The Ultimate Barista Challenge® USA was once again featured at the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, August 18 – 20, 2007 with 15,000 attendees. The Ultimate Barista Challenge (UBC) consists of four tasty bouts of coffee and espresso challenges: Espresso Frappe, Latte Art, Espresso Cocktails and Best of Brew. Baristi enter and compete in a qualifying round and those who win go on to challenge a designated Ultimate Barista to compete against, in a one-on-one dueling contest of fast-paced espresso excellence. “The UBC is designed to educate, entertain and inspire!” exclaims its creator, Sherri Johns of WholeCup Coffee Consulting, Portland, Oregon.

This year, barista Janelle Bel Isle of Kean Coffee in Newport Beach, CA, won the Latte Art qualifying round, setting off a final showdown with reigning champion Ultimate Barista Ryan Dennhardt, and owner of Barista’s Daily Grind in Kearny, Nebraska. Judges commented on the visual quality of both barista’s latte art and finesse on bar, but it was Dennhardt who maintained his undefeated status in the Latte Art Challenge.

Challenger Mike Richardson, also of Kean Coffee, selected Heather Perry (the two-time National Barista Champion, 2003 and 2007, and Runner Up 2007 International Barista Championship) for the delicious final challenge but Perry prevailed and took home the coveted UBC medal.

Gathered on the esteemed judges’ panel were Ian Knapp, a water specialist from Intrusol; Gary Horne, GEEC and espresso equipment specialist; Andrea Ramirez of Torani; special guest Cliff Young, coffee roaster and IE Coffee Radio Show, from Hawaii; Andrew Hetzel and Head Judge and coffee specialist Sherri Johns.