Great Lakes Barista Competition

On February 20-22, Chicago hosted Coffeefest, the National Latte Art Competition, and the Great Lakes Barista Competition. This exciting event was filled with baristas, roasters, coffee shop owners, and anyone else in the coffee world. If you are a coffee fanatic this was the place to be!
The most exciting part of the weekend was the Barista Competition where friends of Vienna Coffee Company, Les Stoneham, Courtney Robinson, and Logan Demmy competed. In this competition baristas have 15 minutes to make 4 espressos, 4 lattes, and 4 signature drinks for each of the 4 sensory judges while being judged by 3 other judges on technical skills and style. This is no easy task. The barista has control over everything including the music being played, the table decorations, the grinder, the milk, the ingredients, the espresso, etc. The only constant is the espresso machine.

Les Stoneham had the drink, barista skills, and style that blew the judges away getting him into the finals. (in fact his score puts him in the top 10 baristas in the nation!) His award-winning signature drink that will lead him to Portland for the National Barista Competition was comprised of espresso with reduced Cabernet grape juice and hazelnut cream infused with blue cheese smoked over hazelnut shells. His inspiration for this drink was the idea of using food pairings. For example, certain wines and cheeses are paired together to bring out all the right tannins and emphasize the taste. In the same vein he wanted to use the cheese, cream, and grape juice to bring out all of the nuances from his special espresso.

Les wasn't the only one that scored high in the competition. Former trainee, Courtney Robinson's technical skills and drink won her her best score out of the four previous times she has competed. Her signature espresso drink included blood orange simple syrup with soda water and espresso placed in a martini styled glass with a dollop of juniper berry whipped cream that is stirred into the drink by the judges. Her drink was not only great, but she also received almost perfect scores for her technical barista skills!

Logan Demmy, also trained by Les, shined in his first barista competition and scored exceptionally high! His drink of anise infused tapioca and espresso in a delicate glass and rimmed with cardamom and honey whipped coconut milk had strong marks by the judges. He definitely looked comfortable on the barista stage like he belonged there all along.

At this time we want to wish Les and Courtney the best of luck at Nationals!

If you have any questions about Coffeefest, barista competitions, latte art, or barista training please email us at

If you are looking for the weekly deal please look at last Thursday's post. That deal is still in affect this week.