the rise. Other sponsors included Rendered Screen Print & Design, Bellissimo, Lionheart Coffee Company, Alex & Associates, Cornerstone Coffee, Newberg Tire Factory, Chehalem Property Management, Flag & Wire, and Monin.
The top three contenders in the event, Cole Werfelman, Alise Hay, and Sarah Hull, each displayed a unique grasp of their craft. Werfelman, who won second place last year in the competition, is a no-nonsense barista with a ready store of banter. Her signature drink incorporated Thai chili and chocolate into a latte, with a palate-clearing garnish of bacon, chocolate, and fresh thyme. As one of her prizes last year, Werfelman developed her own coffee blend with Caravan Coffee’s roastmaster, Paul Allen, and she competed with it this year. The œEarth Blend was a tri-origin presentation that paired well with milk and stood out as espresso. In the final œMacchiato-Off between the two top competitors, Werfelman’s coffee was the determining factor that won the day.
Alise Hay brought a calm efficiency to the table along with toe-tapping techno-pop music as she discussed the everyday tension between complexity and approachability in coffee. Her presentation, from espresso to signature drink emphasizing the cashew and apricot notes of her chosen Dapper & Wise coffee, displayed technical expertise and delight in her craft.
Paying gentle homage to her Native American roots, Sarah Hull of Café Delirium struck a note of unity in the signature drink. Building on a base of sage and warm vanilla bean, her latte rounded off with notes of lavender in a coconut-sugar syrup that echoed perfectly with the patina of her glassware.
Another noteworthy signature drink was produced by Garrett Ewing of Cornerstone Coffee: a savory Arbequina olive oil latte infused with clarified butter and black peppercorn.
The 2015 Barista Showdown was a success on multiple fronts: raising a solid chunk of change for Habitat for Humanity, it also brought baristas and roasters from miles around to share their passion for the craft that binds all together.
As a coffee journalist and co-owner of Catalyst Coffee Consulting in Portland, Oregon, Emily McIntyre is obsessed with the rituals and communities of coffee around the world. When not traveling to origin, connecting coffee pros with consumers, and directing Catalyst’s operations, she can be found biking in high heels or dreaming on a bridge somewhere.