Mike Marquard of Kaldi’s Coffee in St. Louis is the new Midwest Regional Barista Champion—cheers to you, Mike!
You will no doubt remember Mike for breaking into the finals at arguably the toughest United States Barista Championship to date, which was held in Portland, Ore., in March of 2009. Mike did an awesome job in that competition—not only was his coffee stellar, but he won the audience over with his humility, professionalism and wit. I still remember how he told his judges about how, upon coming to Portland for the first time, he was intimidated because Portland has such a strong reputation for coffee and barista excellence. He said it was the best surprise in the world to find out, as he visited shop after shop, that the baristas in Portland were friendly and welcoming. He said he felt right at home here in the Northwest, and he thanked Portland for giving him such a warm reception. I thought it was a very sweet and genuine thing for him to say, and I liked him immediately, though I’d only just met him.
So when I heard that he’d taken the big win at the Midwest Regional Barista Competition this past weekend, I was stoked. The competition was pretty tough though—the Midwest is traditionally one of the best in the country, and all the competitiors and finalists deserve a big congratulations for a job well done. Thanks also to Kaldi’s, who hosted the competition for the second year in a row and did a totally awesome job of it.
We at Barista Magazine can’t wait to see Mike rock it at the United States Barista Championship next April in Anaheim! Great job, Mike!