National championship for baristas draws little attention from Southwest

Ryan McCullough

The United States barista Southwest regional competition was cancelled due to a lack of participants. The contest only had two baristas from the Southwest, which included Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

Regional competition winners were able to attend nationals for free, but other baristas could still enter.

At the national competition, each competitor had 15 minutes to prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos and four specialty drinks. Competitors were judged on taste, technique, coffee knowledge and cleanliness.

Ashley Mascareno, who works for Cartel Coffee Lab in Tempe, was the only participant from the Phoenix metro area. She competed for her first time.

“My main goal was to get better and learn some things, “Mascareno said.

For her specialty drink, Mascareno made a reduction of butter, basil, nutmeg, white pepper, and fresh Clementine juice. The concoction is then poured into a shot glass along with one shot of espresso.

“It is the fun part but also the tricky part,” Mascareno said.

Mascareno described the environment of the competition as a friendly one.

David Kwon was the other competitor from the southwest. He is employed at Avenue Coffee in Tucson.

Kwon described his 15 minutes as very stressful.

For his specialty drink, Kwon made a strawberry reduction with mesquite honey.

“I thought a lot about Mexican candy,” he said when describing his coffee.

“There is a lot of fellowship.The coolest part was sitting in the back polishing glass while you’re talking to your neighbor about where they’re from and what kind of coffee they’re using,” Kwon said.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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