Hibernation over!

The team here at Barista Mag is hard at work putting the final pretty touches on our February/March issue ”we have a lot of treats in store for you! But one thing we’re REALLY excited about when it comes to February/March is how many regional barista competitions are taking place during those two months. Can you believe there will be six? That’s intense! Especially for our dear Michelle Campbell who will make sure they not only go off without a hitch, but are hugely successful and fun for all involved.


(Michelle didn’t like the picture of her that I was going to use here so I’m using this 90210 shot to represent her, fyi. I think the joy in the faces of Brandon, Brenda, Kelly, Donna, Steve, David, Andrea, and Dylan more than draws a parallel to Michelle’s enthusiasm about barista competitions.)

So here’s what she ”along with the gracious coffee companies hosting these contests ”have in store for you, in chronological order:

First up is the Midwest Regional Barista Competition, which is being hosted by Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Company in St. Louis, Missouri, February 8-10. The Midwest competition is always a doozy, and is known for turning out some of the best baristas in the country. Will The Pete take The Robin on? Will Dennhardt come out of retirement? It’ll be an exciting weekend for sure!


The very next weekend the action will be going down in D.C., baby! Nick “My Big Toe” Cho and his company, murky coffee, are once again hosting the Mid Atlantic Regional Barista Competition at Coffee Fest DC! Props to Nick for being the one to originally facilitate talks with Coffee Fest about holding the comps in conjunction with this always-awesome coffee trade show. For details about the comp, check in with Nick or with Michelle, or keep looking at coffeed.com under “barista competitions & events” for when Michelle posts about registration being open.


The very next weekend (Feb. 26-27), it’s off to Vegas with Michelle for the very first Southwest Regional Barista Competition! Not many details have been released about this comp, but we hear it’s being held in conjunction with International Hospitality Week. Wonder if my man Gil Grissom will make an appearance…


Once again, stay tuned to coffeed.com in the “barista competitions & events” section for Michelle’s announcement of open registration.

After Vegas, our jetsetter Michelle heads to Thornton, Colorado, home of the esteemed Allegro Coffee Company, the host of the first ever Mountain Regional Barista Competition, March 1 & 2! It truly is so exciting to see these new competitions happening. I remember being in a meeting at the Benson Hotel in Portland back in 2003, when the very first gathering of the newly formed United States Barista Championship Committee took place, and we wondered if we were completely nuts to think we could get 10 regional competitions going in the next 10 years. Only five years later, look at you guys. Look at your awesome community. I’m getting choked up.

OK, anyway, the Mountain Regional will be swingin’ — not only will this guy be there to work his magic


but so will the strong, emerging Mountain Region’s community of baristas, which has worked long and hard for a regional of their own. We can’t wait to see how it goes!

Onward! We are soooo excited about the Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition, hosted for the first time by the coffee maniacs at Alterra in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many of you know Scott and Justin and Natasha and Colin and Jenny G. from trade show appearances ”at the Millrock Latte Art Championships as well as at regionals and generally making mischief down the Coffee Fest rows ”but hey, guess what? There’s a whole company of cool people at Alterra! And they want YOU to come meet them, celebrate with them, compete with them, and rabble rouse with them. The Great Lakes Regional will be held March 14-16. Check. It. Out.


About this time, our California girl Michelle will be soooo cold! So it’s a good thing her last competition of the month will be in sunny Cali — Berkeley, to be exact! Pacific Bay Coffee Company of Walnut Creek and now of Berkeley, too, is generously hosting the Western Regional Barista Competition at the Gaia Arts Center in Berkeley, March 28-30. This particular region has earned a reputation for putting on a very well-rounded event consisting of not just a fantastic barista competition, but a series of educational sessions, equipment to try out, and people from all walks of coffee life to meet. And this year’s competition will be no exception. Just don’t go climbing trees, please.


So there you have it: all the regional barista competitions happening in February and March. But that certainly isn’t all that’s ahead: there will be one more regional taking place in April ”the Northeast Regional taking place in Deferio territory: Ithaca, N.Y., April 12 & 13. We’ll be writing about that one closer to the date, as well as the many other barista events you have to look forward to this spring, including another Millrock Latte Art Championship, and of course the MidAtlantic/Northeast Barista Jam taking place in Easton, Pennsylvania, March 5-7. So much to do!! So much fun to be had!!


  1. I think it’s really great that there are more regional barista competitions than ever. However, I think it ABSOLUTELY SUCKS that they are inevitably crammed together in the last two months before the USBC.

    Travelling to competition is an expensive proposition. Flights, cars, hotel, meals and time away from work and family are real-world expenses. The number of available, USBC-level judges is limited and this unreasonable cramming of the competitions means that those qualified judges just are not available to those competitions – unless someone actually thinks it’s reasonable for these people to travel six weekends out of eight with finite financial resources.

    The USBC Committee and the SCAA need to take a heavier hand towards administering the regional competitions and spreading them out throughout the course of the competitive year. A quality event is more than just a drunken barista party on Saturday night, the judging must be tough, even and rock-solid – and this can only be achieved by bringing in qualified and experienced judges, who also need time to spend with their families and businesses.

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