Grand Rapids and Rancho Cucamonga: The Last Two US CoffeeChamps Preliminaries

We round out coverage of the 2018 US CoffeeChamps preliminaries with highlights from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.


Cover photo courtesy of Klatch Coffee

The prelims are over! The last two competitions have taken place—one in September and the other this past weekend—to determine which baristas and coffee brewers will compete in the United States Coffee Championships (USCC) national competitions later this year. These final two preliminary events took place in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The top finishers from these contests win automatic spots in one of two CoffeeChamps competitions—one in December in Denver and the other in January in Nashville, Tenn.—that will then determine who will compete at the national competition in Kansas City in March 2019.

We previously covered competitions in Chattanooga, Tenn., Denver, and Amarillo, TexasWashington, D.C., a brewers-only competition in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a barista-only competition in Canton, Ohio; and Montgomery, Ala., and Seattle. Now, we look at the final two competitions:


Ferris Coffee hosted a preliminary event in Grand Rapids, Mich., on September 8-9. Most of the competitors hailed from the Midwest, flocking to the lakeside town to brew delicious coffees and earn a spot at CoffeeChamps.


1. Isaiah Sheese—Archetype Coffee, Omaha, Neb.
2. Alex Kim
3. Sam Schaefer—Stovetop Coffee Roasters, Ann Arbor, Mich.
4. Alex Worth
5. Sarah Hise—Cultivar Coffee, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
6. Ryan Wojton—Madcap Coffee, Grand Rapids, Mich.


1. Joshua Dusk-Peebles—Counter Culture Coffee, Chicago, Ill.
2. Augustine Toscano—Windmill Coffee Roasters, Ames, Iowa
3. Craig Batory—White Pine Coffee in Lake Orion, Mich. (formerly of Mr. Espresso, Oakland, Calif.)
4. Ben Martin—Madcap Coffee, Grand Rapids, Mich.


Baristas and brewers together—these folks will all move on to the next round of competition. Photo courtesy of Klatch Coffee.

The Rancho Cucamonga preliminary event was hosted by Klatch Coffee on October 6-7. Last year, this preliminary hosted a number of folks who would eventually go on to place and compete at the national competition—and this year was no exception.


1. Matthew Barahura—Intelligentsia Coffee, Los Angeles
2. Kay Cheon—Dune Coffee Roasters, Santa Barbara, Calif.
3. Tae-Wan Kim—Brew Well, Kindness and Mischief, Arcadia, Calif.
4. Xana Young—Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, San Diego
5. Hana Kaneshige—Counter Culture Coffee, Los Angeles
6. Austin Amento—Augie’s Coffee, Redlands, Calif.


1. Blair Smith—Augie’s Coffee, Redlands, Calif.
2. Kaley Gann—Messenger Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.
3. Gunnar Langenhizen
4. Hector Rojas

And here’s the entire list of baristas and brewers, from previous preliminary events, that qualified for a spot at CoffeeChamps!


Cabell Tice—Orchard Coffee, Waynesville, N.C.
Austin Dryden—Spiller Park, Atlanta
Juan Diaz—Deeply Coffee, Orlando, Fla.
Jonathan Shea—Plus Coffee, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Tyler Sowrey—Mean Mug, Hixon, Tenn.
Christina Bellatoni—NEAT Coffee, Darien, Conn.
Dylan Siemens—Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, Ark.
Andrea Allen—Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, Ark.
Joel Bigelow—Messenger Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.
Rachael Hurd—Epoch Coffee, Austin, Texas
Zach Domville—Messenger Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.
Ali Abderrahman—State Street Coffee, Dallas
Sam Neely—Switchback Coffee Roasters, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Samantha Spillman—Dillanos Coffee Roasters, Seattle
Heather McCullough—Novo Coffee, Denver
Saige Fuller—Peak Place Coffee/ Hold Fast Coffee Roasters, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Gizel Alvarez—Monarch Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.
Leah Shinke—PT’s Coffee, Topeka, Kan.
Cassie Ash—Small Planes, Washington, D.C.
Jenna Gotthelf—Counter Culture Coffee, New York City
Anthony Ragler—Vigilante Coffee Co., Hyattsville, Md.
Hannah Vered—Ogawa Coffee, Boston
Topher Ou—Little Collins, New York City
Steph Caronna—North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, N.C.
Joe Burns
Joe Dininger
James Blanchard
Rachael Diaz
Sean Hreha
Lindsey Overstreet
T. Ben Fischer—Elixr Coffee Roasters, Philadelphia
Samuel Smith—Topeca Coffee Roasters, Tulsa, Okla.
Joseph Monett—Cafe Grumpy, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Whit Hagemann—East Pole Coffee Co., Atlanta
Jimmy Truong—Woodlawn Cycle Cafe, Birmingham, Ala.
Sarah Gill–Mama Mocha’s, Auburn, Ala.
Kristi Persinger—Stumptown Coffee, Los Angeles
Elisabeth Johnson—Independent, Seattle
Damien Giles—Prince Coffee, Portland, Ore.
Robert Uribe, Jr.—Cherry Street Public House, Seattle
Rebekah Sears—Portland Roasting Coffee, Portland, Ore.
Camille Bevans—Nossa Familia, Portland, Ore.


Wade Preston—Prevail Coffee, Montgomery, Ala.
Mark Stahlwood—Mad Priest, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Ken Johnson—Due South Coffee, Greenville, S.C.
Josh Hubbard—Dynamite Coffee, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Nick Stevens—West Oak Coffee Roasters, Denton, Texas
Jerry Ponzer—Messenger Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.
Nicholai Elkins—Individual, Wheat Ridge, Colo.
John Ruben Medina—Palace Coffee, Amarillo, Texas
Jacob Cordie—Brandywine Coffee, Wilmington, Del.
Matthew Landford—Sweet Bloom Coffee, Denver
Marty Sweeney—Novo Coffee, Denver
Sloane Wachob—Commonwealth Coffee, Denver
Johnny Costa—ReAnimator Coffee, Philadelphia
Tito Pena—The Wydown Coffee Bar, Washington, D.C.
John Krugler—Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co., Richmond, Va.
Matthew Leberman—Independent, Baltimore
Thomas Keisling—Honolulu Coffee Company, Honolulu
Madeleine LG—Independent, Holualoa
Douglas Yi Young—Honolulu Coffee Company, Honolulu
Justin Schiada—Roadcase Coffee, Honolulu
Elika Liftee—Onyx Coffee Lab, Springdale, Ark.
Avery Leith—Elixr Coffee, Philadelphia
Blake Neil—Seeds Coffee, Birmingham, Ala.
Chelsea Dubay—Purity Coffee, Greenville, S.C.
Chelsey Walker-Watson—Atlas Coffee Importers, Seattle
Elisabeth Johnson—Independent, Seattle
Zach Perkins—Roseline Coffee, Portland, Ore.
Kelly Hill—Temple Coffee Roasters, Sacramento, Calif.

We’ll see you in Denver in December!

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


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