SERBC 2005

This weekend Robin and I traveled to Chapel Hill for the finals in the South Eastern Barista Competition. We arrived about 11:30a, enough time to say hello to friends and colleagues before the two hour competitive marathon. Peter, Daryn, Tim, Cindy, and many more faces from [CCC]( “Counter Culture Coffee”) working hard to pull the event off. I had a few moments to speak with David Haddock a judge representing [Bellissimo](, and Tom from [Stockton Graham]( Everyone was wired and ready for a big day.

The finalists for the event were:
* Leng Abed, [Open Eye Cafe](, Carrboro, NC
* Ryan Goodrow, [Murky Coffee](, Arlington, VA
* Lemuel Butler, Daily Grind, Chapel Hill, NC
* Elizabeth Gray, Muddy Waters, Elizabeth City, NC
* Claudia Raymo-Quirk, [Cup A Joe](, Chapel Hill, NC
* Mandy Catron, [Murky Coffee](, Arlington, VA

Every one of these people should be commended for their efforts along with all the others who did not make the final cuts. To get out of your comfort zone, and come in to a competition that requires probably 100% more of your effort than you ever have to give in the shop and then be critically judged on it all. That’s pressure, and it takes guts. Each participant must make 4×4 drinks. Four espresso’s, four cappuccino’s, four specialty drinks. All the while giving a 5-star performance of professionalism in only a 15 minutes. Cake walk right? Hardly. Every step of the way you are being evaluated. As you turn to showcase each set of drinks, technical judges are sweeping in behind you to make sure your gear is still pristine. Four taste judges are critical of your drinks themselves. Then they all have a quiet pow-wow behind closed doors to round out their evaluations with hundreds of points at stake. That’s quite a score card.

In the end, what those of us who were talking thought would win, and those who won, had a bit of a discrepency. However, like Nick Cho of [Murky]( said on his [Portafilter]( podcast, what we see as attendees and what the judges are seeing / tasting will vary greatly. The judges have the entire sensory experience that the audience can’t (or generally doesn’t, depends on the competition) get to participate in. ie: A drink may look phenomenal, but not have the taste characteristics that score high.

SERBC Winners:
* 1st: Lemuel Butler, Daily Grind, Chapel Hill, NC
* 2nd: Leng Abed, [Open Eye Cafe](, Carrboro, NC
* 3rd: Ryan Goodrow, [Murky Coffee](, Arlington, VA

Great to see some regional locals take home the first and second, and as always a good shout out to Nick and his crew for putting on a good show as well. The thing to remember about all these competitors is they come from passionate cafe’s. The owners instill in their employees a sense of pride of what they do. Barista’s at their jobs ranged from 2-8 years and that’s fantastic. I hope that as Caffe Nuance grows up that we can participate and bring home our own title in years to come as we will certainly be educating and enciting passion in our employees and locals.

Thank’s go out to [Counter Culture Coffee](http://www.counterculturecoffee) for hosting the event and the plethora of sponsors that helped make this possible. Like Peter said yesterday, Barista competitions are not mainstream so each of the sponsors are doing this because they are interested in seeing coffee develop.

Lastly, I started a new [flickr]( group, [Barista Competitions]( If you go to these events please add your photos to the pool. Let’s keep these competitions recorded and push them more mainstream.