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Loyal, Story Coffee baristas head to U.S. Barista Championship

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Story Coffee Company - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Story Coffee Company
Earlier this year, two Colorado Springs coffee mavens went down to Texas to show their stuff. Over the weekend of Feb. 11 and 12, Story Coffee Company (120 E. Bijou St., see Facebook page) barista/roaster Eliza Lovett and Loyal Coffee (408 S. Nevada Ave., 235-5477, see Facebook page) co-owner Tyler Hill went to Austin, Texas, to compete in the regional qualifying round for the U.S. Barista Championship in Seattle, Washington. Lovett and Hill took 12th and 13th place, respectively, ranking in the top 18 and securing their spots in the first of three rounds in the national competition, which runs Friday, April 21, through Sunday, April 23. They’ll be joined by the top 18 from January’s Knoxville, Tennessee regional.

At the Austin competition, each barista had to bring their own beans to prepare an espresso, a cappuccino and a signature drink. Lovett used beans from the Chania estate in Kenya. For her signature drink, she added a simple syrup made from dark brown sugar and fresh-cracked pepper, finishing with a spritz of oolong tea.

Loyal Coffee - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Loyal Coffee

“It was fun to play with this espresso because it had such distinct qualities,” she says, “but it was also such a challenge.” For the Seattle competition, she intends to use it and a unselected Latin American coffee, blending the two for her espresso, but letting the Latin lead on her milk drink and keeping it Kenyan in the signature round.

Hill brought a natural-process Panamanian Geisha coffee to Austin, mixing it with a star anise/chili flake simple syrup he’d infused with Earl Grey tea smoke via a cold smoker. For Seattle, Hill will be using a honey-processed Costa Rican Geisha bean. Honey processing is what happens when part of the coffee cherry is washed off, like a washed-process bean, and the honey-like inner layer is left to dry and fall off, like with a natural-process bean. He was still working on his signature beverage as of this writing.

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