Off we go to Anaheim!

Ken and I are busy busy busy getting ready for the myriad events surrounding the Specialty Coffee Association of America show this week in Anaheim, California. Most exciting, of course, will be the United States Barista Championship (USBC), which will find so many elite baristas in one ring, we can hardly wait to see ‘em bring it.

Mike Phillips, who just won the Great Lakes Regional Barista Competition, and is the reigning U.S. Barista Champion, will try for the national title again this weekend in Anaheim.

I will attend Symposium for the first time this year, and I look forward to hearing some deep conversations about hot topics in the industry right now, from the hunger crisis in coffee communities in Mesoamerica, to the continuing lack of transparency struggles with coffee exports from Ethiopia, to a whole segment on the exponential growth of the single serve market.

I’m also stoked to see keynote speaker, Arianna Huffington, of the internationally renowned Huffington Post, at the opening ceremonies. Then the baristas will turn up the volume with a real Thursday Night Throwdown, ballroom style, yo!

Think we can get Arianna to throw down some latte art? Stranger things have happened...

The USBC kicks off with two days of preliminary competition on Thursday and Friday. This year’s roster of baristas is seriously cream of the crop, given that, for the first time ever, finalists in the nine U.S. regional competitions were given first dibs for spots in the prelim round, leaving only a few spots for those who didn’t place as high. Our nine regional barista champs will take the stage with the semifinalists on Saturday, and the final six will duke it out on Sunday for the title of 2010 United States Barista Champion, and the honor of representing the States at the World Barista Championship in London in June.

Mike Marquard, above, of Kaldi's Coffee in St. Louis, is the Midwest Regional Barista Champion. He'll be one to watch this year, as he already made it to the finals once, at last year's USBC.

We’re really excited to see the second installment of the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship, as well as the Canadian Cup Tasting Championship, both taking place on a stage adjacent to the USBC.

Ben Kaminsky won the U.S. Cup Tasting Championship in 2009.

The Barista Guild of America Cafe, where BGA members and USBC competitors will be making awesome coffee from tons of different roasters on a variety of types of equipment, from a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia like the competitors in the USBC are using, to Hario, Chemex and more.

Intelligentsia will resurrect the buses they hired a few years back when they shuttled everyone from the Long Beach Convention Center to their Roasting Works in L.A., for a similar event: pile on the buses on Friday evening and head out to Intelli’s “Escape from Anaheim” party. Here be the deets:

Saturday night will be the always awesome Roasters Guild party, and Sunday you can clap the new USBC Champ on the back at the BGA/USBC party (remember: you have to be a BGA member to get into this party with your plus one; or you can sign up for a membership at the door).

That’s not even mentioning all the cool workshops and seminars going on all weekend, including one I’m pretty stoked to be a part of called “I’ll have Twitter & YouTube in My Coffee,” where I will explore branding through social media along with Matt from Barista Exchange, and David from Equator Coffee, in a panel organized by BUNN.

So much to do! It should be a fun filled week in sunny SoCal. Please check back here for blog updates throughout the event!

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.