The Big Eastern Is Here!

Aaron Ultimo of Ultimo Coffee gives instruction at the judges workshop being held today at Counter Culture's HQ in Durham in preparation for the Big Central, which starts tomorrow!

With just three lead-up competition events to the big United States national coffee championships, we have a lot to look forward to when one of these rolls around. We had a great Big Central a few months ago, and tomorrow the second of our Big events—the Big Eastern—begins in Durham, North Carolina, where it is being graciously hosted by Counter Culture Coffee and Dallis Brothers Coffee.

Excitement today as the judges workshop gets underway in Durham, N.C.!

Excitement today as the judges workshop gets underway in Durham, N.C.!

With Ken headed to Italy this morning to report on SIGEP and the Italian Coffee Championships, and Sarah working hard here in Barista Magazine’s offices to finish the February+March issue in time to go to press on Tuesday, we have our hands full and are sad not to be at the Big Eastern ourselves. Luckily, we have an intrepid, on-the-ground reporter in outgoing SE Champion Lem Butler! Lem is not only emceeing the Big Eastern this weekend, but will be reporting and posting photos for all of Barista Magazine’s blog readers! Thanks, Lem!

The last time we saw Lem was in December when Barista Mag Publisher, Ken, was with him in Kenya. Here are Ken and Lem on a visit to a Masai village.

The last time we saw Lem was in December when Barista Mag Publisher, Ken, was with him in Kenya. Here are Ken and Lem on a visit to a Masai village.

Today, judges calibration is in full effect at Counter Culture’s headquarters. Competitors are arriving in town and setting up their equipment and shaking off those nervous pre-show jitters. If you’re like me and you can’t be there to watch all the action—The NE Barista Comp, the SE Barista Com, the NE Brewers Cup, and the SE Brewers Cup—in person, you can tune in from anywhere in the world you have an internet connection and watch all the action by going HERE.

Espresso machine sponsor Nuova Simonelli has set up machines for the competition as well as practice for the competitors. Thanks, Nuova Simonelli!

Espresso machine sponsor Nuova Simonelli has set up machines for the competition as well as practice for the competitors. Thanks, Nuova Simonelli!

To see photos and read profiles of all the Big Eastern Barista Competitors, go HERE!

And to see photos and read profiles of all the Big Eastern Brewers Cup competitors, go HERE!

Aaron Ultimo of Ultimo Coffee gives instruction at the judges workshop being held today at Counter Culture's HQ in Durham in preparation for the Big Central, which starts tomorrow!

Aaron Ultimo of Ultimo Coffee gives instruction at the judges workshop being held today at Counter Culture’s HQ in Durham in preparation for the Big Central, which starts tomorrow!

Here is the complete schedule of events:

Thursday, January 16

11:00am – 5:00pm
Big Eastern Event Judges Calibration Workshop
Held at Counter Culture Coffee
4911 S. Alston Ave., Durham, NC 27713

7:00pm – 9:00pm
Meet and Greet: Competitors, Judges, Volunteers and Sponsors (only)
Held at The Pit
321 W Geer St, Durham, NC 27701
Complimentary food, beer & wine in a casual, mingling atmosphere in their private dining room. The special guests will receive a Lanyard + “pass” that will let the bearer get discounts at select local business. Competitors will also be able to pick up their gift bags.

Friday, January 17

10:30am – 5:00pm
NE Barista & SE Barista Competition: Day One

11:00am – 1:30pm
South Eastern Brewers Cup:Compulsory

11:00am – 5:00pm
BGA Cafe open

5:00pm – 5:30pm
Announce Finalists for South Eastern Brewers Cup

3:00pm – 8:00pm
Caravela Coffee Cupping and Reception
Held at Greenbridge, Sky Lounge – 5th Floor

8:00pm – 12:00am
BIG EASTERN Road Trip to Raleigh
FREE RIDE ON A FANCY BUS from Durham to Raleigh w/ adult beverages – departs from the Hilton Garden Inn at 8:15pm.
MEET & MINGLE AT JOULE COFFEE and enjoy a complimentary cocktail and snacks specially prepared by Ashley Christensen for Big Eastern brewers and baristas.
EXPLORE THE CAPITOL CITY for 2 hours then ride back to Durham in style!
Tickets and event details available at BigEasternRoadTrip.eventbrite.com.

Saturday, January 17

8:15am – 11:00am
South Eastern Brewers Cup: Open Service

11:00am – 5:00pm
BGA Cafe open

11:30am – 5:30pm
NE Barista & SE Barista Competition: Day Two

2:30pm – 5:00pm
North Eastern Brewers Cup: Compulsory

5:30pm – 6:00pm
Announce Finalists for North Eastern Brewers Cup

8:00pm – 12:00am
Big East Dance Party
Held at The Armory
Shuttle service provided to and from the Hilton Garden Inn regularly for the duration of the party.

Sunday, January 19

8:15am – 11:00am
North Eastern Brewers Cup: Open Service

11:00am – 2:30pm
BGA Cafe open

11:30am – 1:30pm
NE Barista & SE Barista Competition: Day Three

1:30pm – 2:00pm
Awards Ceremony

2:00pm – 2:30pm
Competitors Review Score Sheets With Judges

3:00pm
Event close

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen 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.