Denver CoffeeChamps Qualifier: Newbies + Vets Shine in the Mile High City

The first of two United States CoffeeChamps qualifying events took place December 1–2 in Denver—and it was phenomenal.


Hundreds of coffee professionals and enthusiasts gathered at the National Western Complex in Denver over the past weekend to compete in and watch the first of two events organized by the Specialty Coffee Association to qualify contenders to compete at the national level in a variety of coffee contests: Barista, Brewers Cup, Cup Tasters, Roaster, and for the first time, the Coffee in Good Spirits Championship.

The more than 100 professionals who competed in Denver had already qualified for this event in a preliminary competition (10 took place from June to October). Now, they would take their turn on stage to see if they have what it takes to compete in the United States CoffeeChamps competitions, which will take place in Kansas City, Mo. March 15–17, 2019.

Here are some snapshots from the weekend, and please see the end of this post for list of the competitors who qualified in each event for the U.S. Coffee Championships.

Emcee Anna Gutierrez of Barista 22 made all the competitors on the Barista Championship stage feel welcome throughout the weekend.


Maria Cleaveland of Urnex (right) catches up with local barista and community organizer Kristyn Wade.


Already a beloved competition on an international level, the Coffee in Good Spirits Championship—in which competitors use alcohol to create coffee and espresso-based drinks—made its United States debut in Denver.


Crowd favorite Andrea Allen of Onyx Coffee Lab delivered a beautiful performance that asked some hard questions about the prices currently being paid for coffee. She won second place overall.


Emily Orendorff of Boxcar Coffee Roasters in Boulder, Colo., knocked it out of the park on stage, winning third place in the Barista Championship. Emily was one of the inaugural Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp trainees in October.


Jen Apodaca of Royal Coffee shed happy tears after winning third place not only in the Cup Tasters competition, but the Roaster competition as well.

Sam Neely, Switchback Coffee Roasters, Colorado Springs, Colo.—Score: 324
Andrea Allen, Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, Ark.—Score: 306
Emily Orendorff, Boxcar Coffee Roasters, Boulder, Colo.—Score: 296
Cassie Ash, Small Planes Coffee, Washington, D.C.—Score: 288
Hugo Cano, Independent, Los Angeles—Score: 287.5
Naida Lindberg, Verve Coffee, Santa Cruz, Calif.—Score: 287.5
Reef Bessette, The Coffee Movement, San Francisco—Score: 285.5
Joel Bigelow, Messenger Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.—Score: 283
Hana Kaneshige, Counter Culture Coffee, Los Angeles—Score: 281
Raechel Hurd, Epoch Coffee, Austin, Texas—Score: 278.5
Milo DeGoosh, Bard Coffee, Portland, Maine—Score: 273
Matthew Barahura, Intelligentsia Coffee, San Diego—Score: 267
Austin Amento, Augies Coffee, Redlands, Calif.—Score: 265.5
Kristi Persinger, Stumptown Coffee, Portland, Ore.—Score: 264.5
Meg Skop, Equator Coffees & Teas, San Rafael, Calif.—Score: 262.5
Douglas Park, Independent, Boston—Score: 261
Maxwell Mooney, Narrative Coffee, Everett, Wash.—Score: 255.5
Morgan Eckroth, Tried & True Coffee Co., Corvallis, Ore.—Score: 250.5

Jacob White, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, San Diego.—Score: 158.78
Kaley Gann, Messenger Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.—Score: 158.69
Justin McCormick-Goodhart, Sweet Bloom Coffee, Denver—156.45
Lance Hedrick, Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, Ark.—Score: 155.84
Joshua Modisette, Narrative Coffee, Bellingham, Wash.—Score: 154.73
Madeleine Longoria-Garcia, Independent, Holualoa, Hawaii—Score: 154.35
Augustine Toscano, Windmill Coffee, Ames, Iowa—Score: 151.81
Avery Leith, Elixr Coffee Roasters, Philadelphia—Score: 151.67
Blair Smith, Augies Coffee, Redlands, Calif.—Score: 151.30
Stephen White, Joe Coffee Co., New York City—Score: 150.87
Nicholai Elkins, Switchback Coffee Roasters, Colorado Springs, Colo.—Score: 150.61
Kelly Hill, Temple Coffee Roasters, Sacramento, Calif.—Score: 150.23

Sam Schroeder, Olympia Coffee, Olympia, Wash.—Score: 319
Kimhak Em, Peixoto Coffee Roasters, Chandler, Ariz.—Score: 290.5
Joshua Smith, West Oak Coffee Roasters, Denton, Texas—Score: 269.5
Michael Slomzenski, Huckleberry Roasters, Denver—Score: 240.5
Kasey Headley, Trinity Street Coffee Bar, Decatur, Texas—Score: 206.5

Sebastian Leggier, Copper Door Coffee Roasters, Denver—6 cups, 2:12
Chris Kornman, Royal Coffee, Oakland, Calif.—5 cups, 2:06
Jen Apodaca, Royal Coffee, Oakland, Calif.—5 cups, 2:13
Chloe OConnor, Everyman Espresso, Brooklyn, N.Y.—5 cups,  2:49
Scott MacBride, InterAmerican Coffee, San Diego—5 cups,  2:54
Roman Deshong, Amethyst Coffee Co., Denver—5 cups, 3:33
Kevin Nealon, Huckleberry Roasters, Denver—5 cups, 3:42
Andy Sprenger, Sweet Bloom Coffee, Denver—5 cups, 4:13
Jin Chiew, Sweet Bloom Coffee, Denver—5 cups, 4:52
Austin Amento, Augies Coffee, Redlands, Calif.—5 cups, 5:15
Michael Schroeder, Oddly Correct, Kansas City, Mo.—5 cups, 5:23
Noah Goodman, Faema, Brooklyn, N.Y.—4 cups, 1:53
Khristian Yurchak, Sisters Coffee Co., Sisters, Ore.—4 cups, 1:56
Brandon Despain, Caffe Ibis, Logan, Utah—4 cups, 2:24
Jie Jiang, Andante Coffee Roasters, Los Angeles—4 cups, 2:25

Andrew Oberholzer, Joe Coffee Co., Brooklyn, N.Y.—Score: 79.17
Shelby Williamson, Huckleberry Roasters, Denver—Score: 76.42
Jen Apodaca, Royal Coffee, Oakland, Calif.—Score: 75.67
Leo Sideras, Independent, Denver—Score: 75.42
Evan Inatome, Elixr Coffee, Philadelphia—Score: 75.33
Aaron Rollins, Caffe Ibis, Logan, Utah—Score: 75.33
Hugh Morretta, La Colombe, Philadelphia—Score: 75.00
Daniel Mauck, Social Hour Coffee Roasters, Kihei, Hawaii—Score: 74.08
Mark Boccard, Southdown Coffee, Huntington, Ky.—Score: 73.83
Weston Nawrocki, Manzanita Roasting Co., San Diego—Score: 73.67
Andrew Burgason, Windmill Coffee, Ames, Iowa—Score: 73.58
Nathan Van Dusen, Brio Coffeeworks, Burlington, Vt.—Score: 73.50

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  1. I don’t want to be that person (again), but my name is misspelled here – Madeleine

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