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Who is the 2007 United States Barista Champion?

Who is the 2007 United States Barista Champion?

The 2007 annual Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) conference was held in Long Beach, California from May 4-7. This is the largest annual trade conference for equipment, coffee, and supplies, and it is also the venue for the annual US Barista Championship (USBC).

The USBC is hosted by Krups, and it runs throughout the conference, with eliminations in the first days, and the final round on the last day of the conference. The USBC recognizes professional achievement in technical skill and artistic flair of espresso beverage preparation and service.

Contestants competed on a three-group La Marzocco espresso machine, and were judged by a panel of seven USBC-certified judges. The panel comprised a head judge, two technical judges, and four sensory judges. Contestants prepared four espressos, four cappuccinos, and four non-alcoholic "signature" drinks of their own creation for the four sensory judges.

They are judged on station cleanliness, taste of the beverages, beverage presentation, technical skills, and overall impression. Contestants are given 15 minutes to adjust their grinds and callibrate their machines, and then must produce and serve their twelve drinks within the subsequent 15-minute interval.

This year's champion, and five runners-up (in order) are:

  1. Heather Perry, Coffee Klatch Roasting, San Dimas, CA
  2. Pete Licata, PT's Coffee Company, Overland Park, KS
  3. Matthew Riddle, Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, IL
  4. Chris Deferio, Carriage House Cafe, Ithaca, NY
  5. Kyle Glanville, Intelligentsia Coffee, Los Angeles, CA
  6. Peter Middlecamp, Black Sheep Coffee, South Saint Paul, MN

Heather Perry, the 2007 US champion received the highest honor and coveted trophy of the USBC, and $1,000 in cash. She received an all-expenses paid trip to the World Barista Championship in Tokyo, Japan, July 31 to August 2, where she represented the US in the World Competition. Heather took 2nd place to James Hoffmann of the UK in the World Chamionships in Tokyo.

Heather hails from San Dimas, California. She is a four-time Western Regional Champion, and two-time US Champion. When asks what drives her to compete, Heather said: "I compete for a few different reasons. First of all, Competing pushes me to new heights and continues to push my limits and make me a better barista Secondly, I love the barista community, and competing is a big part of that community. And lastly, I am competitve and love the thrill of competition."

For this year's competition, Heather chose some subtle and light but lively music, and complemented that mood with a single colorful long-stemmed flower in a vase to create an elegant ambience. Heather set her table with fine linen and and thick, heavy bottomed crystal glasses.

For her espresso, Heather used a three-bean custom blend using a Natural Bourbon bean, and combining it with an Ethiopian and a Sumatran. The Ethiopian bean was chosen for its berry and spice overtones; the Sumatran was used to add richness and body. She updosed slighlty by jiggling the doser handle and following with a quick double downdose tap.

After steaming the milk and texturing it to her satisfaction, Heather used two pitchers to mix and separate the milk so as to even out the foam. Her cappuccinos were prepared with a foam apple design centered within a rich golden ring of crema.

Heather then made her signature drink, which she called "Espresso in the Clouds." For this drink, she used cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger to complement the spiciness of her coffee blend, which she sweetened lightly with sugar. She incorporated the spices by heating them in half and half mixed with whole milk to infuse the milk mixture with mere subtle undertones of the spices.

Heather then made her "cloud" by blending it with lemon and whipped egg-yolk, and straining the mixture into a charger. The subtly spiced feather-light vanilla-lemon-egg foam was then extruded into her tall crystal glasses with the charger. She then slowly poured in espresso using a spoon, and let it fall "through the clouds." The espresso itself settled into a bottom layer, while the crema remained floating on top. This gave her drink, "Espresso in the Clouds," a lovely layered look (see below).

She requested that the judges drink the entire creation so as to get the full mixture of citrus with the subtle infusion of vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, and the natural berry and spice overtones from the coffee blend, all within the cloud-like context of the drink. It contrasted the full body of her espresso blend with the light airiness of whipped egg-yolks. Yum!

Heather Perry's signature drink, "Espresso in the Clouds"

Heather Perry's Signature Drink

Congratulations to Heather from your friends at The Coffee Brewers