Blacksmith owner-barista David Buehrer is in Minneapolis this weekend to compete alongside 35 others in the Central Regional Barista Competition. The prestigious beverage competition is put on by the Specialty Coffee Association of America, which serves as the governing body of the national United States Coffee Championship.
The talented Greenway Coffee extraordinaire has been using the past few weeks to host mock competitions in his Westheimer coffee haunt after hours. The funds attendees have donated to participate in the practice trials have helped foot the bill for the $3,500 it costs to send four employees — including John Letoto as a judge — to the out-of-state competition.
“The practice format we've been using has helped us get ready for the competition, but at the end of the day what we're really hoping to do is recreate the Blacksmith experience in Minneapolis,” Buehrer says. "We’ve always focused on developing a relationship with coffee and bridging that over to our customers.
"At the end of the day what we're really hoping to do is recreate the Blacksmith experience in Minneapolis."
"The support we’ve felt from the community since day one has been amazing. So many people are sending love with us to Minneapolis.”
Indeed, Blacksmith has garnered a lot of adoration in recent weeks — including winning the Houston Culinary Award for best coffeehouse and earning a mention in Grub Street’s 58 Awesome Coffee Shops.
“We could have never expected things to turn out the way that they have, but it’s been awesome to see it unfold,” Buehrer says.
Buehrer and his co-worker Mike Stevenson will be competing in the Barista section of the competition, which takes place on Saturday and requires competitors to prepare and serve a dozen coffee beverages — four espressos, four cappuccinos and four self-created trademark beverages — within a 15-minute window with an additional 30 minutes for setup and cleanup. If Buehrer or Stevenson do place in the top six, they'll move on to the national competition, which takes place in April.
Those who want to watch the competition will have the chance to do so via Livestream at Blacksmith on Saturday. The bustling coffee haunt will be hosting a viewing party in the afternoon so attendees can cheer on as the Montrose baristas participate in the caffeine challenge. Buerher competes at 12:04 p.m. on Saturday and Stevenson competes at 4:03 p.m., so make your viewing plans accordingly.
"We're definitely nervous and excited," Buehrer admits. "But this is something we prepare for every day."