From the Mind of USBC Finalist Charlie Habegger

Charlie took sixth place at what was perhaps the most competitive USBC ever—congratulations, Charlie!

When the ranking for the 2013 United States Barista Championship had been announced, the finalists looked just exhausted, so we wanted to give them some space to be with their friends and family, and decompress. Since then, I’ve been able to chat with all six of them about what was going through their head during the final round of the 2013 USBC. Today through Saturday, we’ll be posting these short Q&As with each of the six finalists, one per day. We hope you enjoy getting inside the heads of these coffee masterminds as much as I did.

CHARLIE HABEGGER
INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE
CHICAGO

Charlie came to the competition with a pretty cool line on his resume besides barista: green buyer!

Charlie came to the competition with a pretty cool line on his resume besides barista: green buyer!

Sarah: Hi Charlie! Congratulations on an awesome performance at the USBC! Now that you’ve had some time to decompress, how do you feel it all went?

Charlie: Being a finalist was a thrill and an honor. The entire 24 hours between announcements I couldn’t believe I was contributing to such a seriously respected and experienced group of competitors. I’m a little torn because while I enjoyed every minute of my performance, it was the least exact run of any round this year, which is hard to accept personally since the finals round is, in a way, the most important. The essence of competition though, to me, is ideas, and the wind-down on Sunday night was a pretty inspiring night of conversation that erased any mixed feelings I had about time and points. The season overall feels like a big accomplishment.

Sarah: It should feel that way—you were amazing, from the prelims to the finals. But if you could go back and change anything, would you?

Charlie: Why would I change anything? I was proud of my coffee, believed in my presentation, worked hard on my place settings, dug the music, and was surrounded by people who were watching and listening hard. I don’t think there’s anything that should be different; I think that’s a pretty ultimate experience.

Charlie took sixth place at what was perhaps the most competitive USBC ever—congratulations, Charlie!

Charlie took sixth place at what was perhaps the most competitive USBC ever—congratulations, Charlie!

Sarah: It’s pretty awesome that you’re a green buyer and a barista. Tell us about the coffee you used at the USBC.

Charlie: I was using our Tres Santos Colombia, which at the time was a lot of coffee built from the San Sebastian and San Gabriel farms in San Agustin, Huila. At Intelli we use what we call “marks”, which are titles given to sourcing projects in different countries. So different farms/lots from Colombia will move through the Tres Santos mark, and while the title stays the same, all of the specs on the bag and the story on the website will change with the coffee. This helps to not overwhelm customers with rapidly changing names and titles.

 

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Charlie! And congratulations on bringing something totally new to the USBC.

And that, folks, wraps up our interviews with the six finalists about how they feel about the final round of the USBC in retrospect. Thanks for reading!

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.