The next wave of Southern artisans is rising, and the stars come caffeinated and equipped with kettles and milk pitchers. Their masterpieces are rarely more than $4 and their studios always open, just walk into your neighborhood café.
Last weekend we headed to Atlanta for the Southeast Regional Barista Competition & Brewer's Cup for a two-day showdown that recognized baristas, the newest inductees to the craft-food industry. On day one, 28 baristas manned espresso machines in front of a discerning panel, while 13 others competed in the Brewers Cup challenge, which focuses on manually brewed coffee that's nothing like your typical diner drip. Six from each category poured and pulled into Saturday’s finals.
Participating baristas got to show off their creativity by concocting a signature beverage (known in the biz as “sig bev”), bringing forth surprises like cigar smoke-infused foam and homemade ginger cotton candy. One of the only two females in the finals, Lindsey Kiser, of Peregrine Espresso in DC took home the coffee crown with her pairing of Counter Culture Coffee's spicy Baroida espresso with the ginger confection. We'll be cheering for Lindsey when she advances to the April Barista Championship in Portland. On the Brewer's Cup front, Matthew Ludwikowski from Atlanta’s own Octane Coffee won with an El Salvadorian coffee and his Chemex scientific coffeemaker.
So, what did this event tell us about coffee culture in the South? Elizabeth Justus, a judge and co-owner of Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro, NC, puts it best. “The walls are torn down here. This community is just extended family.” Around table or cup, like so many Southern traditions, it’s all about congregating and family.
By: Kelsey Snell