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Winner, Winner: Olympia Coffee Takes Two 1st-Place Spots at U.S. Coffee Championships

Posted by Lori Bailey on

In a weekend abuzz with the nation’s most prestigious coffee competitions, Olympia Coffee showed up strong and took not one, but two first-place wins in the 2023 U.S. Coffee Championships!

In the U.S. Coffee in Good Spirits Championship, Olympia Coffee co-founder Sam Schroeder took the top spot. And, in the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship, roaster and green coffee buyer Jake Donaghy nabbed first place with a perfect score sheet and the fastest time.

Sam competes in the Coffee in Good Spirits Championship

The Coffee in Good Spirits Championship tests the limits of both coffee and cocktails, and Sam showed off his mastery of both mixology and coffee craft. After qualifying in 2019, Sam’s competitive journey took a break during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He finally made his long-awaited return this year for the championships, delivering three out-of-this-world coffee cocktails to garner first place. The showstopper: a mind-blowing concoction in a glass ice cream cone with a frozen CO2-and-cream bubble on top. We're still picking our jaws up off the floor.

Sam's signature cold cocktail in a practice run at Olympia Coffee
Meanwhile, Jake competed in the Cup Tasters Championship, a fast-paced competition that asks contestants to achieve the highest tasting accuracy in the shortest possible time. The fastest of all the competitions, Cup Tasters is perhaps the most unexpectedly heart-pounding, as a few short minutes of tension build up to the final grand reveal. In each round, Jake was presented with eight sets of “triangulations”: three cups in which he had to correctly taste which cup was compromised in some way. Which he did, identifying three rounds of eight sets with lightning precision and polishing off his clean sheet with a winning time of 2:22.

Jake competing in the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship
Reyna Callejo, our Training and Innovation Director, also competed this past weekend in the insanely-ambitious U.S. Barista Championships — arguably the highest-profile and most stress-inducing competition in the USCC. Months of preparing an extraordinarily exacting routine advanced her to the semifinal round of the USBC, landing her among the top 18 baristas in the nation! We couldn't be prouder of Reyna and of her unfailingly supportive coaches: Alan, her husband, and Nikki, our Retail Director.

Reyna competing in the U.S. Barista Championships

And might we mention another top spot that went to one of our team? Honor Forte, our Wholesale Director, was appointed Head Judge of the Finals round of the U.S. Barista Championship. He was selected for the role by the U.S. Barista Competition Committee, of which he has been a member since 2019 (along with being a certified Head Judge). This is a huge accomplishment for Honor, and we're ever in awe of the hard work and professionalism that have gotten him to where he is.

Honor judging the U.S. Barista Competition

And what's more...

We brought a whole team of winners to the Specialty Coffee Expo floor, where our amazing crew brewed up good conversation and great coffee amid the year's biggest gathering of the specialty coffee community in the U.S. Whether meeting new faces, connecting with old friends, or cheering on our folks in competition, we had an absolute blast. Huge thanks to our industry friends for having us at their booths, and thanks too to the Specialty Coffee Association for another incredible Expo!

Nikki and Rachel dialing in at Created Co.

Peter and Patrick brewing Big Truck at by Breville

What's next?

For now, it's back to business as usual — with a healthy amount of celebration and rest in the mix, of course. Then, for our continuing competitors, there'll be more excitement to come later this year. Sam’s win advances him to the World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship, which will take place this fall in Taiwan. And, as the nation’s top coffee taster, Jake will represent the U.S. in the World Cup Tasters Championship in Greece in June.

Follow along here on the blog for updates, as well as on social media @olympiacoffee! And join us in applauding our incredible competitors, along with the many folks from Olympia Coffee who have supported them along the way. Teamwork makes the dream work, they say — and if this isn't a real-life dream, we don't know what is.

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