There’s been quite a bit of excitement here at The Roasterie the past few weeks and much of it has been due to the addition of a United States Latte Art Champion to our team! While Simeon Bricker has been a part of Team Roasterie for a few years, he was recently named the first ever United States Latte Art Champion and will go on to represent the United States in the World Latte Art Championship at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo in Australia. Before he heads to the land down under, Simeon took some time to reflect on the past few weeks. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out his posts on SCAA 2014 Days 1, 2 & 3.
I can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since I finished my time at the Event by SCAA in Seattle. The last day (April 27) was a blur, a whirlwind of worry and a multitude of emotion. After three days of competition the Coffee Championship Arena was winding down and awaiting the announcements of the champions from the four championships that had taken place over the weekend. The top 6 in Brewers Championship and the top 6 in Barista Championship still had to deliver a final round. For many these are the most exciting presentations of the weekend. For me it was just a delay to know the results of the Latte Art Championship that had concluded the day before. I distracted myself in as many ways as I could but I was incredibly excited by the idea that maybe I had accumulated enough points, just maybe it would be enough. I visited Vivace (it’s pronounced Vi-vå-ché) Café and had an incredible cappuccino which had me thinking about my free pour lattes, I watched Nora Brady give an incredible finals round routine and just thought of how sloppy mine must have seemed. The whole day dragged and everything kept bringing me back to the unknown score on a sheet of paper somewhere.
After the Brewers and Barista finalists finished (behind schedule) it was time for the All Stars Challenge. Which was very amusing, but only a little distracting. Then it was time to announce the champions. First up was Cup Tasters. We already knew who won as the results are direct from the competition stage so this was just a ceremonial announcement. At last it was time to announce the USLAC winner. Five of the six finalists lined up on stage and one by one they called out our names. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear my name at any point in that order but when they got to second place and called our Eugene it was then I realized mine was the only one left to call. I looked over at Dean, who had been a part of this journey from the beginning, he had the biggest smile on his face. I felt a flood of surprise and relief and swelled with excitement. Wow! What a moment! What followed is a blur, after many hugs and an interview suddenly I found myself charging my phone and packing up all my stuff as the stage and all the banners were being torn down. My phone exploded with messages and notifications and I didn’t have a chance to read them until I got on the train to my hotel. I finally got on the train and found myself alone and able to process, and yet it would be several days before it hit me how incredible this was. It was an incredible joy and a huge honor to be the first United States Latte Art Champion.
The week wasn’t over yet. The Event always ends with the Barista Guild of America party. This years party was at Trinity Night Club not far from the convention center. After months of preparation and frustration and three days of intense competitions, it’s time for everyone to relax and celebrate. I can honestly say that night was a highlight, it was the only way to react to such an amazing experience. We danced the night away in abandonment. Got to have some last conversations with folks and even ran into our new Barista Champion, Laila Ghambar. Then I grabbed a cab to the hotel, slept for a couple hours and headed off to catch my flight back to KC.
What an amazing finish to the weekend!
Tomorrow (May 10) I am leaving for Australia to compete in the World Latte Art Championship. I’ve received a huge amount of support from The Roasterie, About the Coffee, Dean, and the whole KC coffee community as well as my friends and family. I am excited for this opportunity to adventure and compete and grow as a barista and as an individual. I’m blessed to have this opportunity and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Stay tuned for updates from “Down Under”.