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.
NEW YORK CITY
Sarah: Man, oh, man did you have the audience hanging on your every word during the finals or what?? How did it feel for you?
Sam: I felt the performance itself went very well. My cappuccino pours were a little shaky, but everything else came together nicely. I’ve had a ton of fun doing that routine throughout the season, and never more so than on finals day.
Sarah: Is there anything you wish you could go back and do over?
Sam: The major hiccup in my routine came during prep time. I ended up having to make a blind grind adjustment at the very end. While it was the correct one, it wasn’t quite enough, and the balance of my drinks suffered.
Sarah: Please tell us about that coffee you used…
Sam: I competed using a coffee from the Mpmeba washing station in Burundi, roasted by Counter Culture, the same coffee which I used at Northeast Regionals. I chose it, frankly, because it’s just unbelievably good—maybe the best thing I’ve had out of a portafilter in the last year. It’s pretty close to being my ideal espresso, in fact: deeply sweet, extraordinarily dynamic and complex, really nicely balanced, and with great presence in milk.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Sam! And thanks for the amazing performance you gave at the USBC. As the Northeast Regional Barista Champ, you repped for your region amazingly!
Stay tuned for our next one-on-one post-competition interview with another USBC finalist tomorrow…