Scenes and Results from the First Three U.S. CoffeeChamps Preliminaries

Here’s who’s moving on from the U.S. Coffee Championships preliminary events in Honolulu, Hawaii; Huntersville, N.C.; and Seattle.


Late last month, the United States Coffee Championships’ 2019-2020 competition season got underway, with the season’s first preliminary competition held in Honolulu, Hawaii, followed by preliminaries this month in Huntersville, N.C., and Seattle.

In total, 13 preliminaries will be held over the next three months for the five U.S. CoffeeChamps competitions: Barista, Brewers Cup, Coffee In Good Spirits, Cup Taster, and Roaster. At each preliminary, six competitors from Barista, four from Brewers Cup, and three from the other events will advance to two to-be-announced qualifying competitions, which will determine who will take part in the 2020 U.S. Coffee Championships.

In addition to determining who moves on to qualifiers, the preliminary events are meant to be inviting to new competitors. Those who finished in the top spots in all five competitions in 2019 will earn an automatic bid in the qualifiers, meaning the preliminaries are able to welcome new and aspiring competitors. Nathanael May, a U.S. Coffee Championships head judge, says: “The idea is to get more new faces to compete in the preliminaries. These events are meant be a low-pressure, low-cost way for more people to experience competition.”

Read on to see what happened at the first three 2019-2020 preliminaries, and who is advancing to qualifiers.

Honolulu, Hawaii
The competition season kicked off July 26-27 with the Honolulu preliminary event hosted by Hawaii Coffee Association, which featured the Barista and Brewers Cup competitions. Here are the competitors moving on:

1. Kyla Villamor—Honolulu Coffee Company, Honolulu
2. Jonny Kimbro—The Curb Kaimuki, Honolulu
3. Philip-Andrew Yuen— Honolulu Coffee Company, Honolulu
4. Gillian Perdido—Independent, Honolulu
5. Jeremy Pyrc—YWAM Ships Kona, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
6. Elijah Wright—Hawaiian Village Coffee, Maui, Hawaii

Competition judge Honor Forte (left) with the Barista competitors in the Hawaii preliminary moving on to qualifiers, from left to right: Philip Andrew-Yuen, Gillian Perdido, winner Kyla Villamor, Elijah Wright, and Jeremy Pyrc. (Jonny Kimbro not pictured.) Photo courtesy of Madeleine LG.

Brewers Cup
1. Marina Chann— Honolulu Coffee Company, Honolulu
2. Thomas Keisling— Honolulu Coffee Company Honolulu
3. Benjamin Fitt—Holey Grail Donuts, Maui, Hawaii
4. Gillian Perdido—Independent, Honolulu

Brewers Cup Hawaii advancing preliminary competitors and judge, from left: Gillian Perdido, Benjamin Fitt, head judge Beth Beall, Thomas Keisling, and winner Marina Chann. Photo courtesy of Madeleine LG.

Huntersville, N.C.
On August 3, Waterbean Coffee hosted the Huntersville preliminary, which included the Roaster and Coffee In Good Spirits competitions. The competitors moving on are:

1. Stephen Welch—Due South Coffee, Greenville, S.C.
2. Marty Langford—Seeds Coffee Co., Birmingham, Ala.
3. Eduardo Choza—Mayorga Organics, Rockville, Md.

The top three at the Roaster preliminary competition in Huntersville, N.C. (from left): Marty Langford, second place; Stephen Welch, first; and Eduardo Choza, third. Photo courtesy of Waterbean Coffee.

Coffee In Good Spirits
1. Felix Torres—Independent, Selden, N.Y.

Felix Torres (center) will advance to the Coffee In Good Spirits qualifying event from the preliminary in Huntersville. Photo courtesy of Waterbean Coffee.

Counter Culture Coffee hosted the Seattle preliminary August 10-11, featuring the Barista and Brewers Cup events. Here are the competitors advancing:

1. Elisabeth Johnson—Hagen Coffee Roasters, Seattle
2. Reynalyn Callejo—Olympia Coffee, Olympia, Wash.
3. Morgan Eckroth—Tried & True Coffee, Corvallis, Ore.
4. Logan Maltese—Victrola Coffee, Seattle
5. Nikolas Horaites—Coava Coffee Roasters, Portland, Ore,
6. Ken Selby—Blossom Coffee Roasters, Seattle

The competitors advancing from the Barista preliminary in Seattle, from left: Nikolas Horaites, Logan Maltese, winner Elisabeth Johnson, Morgan Eckroth, and Ken Selby. (Reynalyn Callejo not pictured.) Photo by Mark Van Streefkerk.

Brewers Cup
1. Elliott Spencer—Venture Coffee Company, Seattle
2. Elisabeth Johnson—Hagen Coffee Roasters, Seattle
3. Ryan Bui—Independent, Seattle
4. Joshua Modisette—Narrative Coffee, Everett, Wash.

Brewers Cup competitors moving on from the Seattle preliminary, from left: Elisabeth Johnson, winner Elliot Spencer, and Joshua Modisette. (Ryan Bui not pictured.). Photo by Mark Van Streefkerk.
About Chris Ryan 263 Articles
Chris Ryan (he/him) is Barista Magazine's online copy editor and a freelance writer and editor with a background in the specialty coffee industry. He has been content director of Sustainable Harvest and the editor of Fresh Cup Magazine.