J.René Coffee Roasters

An Artisanal Coffee Gathering Place

J.René Coffee Roasters to compete at the Big Eastern USBC

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Every year, baristas from all over the world train to showcase their skills with the hope of being named World Barista Champion. Where does this training begin? It begins right at home. In the United States, it often begins with competing in their regional competition; and in our region, it’s the Big Eastern. Competitors will have fifteen minutes to present three sets of espresso-based drinks: four espressos, four cappuccinos, and four of the barista’s own signature drinks. Seven judges will score the barista, four on sensory experience, two on technical skills, and one final head judge. The four sensory judges will focus on the balance, flavor, mouth-feel, and presentation of the beverages, with variation depending on which of the three espresso-based drinks it is. The two technical judges focus on the cleanliness and hygiene, waste management, and technical skills of the barista during the presentation. Finally, the head judge oversees every element of the presentation, from technical to sensory.

The first and second place winners of the each US regional competition will automatically advance to the semi-final round.  Those baristas who place third to sixth in the regionals will be offered a place in the quarter-final round of the US Barista Championship.

Jesús Orlando Gómez, Barista

Jesús Orlando Gómez, Barista

J.René Coffee Roasters is pleased to have its senior barista, Jesús Orlando Gómez, competing in the Big Eastern in Durham, North Carolina from January 17-19. Jesús began his barista career in 2009. Since then, he has competed five times, placing each time. In 2010 he took first place at the Puerto Rico 2010 Barista Championship. Then in 2012, he earned himself first place in Puerto Rico’s Latte Art Championship. That year, as well as 2013, he placed third in the Barista Championship. Finally, his latte art championship of 2012 earned him a place at the World Latte Art Championship in Seoul, Korea, where he placed 19th in the world!

So, how did Jesús end up making Connecticut his home? Well, Jesús has known René for almost his entire career. Back in 2012, just before Jesús left for the World Latte Art Championship in Seoul, South Korea, René offered him the opportunity to visit the shop and see what he thought of it. Anyone who talks to Jesús about this knows Jesús’ infamous response: he fell in love. Fast-forward to today and any customer who walks through the doors of J.René Coffee Roasters is greeted with the smiling face of Jesús, who is more than happy to share his immense knowledge of and overwhelming passion for coffee.

Jesús preparing a Macchiato

Jesús preparing a Macchiato

For the past few months, Jesús has been spending time after hours at the shop, and even on his days off preparing for the upcoming competition. He has spent countless hours working with different members of the J.René team perfecting every detail of his presentation, whether it be picking just the right music to accompany his presentation with Geoff Brown, picking the right equipment and working out the creative elements with Marie Engel, or training with Shane Richardson. When asked how he’s feeling about the competition, Jesús says, “I’m definitely excited. I have competed before, but for me, this is just starting new for so many different reasons. The scale is bigger now. In Puerto Rico, we were 14 competitors tops, now we’re 40, per region! It’s bigger, you have to prepare better, it’s a huge change. I’m super excited about the challenge.”

Jesús will be competing with a Full City roast Brazil. This coffee is a pulped natural, Yellow Catuai cultivar. The coffee has a distinct round, smooth mouth-feel. Subtle notes of toasted almonds, cherries, and caramel are tasted throughout the cup, with a strong finish of dark chocolate. Sweetness can also be perceived throughout the cup. So, what will Jesús do with this coffee to create his signature drink? “ Imagine a painter trying to highlight the best attributes of somebody in the painting. I’m just trying to do the same with my coffee,” is all he will say.

Given his strong history in competing, it only makes sense to ask Jesús what his plans are for the future. According to him, it may be time to explore new areas of interest within coffee. He loves competing and is grateful for every experience he has had, but 2014 may be his last year as a barista competitor. Jesús looks forward to extending his knowledge beyond the espresso machine.  Instead, he wishes to  develop a deeper understanding of coffee from the seed through the whole roasting process. “I’m hoping to pass the mantle on to another barista. We have several at our shop who share the same passion as I do, and I look forward to sharing everything I’ve learned with them. I would love to participate in the competitions, but from a different perspective. Maybe as a judge.”  

We want to wish Jesús great success as he embarks on his journey to the USBC.  Best of luck Jesús!!!   AUTHOR: Reed Haight