Written By Jessica Percifield
Photos By Jared Armijo-Wardle
It was a beautiful evening like any other on a busy street in the heart of San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. However, something was clearly afoot as Young Hickory began to quake with a crowd that spilled over into the streets. Maybe it was the Golden Road beer special, but something had this crowd rosy-cheeked and smiling. Twenty-three baristas came out to compete for cash and prizes, but only a few would go home victorious.
The judges that night were looking for aesthetic execution that evening over technical difficulty. Some played to this while others took risks that led some to the top four, and some to defeat. The sitting judges that evening were John Rippo of The Espresso, Yessi Viollota of InterAmerican Coffee, and John Vallas of The Swell Café in San Diego’s Mission Beach community.
Pour after pour, it became clear that it was probably the Golden Road that had a few baristas buzzing, and not just the Bolivian-Raul Mamani that Bird Rock Coffee Roasters brought in that evening for the brew bar, although, that chocolaty aroma had me buzzing, but I digress.
It was an evening of upsets and some new blood proved victorious. Coming in fourth was a visiting barista from NYC’s Everyman Espresso, Lanny Huang. Third place went to Carli Mitchell of Young Hickory. And second place was won by Joshua Bonner, currently leading in total points overall. In the final pour against Bonner, Adrianna Uriostegui of Café Moto took first with a carefully executed tulip in a 10 ounce cup. This was her first time in the top 4 for the season. Bonner went for difficulty with a free pour, and in the end, the judges chose aesthetics. It was a tough competition, which should make the Finale at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters on April 17, a very interesting watch indeed.