U.S. Coffee Championships 2023 Baltimore Qualifiers Results

More than 100 competitors brought their talent to Baltimore to take part in six competitions, and 63 will progress to nationals in April.

BY NATE KLOCK
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos by Matthew Temple courtesy of the U.S. Coffee Championships

Last weekend, my hometown welcomed the U.S. Coffee Championships (USCC) qualifiers with the charm only Baltimore could bring.

The festivities began on Thursday with a meetup at Ceremony Coffee’s Harbor Point location, which boasts a baby-blue Synesso Hydra and a beautiful waterfront view of the Inner Harbor and the iconic Domino Sugar sign, a sign that I call home.

Friday brought judges and competitors to the convention center for practice and calibration. USCC’s first qualifying event for 2023 brought competitors from Florida to California to compete in six different categories: Barista, Brewers Cup, Coffee In Good Spirits, Cup Tasters, Roaster, and Latte Art.

Rows of black cupping vessels are lined up on a long table for cup tasters to try.
Cup tasters were tasked with triangulating six groups of coffee, a true test of the palate.

Competitions

The Cup Tasters rounds were fast-paced and silent except for competitors slurping and spitting, racing to triangulate six groups of coffee. “We are only competing against our own palates,” the cup-tasting emcee reminded competitors. Although the competition was underway, we could only hope to be better coffee professionals than we were yesterday.

The Brewers Cup and Barista competitors presented coffees they were passionate about and told stories that aligned with their values, connecting us to the coffee, the competitor, and the community.

A barista/bartender pours a yellow cocktail in a fluted glass for the Coffee in Good Spirits contest, with onlookers in the background.
The Coffee In Good Spirits competition required an assortment of coffee cocktail creations.

Roasters were sent 20 pounds of green Rwandan coffee and brought their best roast to showcase. Coffee In Good Spirits competitors were tasked with making hot and cold boozy coffee cocktails.

Latter art in two dark blue mugs, which appears to be a fancy seahorse design.
Latte artists were tasked with two free-pour lattes and two designer ones.

Latte art competitors were challenged with duplicating two free-pour lattes and two designer lattes. No matter the competition, it was clear that everyone spent hours practicing prior to the weekend.

Charm City

Baltimore graciously welcomed the coffee community. Keffa Coffee hosted those looking to unwind Saturday evening with Wagyu beef hot dogs, drinks, and a light-hearted latte art throwdown. Those who signed up steamed milk on La Marzocco Modbar steam modules alongside their competitor to show their best latte. Local roasters who donated coffee for the event included Thread Coffee Roasters, Vigilante Coffee Roasters, Sophomore Coffee, Black Acres Roastery, Small Planes, Red Rooster Coffee, and Lost Sock Roasters. They provided their talent for use in both competitions and the café, which sustained us for the long competition days.

A barista prepares their setup in Baltimore.

Next Up: Denver, March 3-5

The second USCC will be held March 3-5 in Denver. The highest-ranking competitors will compete in the nationals on April 21-23 in Portland, Ore., at the Specialty Coffee Expo, joining those who qualified in Baltimore for a chance to win their respective competitions at the 2023 U.S. Coffee Championships.

Judges hard at work tasting espresso for the Barista competition.

The champions from the U.S. national competitions will represent the USA in the World Coffee Championships. The World Barista, Brewers, and Cup Tasters Championships will take place in Athens, Greece, June 22-24, while the World Latte Art, Coffee In Good Spirits, and Roasting Championships will be happening in Taipei, Taiwan, November 17-20.

Competitor registration for the Denver qualifier is open until February 17. Consider registering, volunteering, or spectating at this prestigious event.

A group of 18 baristas pose for the winner photo, all of varying ages, gender identities and backgrounds. The front of the group kneels, and the top three winners hold up wooden plaques.
Barista Qualifying Competition winners pose together. First place was Juan Diaz (front row center); Elisabeth Johnson (bottom row, second from left) finished second; and third place was Hugo Cano (bottom row, fifth from left).

Winners at the Baltimore Qualifiers

BARISTA QUALIFYING COMPETITION (27 competitors total):

#1. Juan Diaz, KWC, Orlando, Fla.

#2. Elisabeth Johnson, Dayglow, Los Angeles

#3. Hugo Cano, Amberson Coffee, Indianapolis

#4. Jake McFarland, Black & White Coffee, Raleigh, N.C.

#5. Addison Mathis, PERC Coffee, Decatur, Ga.

#6. Dakota Graff, Onyx Coffee Lab, Rogers, Ark.

#7. Meg Skop, Independent, San Francisco

#8. Jinwoo Ahn, Cafe Grumpy, Brooklyn, N.Y.

#9. Jamie Patel, Co Trade Imports, Wake Forest, N.C.

#10. Christian Bak, Independent, Reno, Nev.

#11. Maya Crowley, Nguyen Coffee Supply, Brooklyn, N.Y.

#12. Austin Bowers, Methodical Coffee, Greenville, S.C.

#13. Q Miller-Edwards, De Fer Coffee and Tea, Pittsburgh

#14. Jorge Amador, Soluna PGH, Pittsburgh

#15. David Yardley, Moon Goat Coffee, Santa Ana, Calif.

#16. Jay Caragay, Spro Coffee, Cockeysville, Md.

#17. Lynn Hrabovsky, Soul at the Joseph, Columbus, Ohio

#18. Sabrina Denham, Not Your Average Joe, Norman, Okla.

BREWERS CUP QUALIFYING COMPETITION (19 competitors total):

1. Weihong Zhang, Blendin Coffee Lab, Pearland, Texas

2. Isaiah Sheese, Archetype Coffee, Omaha, Neb.

3. Peace Sakulclanuwat, Coffee Project NY, New York

4. C Hughes, Amberson Coffee, Indianapolis

5. Joseph Burns, Ghost Coffee Collab, Pittsburgh

6. John Dixon, Jubala Coffee, Raleigh, N.C.

7. Shaa’ista Sabir, PERC Coffee Roasters, Ellenwood, Ga.

8. Andres Morales, Coffee Project NY, New York

9. Jillion Potter, Helm Coffee, Indiana

10. Ryan Bui, Mercanta North America, Seattle

11. Steve Kim, Rare Bird Coffee Roasters, Arlington, Va.

12. Max Phills, Loveless Coffee, Brooklyn, N.Y.

COFFEE IN GOOD SPIRITS QUALIFYING COMPETITION (5 competitors total):

1. Mo Koolphanich, Slipstream, DC, Arlington, Va.

2. Ivan Solis, Recuerdos Coffee Co., Decatur, Ga.

3. Gregory White, Independent, Raleigh, N.C.

4. Louis Elguera, Coatl Coffee, Vista, Calif.

LATTE ART QUALIFYING COMPETITION (7 competitors total):

1. Tracy Jiang, Intelligentsia Coffee, Medford, Mass.

2. Edward Griffin, Messenger Coffee, Kansas City, Mo.

3. Julie Patadia, Coffee Project NY, New York

4. Donald Perdomo, Independent, Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

5. Abdulqader Dali, Three Whistles, Arlington, Va.

6. Camilo Sanchez Gomez, Nativus/Red House, Newark, N.Y.

ROASTER QUALIFYING COMPETITION (21 competitors total):

1. Luke Jung, Luce Coffee Roasters, Houston

2. Matt Saperstone, Nilaa Coffee, Philadelphia

3. Tony Auger, Goshen Coffee Roasters, Edwardsville, Ill.

4. Soonhee Ka, Jejes Coffee Roasters, Sharon, Mass.

5. Tio Fallen, Three Keys Coffee, Houston

6. Paul Ahn, Madcap Coffee Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.

7. Hee Su Chang, Gabee Coffee Roasters, Broomfield, Colo.

8. Michael Matthews, Alinea Coffee Roasters, Metairie, La.

CUP TASTERS QUALIFYING COMPETITION (31 competitors total):

#1. Tom Bomford, Black Fox Coffee, New York

#2. Inwook Park, Fairwave Coffee Collective, Kansas City, Mo.

#3. Bear Soliven, Onyx Coffee Lab, Fayetteville, Ark.

#4. Katie Britt, Red Banner Coffee Roasters, Morley, Mo.

#5. El Roland, Keffa Coffee, Inc., Baltimore

#6. Ryan Hudson, Broad Porch Coffee, Luray, Va.

#7. Beatriz Garay, Mayorga Coffee, Rockville, Md.

#8. Tony Auger, Goshen Coffee Roasters, Edwardsville, Ill.

#9. Michael Nuziato, Broadsheet Coffee Roasters, Sommerville, Mass.

#10. Helen Choi, Luce Coffee Roasters, Houston

#11. Michael Matthews, Alinea Coffee Roasters, Metairie, La.

#12. Ben Masino, Gaia Coffee Co, Lewes, Del.

#13. Luke Jung, Luce Coffee Roasters, Houston

#14. Daniel Borras, Perc Coffee Roasters, Atlanta

#15. Eduardo Choza, Mayorga Coffee, Rockville, Md.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nate Klock (he/him) is an espresso technician at Thread Coffee Roasters in Baltimore. When he’s not tinkering with machines, he enjoys cooking, painting, and poetry in the apartment he shares with his boyfriend and cat.

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