The 2018 Cherry Roast Winner

Simone Rodriguez of Crema Coffee is the winner of the fourth-annual Cherry Roast competition in Denver.


Cover photo by Kat Melheim

Earlier this week, competitors from across Colorado came together to compete in the fourth-annual Cherry Roast competition, which took place at Copper Door Coffee in Denver. Simone Rodriguez of Crema Coffee won, beating out dozens of other baristas in four rounds of competition. This is a truly unique year, as the Cherry Roast was opened up to being more inclusive in supporting trans/GNC/gender queer coffee professionals.

Previously a primarily womxn in coffee competition, there has been an uproar of support in aiding these marginalized individuals in their struggles. In addition to being so inclusive, Cherry Roast is focused on creating a comfortable and safe learning and competing atmosphere for everyone involved.

Below are some of the highlights from the competition, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and having a good time!

Event organizers explain the equipment that competitors will use. The competition focuses on accessibility, which means helping all competitors do their best and not being hampered down by not knowing what equipment is on site. Photo by Brittney Balestra.


Breezy Sanchez, partner at Amethyst Coffee, introduces the competition and explains the rules. Breezy, who designed the logo for Cherry Roast, has been constantly changing the logo, responding to feedback and the ever-growing needs of Cherry Roast. Photo by Brittney Balestra.


Sam Neely (left) and Breezy Sanchez talk over the rules of the competition. This year, competitors had to battle it out in four rounds of competition. However, Cherry Roast celebrates community and communication, so competitors often talk over the rules together. Photo by Brittney Balestra.


The first round of competition was a triangulation, where competitors had to guess which of three cups of coffee was unlike the others. Photo by Brittney Balestra.


Competitors took home issues of Coffee People Zine and cupping spoons made by Umeko Motoyoshi. Photo by Brittney Balestra.


Simone Rodriguez of Crema Coffeehouse in Denver (center) was the winner of this year’s Cherry Roast hosted at Copper Door Coffee! Something unique about her scores? She scored perfectly in the first round and captured all 50 points in the triangulation, giving her a leap on other competitors. Sara Doehrman of Cimarron Coffee Roasters in Montrose (right) earned second place, while Alexandra LittleJohn from Ozo Coffee Company in Boulder (left) placed third.


Brittney Balestra works for Third Space Coffee in Colorado Springs, Colo. She started Colorado Springs’ Womxn in Coffee Award, recognizing the accomplishments of folks in the Colorado Springs coffee community.

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