To be crowned a barista champion at Starbucks, partners (employees) must have extensive coffee knowledge, beverage artistry skills and the ability to bring creativity to beverage creation. A talented group of partners from regions across the country met these qualifications and were selected as the first-ever U.S. Barista Champions at the end of August.
“We see the champions as an extension of Starbucks Coffee Engagement team in Seattle,” said Chad Moore, manager, Starbucks Global Coffee and Tea Education. “We decided to select regional winners instead of one winner, so we would have additional resources for coffee education throughout the country. The idea behind the championships is to celebrate what our baristas do every day.They have a chance to demonstrate their passion and pride for coffee and showcase their skills.”
This week, the U.S. Barista Champions are in Seattle to celebrate their new roles, learn innovative coffee brewing methods, hone their latte art skills and visit local Starbucks locations including Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. Time spent in the Pacific Northwest will prepare the champions for their year-long responsibility of sharing coffee knowledge with other partners and customers, and serving as mentors to next year’s class of champions.
“This entire experience has been phenomenal,” said Christy Wright, a barista champion from California. ”I would like to inspire partners in my area and focus on connecting with customers and building coffee knowledge.”
The U.S. Barista Championships began in mid-February as regional directors held district-level competitions across the country. Semi-finals took place from March through May with more than 100 partners moving forward to the final round of competition, where 18 partners were named champions.
During the finals, partners competed in three categories: Barista Craft, Signature Beverage and Personal Coffee Tastings. Partners showcased their latte art skills, created their own signature beverage using ingredients that currently exist in Starbucks stores and provided a coffee tasting of their choosing.
The 2015 U.S. Barista Champions include: Mark Brenner, Kristen Blum, Austin Childress, Bryce Conrad, Andrew Dorsey, Ivan Rizo-Pineda, Brendan Fitzsimmons, Frank Fletcher, Jacob Hancock, Heather Langley, Brittany Love, Grace McIntosh, Sara Morton, Damien Pacheco, Angela Scalise, Raul Valdes, Lee Walck, Katie Williams and Christy Wright.