Durham, N.C. — The Triangle is going to be the center of the east coast coffee scene this weekend. The “Big Eastern” US Coffee Championships, hosted by Counter Culture Coffee and Wilbur Curtis Coffee Co., returns to Durham and takes place at the Durham Convention Center this Friday through Sunday.
Produced by the Barista Guild of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of American, the event has two divisions: the Barista Competition and the Brewers Cup, both platforms for baristas to exhibit their individual pursuits of excellent coffee.
Open to the public and free to attend, the Big Eastern will host several opportunities for attendees to learn more about the world of specialty coffee and taste coffees from local roasters. In addition to the competition, the Barista Guild will have a pop-up café that will feature rotating coffees from top roasters including Counter Culture, Octane Coffee, Slingshot Coffee, and others.
The Big Eastern encompasses 21 states across the eastern seaboard drawing baristas from up and down the coast. Competitors train months in advance. They spend countless hours developing their own "signature drinks" and presentation styles, taking great care in selecting their coffees, brewing devices, music selection and perfecting their presentation techniques in hopes of impressing the judges and securing the regional title.
The field of talented competitors is vast. There are a total of 46 entries in the barista competition and 32 participants in the Brewers Cup. Winners will be selected for both the northeast and southeast regions. Along with bragging rights, the winners are awarded a slew of cool coffee gear and more importantly earn a shot to compete at the U.S. Barista Championship in Long Beach, Calif., this February.
Brewers Cup Competition
The Brewers Cup portion of the competition has a more traditional feel as it celebrates the fine art of manual coffee brewing. Competitors are judged in two rounds by a panel of three coffee judges. Round one is a blind tasting with all of the competitors brewing the same coffee on their chosen manual deceives, like the classic pour over method. Those who advance to the second round brew and present their own chosen coffee to the judges’ panel on the second day of the competition, where they are judged not only on the coffee but their presentation.
The Barista Competition is organized a little differently from the brewers cup and focuses specifically on espresso drinks. The regional barista competitions include performances from professional baristas over a three-day event. In this competition baristas give a 15-minute presentation in which they prepare and serve three courses of espresso based beverages to a panel of four sensory judges, two technical judges and one head judge. The three courses encompass: serving four espressos, four cappuccinos, and four signature drinks. A signature beverage is a highly innovative, freestyle espresso-based beverage created by the barista for the competition.
So whether you’re an experienced coffee enthusiast or new to specialty coffee, this weekend has a lot to offer for coffee fans looking to learn more about the craft and the world of coffee competitions. These events are fun to attend and of course your local baristas always appreciate the support from the local coffee community. For more information about the Big Eastern coffee competition visit their website.