U.S. CoffeeChamps Nashville Qualifier Produces a Diverse Set of Competitors for Nationals


Photography by Paige Hicks

Fifty-two baristas, 36 Brewers Cup competitors, 13 Coffee In Good Spirits (CIGS) contenders, 48 Cup Tasters hopefuls, and 32 Roaster competitors gathered in Nashville, Tenn., over the weekend to vie for a spot in the upcoming United States Coffee Championships event slated for March 15–17 in Kansas City, Mo. Those who made the cut—12 roasters, 15 cup tasters, 13 CIGS competitors, 12 brewers, and 18 baristas—made up a more diverse group of competitors than these competitions have ever seen. They will join those who qualified for U.S. CoffeeChamps at the selection event in Denver in December to fight for the respective United States Championship titles. And those five eventual winners will go on to compete at the international level in the coming months.

Elisabeth Johnson of Venture Coffee Co. in Seattle qualified to compete in both the United States Barista Championship and the Cup Tasters Championship at the Nashville CoffeeChamps qualifier.

Hundreds of coffee professionals and enthusiasts spent the weekend at the Track One event space in Nashville not only to watch the exciting competitions, but also to walk a mini-trade show, talk to vendors about the latest products on the coffee market, and then go on to multiple parties and latte-art throwdowns in the evenings at some of Nashville’s hottest coffeehouses.

Anthony Ragler was one of several of the Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp participants to qualify for a national competition. Glitter Cat is a program founded by 2018 USBC runner-up T. Benjamin Fischer developed to empower and promote baristas from underrepresented groups.

If the dynamic daytime activities and lively nightlife built around the qualifying competitions is any indication of what’s to come in Kansas City for the national events, we can expect to be in for some of the most exhilarating, community-focused, and quality-driven events in specialty coffee all year.

Former United States Brewers Cup Champion Dylan Siemens placed first in the Barista Competition at the CoffeeChamps Nashville qualifier.
Samatha Spillman of Dillanos Coffee Roasters took second place in the Barista Competition at the CoffeeChamps Nashville qualifier.
T. Benjamin Fischer, having taken second place in the 2018 United States Barista Championship, won third-place honors at the CoffeeChamps Nashville qualifier.

Here are the names of the competitors whose performances in Nashville this weekend earned them a spot in the upcoming Kansas City events. To see the full lists of folks who competed in Nashville, and their scores, just follow this link.

1st: Dylan Siemens, Onyx Coffee Lab
2nd: Samantha Spillman, Dillanos Coffee Roasters
3rd: T. Benjamin Fischer, Elixr Coffee Roasters
4th: Jenna Gotthelf, Counter Culture Coffee
5th: Rodrigo Vargas, Rival Bros Coffee Roasters
6th: Isaiah Sheese, Archetype Coffee
7th: Elisabeth Johnson, Venture Coffee Co.
8th: Gisel Alvarez, Monarch Coffee
9th: Ryan Wojton, Madcap Coffee Co.
10th: Anthony Ragler, Counter Culture Coffee
11th: Kay Cheon, Dune Coffee Roasters
12th: Cris Mendoza, Saint Frank Coffee
13th: Samuel Schaefer, Stovetop Roasters
14th: Juan Diaz, Deeply Coffee Co.
15th: Ali Abderrahman, State Street Coffee/La Reunion
16th: Shane Hess, Jubala Coffee
17th: Ben Vollmar, Flatlands Coffee
18th: Rachel Diaz, Flatlands Coffee

Here are the Brewers Cup competitors who earned a spot in the U.S. Brewers Cup Championship over the course of the CoffeeChamps Nashville qualifier weekend.

1st: Grace McCutchan, Red Rooster Coffee Roaster
2nd: Jennifer Hwang, Klatch Coffee
3rd: Tyler Duncan, Topeca Coffee Roasters
4th: John Kruegler, Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting
5th: Ben Martin, Madcap Coffee Co.
6th: Kenneth Selby, Vashon Coffee Co.
7th: Cody Barnhart, Vienna Coffee Co.
8th: Gunnar Langenhuizen, Dune Coffee Roasters
9th: Chelsey Walker-Watson, Atlas Coffee
10th: Elika Liftee, Onyx Coffee Lab
11th: Skyler Richter, LAMILL
12th: Felix Felix, Dune Coffee Roasters

2019 will be the first time the Coffee In Good Spirits Championship (which celebrates alcoholic coffee drinks) will take place in the United States. These competitors will go on to compete for the national title in Kansas City.

1st: Kris Wood, Black Fox Coffee Co.
2nd: Nathanael Mehrens, Stay Golden
3rd: Matt Foster, Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co.
4th: Leo-Charles Salerno, Greater Goods Coffee Roasters
5th: Brodie Lewis, Madcap Coffee Co.
6th: Rachel Huffman, Dose Nashville
7th: John Martin, LAMILL
8th: Jen McElroy, Klatch Coffee
9th: Brian Beyke, Quills Coffee
10th: Koji Daremo, The Ruin Daily
11th: Dan Hilburn, Backyard Beans Coffee Co.
12th: Joel Cronenberg, Provision Coffee
13th: Lindy Schubring, Greyhouse Coffee & Supply Co.

Some of the happy group of 15 coffee pros who qualified to compete in the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship, while at the CoffeeChamps Nashville qualifier.

1st: Matthew McDaniel, Summit Coffee
2nd: Summer Zhang, Onyx Coffee Lab
3rd: Aaron Lerner, SkyTop Coffee
4th: Sarah Lambeth, Congregation Coffee Roasters
5th: Brandon Hutchingson, Mission Coffee
6th: Rachel Stanich, Red Fox Coffee Merchants
7th: Bear Soliven, Onyx Coffee Lab
8th: Samuel Demisse, Keffa Coffee Importers
9th: Elisabeth Johnson, Venture Coffee Co.
10th: Hyoung Wuk Jung, Loit Coffee
11th: Jeff Mooney, Folly Coffee Roasters
12th: Jarrett Johnson, Lineage Roasting
13th: Cameron Metzinger, Backyard Beans Coffee Co.
14th: Joshua Edens, Onyx Coffee Lab
15th: Helen Choi, Luce Ave Coffee Roasters

Participants in the Roaster Competition will vie for the title of United States Roaster Champion, along with those who qualified at the Denver qualifier, at the national championship in Kansas City.

1st: Amanda Hagenbuch, Rival Bros. Coffee Roasters
2nd: Jeremy Moore, Bonlife Coffee Roasters
3rd: Steve Cuevas, Black Oak Coffee Roasters
4th: Eduardo Choza, Mayorga Organics
5th: José René Martinez, J. Rene Coffee Roasters
6th: Kenneth Thomas, Umble Coffee Co.
7th: Anthony Greatorex, Red Rooster Coffee
8th: Jason Burkum, Archetype Coffee
9th: Matthew Delarosa, Ironsmith Coffee Roasters
10th: Evan Pollitt, Summit Coffee
11th: Aaron MacDougall, Broadsheet Coffee Roasters
12th: Eric Stone, Mudhouse Coffee Roasters

About Sarah 934 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.