USBC Finalist #6: Nick Purvis, The French Press, Santa Barbara, California

Nick Purvis has coffee in his blood: his brother, Sam, won the Northwest Regional Barista Championship in 2011. But Nick’s been succeeding on a high level in his own right for a long time. He’s the manager of the super popular cafe The French Press in Santa Barbara, Calif., which Verve Coffee Roasters out of Santa Cruz has supplied since the start.

Nick carefully brings his loaded cart on stage.
Nick carefully brings his loaded cart on stage.

This has been a hell of a weekend for Nick: so far, he’s had his mind blown twice: once when his name was announced as a semifinalist, and again when his semifinals performance earned him a spot in the uber competitive USBC final round. This is a heavy place to be ”many say the U.S. Barista Championship is the toughest stage in the world other than the World Barista Championship finals round. And Nick understands and appreciates that. He’s humbled and honored to be here.

But the guy did earn it. His coffee has been knocking the judges; socks off all weekend.

Judges placesetting
Judges placesetting

He begins his performance by telling his judges about the coffee, which is from a region in Colombia known for its clean acidity and big body. He tells the judges he’s beginning the show with his cappuccinos, and in them, the judges will taste the flavors of coffee cheesecake. The coffee ”Naranjos, which means oranges ”works especially well with milk, he tells them.

Nick explains that the cappuccino experience with a customer is one of his favorites because its the best opportunity to establish trust. He finds that customers who may not know much about coffee tend to have a lot of questions, and indeed the courage to ask them, after trying a cappuccino at the French Press.

Nick carmelized the tangerines on stage.
Nick carmelized the tangerines on stage.

He tells the judges he thinks of these new, curious customers as “flavor seekers.” The next step after he has their rust from the cappuccino is that he introduces them to straight espresso. He tells them it tastes like tangerine, red apples, and coffee cheesecake. “It’s a fully washed and sundried coffee,” he tells the judges. “I’m so excited about this coffee, guys. I can’t wait for you to try it.”

Nick in his performance-- he was so charming and sweet.
Nick in his performance– he was so charming and sweet.

Nick’s enthusiasm was contagious as he started to prepare his signature drink. He was clear and simple with this drink, bringing together the three flavors he’d been championing in this performance the entire time: he had the judges taste some caramelized tangerine juice, then some red apple juice, and finally, a sip of liquified coffee cheesecake.

Once the judges had done that, he combined those three liquids with his espresso, and served it with a tangerine slice as a garnish.

It was a lovely, heartfelt performance. Wonderful job, Nick!



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.