It's coffee competition season in the U.S., which means baristas from all corners of the country are gathering together at regional meets to perform their craft in front of judges who will consider technique, timing, form, and taste in a variety of common and not-so-common coffee-based beverages.
Last night, the winners of the Big Western Regional were announced. Charles Babinski of LA's G&B Coffee won the title of best barista in the Southwestern U.S., and Sam Schroeder of Olympia, Wash.'s Olympia Coffee Roasting Company won in the Northwestern division. Babinski's signature drink, El Ocotillo, combines coffee, espresso, pine tree honey, spiced juniper syrup, and reduced grapefruit juice. Schroeder's served judges an espresso alongside "a black tea and lemon 'drinking custard.'"
Regional meets will continue through the end of the year, leading to next year's World Barista Championship 2015.