Weddings, wildfires… what about coffee?

Yes, Ken and I have a good excuse for being a little slow on the pasteboard postings considering we had our wedding last week and also our concern for those plagued by wildfire worries and devastation in Southern California. It’s been a crazy week for all of us in good and bad ways. But one of the best pieces of the craziness has to do with our good friend Lem Butler of Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, N.C., who won the title of Southeast Regional Barista Champ for the second time!! Here he is (dashingly dressed, we must note) holding his flashy trophy.

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We first met Lem back in 2005 when he won the SERBC. His first competition was the 2005 SERBC, and though he didn’t place, he was hooked. Lem has been a barista for four years now, and has a bright future for sure. But he never tires of the back-and-forth between barista and customer that drew him to a career as a coffee pro in the first place. “My favorite thing about being a barista is the delight in a customer’s eyes when they sip their beverage,” Lem told us back in 2006 when we interviewed him for a profile in the 2006 USBC event program. “The least favorite thing about being a barista? Howler monkeys!”

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It’s that awesome sense of humor plus some majorly kick ass barista skills that make us all the more delighted to congratulate Lem here on pasteboard for his efforts at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s SERBC, which took place Oct. 19 through 21 in Clearwater, Florida. Lem emailed me some photos to prove his Barista Mag pride to me, and congratulate me on my recent nups. But I’m the one who should be doing the congratulating: Lem, you’re awesome! What a great guy to kick off the 2007-08 regional barista competition year! We can’t wait to see you at the USBC in Minneapolis next May! Here’s a shot of Lem with his cohorts from Counter Culture:

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We hear the SERBC was a great competition featuring some of the best baristas in the country, so congratulations not only to Lem, but to the fierce competition he faced. Here’s how the finals played out:

1st: Lemuel Butler, Counter Culture Coffee, 695.5 (holy cow!)

2nd: Ben Helfen, Octane Coffee, 683.5 (dude!)
3rd: Danielle Glasky, Octane Coffee, 663.5 (wowsa!)

4th: Katiee Duris, murky coffee, 656.5 (man o man!)

5th: Shannon Hudgens, Coffee & Crema, 620.5 (are there ANY finals scores under 600 points??)

6th: Michelle Rae Bradicich, Pheasant Creek Coffeehouse, 601 (guess not! sooo impressive!)

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Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.