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Looking Back on the Winners of the United States Barista Championship

The United States Barista Championship (USBC) stands as the pinnacle of coffee craftsmanship and artistry, and fewer competitions draw the same attention. This annual competition brings together the nation's most talented baristas, each vying for the coveted title by showcasing their unparalleled skills in the arts of espresso extraction, milk frothing, and creative presentation. The USBC not only crowns a champion each year, but also contributes to the ever-growing narrative of coffee excellence in the nation. But how does one become a champion? What does a former champion do after taking home one of the most prestigious awards in the coffee industry? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at previous winners and what they’ve done after their win at USBC.

2023 Champion: Isaiah Sheese

After competing in the United States Barista Championship eight times, placing in the top 6 each time he took the stage, Isaiah Sheese finally took home a well-deserved first place in 2023. Isaiah also participated in the United States Brewers Cup in 2023, and came in 14th, which is incredibly impressive. Competing at multiple events at the same competition isn’t something we see often, and it is a testament to Isaiah’s love of coffee and education. Isaiah would go on to compete in the 2023 World Barista Championship, and would place fourth during his very first appearance there.

These days, Isaiah lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and is the owner of cafe/roastery Archetype Coffee. Archetype now has three locations, and is a very well-loved roaster by people all over the world. Though he hasn’t said much about what’s next for him in regards to competitions, he has said that he’s very focused on growing Archetype and fostering relationships with the coffee community, and especially with more farmers.

2022 Champion: Morgan Eckroth

In 2022, Morgan Eckroth made tremendous waves in the coffee world by taking home first place at the United States Barista Championships at just 23 and placing as runner-up in the World Barista Championship. Morgan also competed at the 2019 and 2020 USBC, and clinched their win on just their third attempt. Morgan has stated that they have every intention of continuing to compete on both the national and international stages. At the qualifying rounds of the 2024 USBC, we got to watch Morgan take first, meaning that they’ll go on to compete in the USBC finals once again.

After their win at USBC 2022, Morgan joined the incredibly well-known Onyx Coffee Lab as their content marketing specialist. Even before their win on the national coffee stage, Morgan had already solidified themselves as a household name in coffee circles with their short-form content creation on Tik-Tok and Instagram and long-form content on YouTube under the username, “MorganDrinksCoffee”.

These days, Morgan can be found working a couple of days a week as a barista at Keeper Coffee in Portland, Oregon as well as creating content for Onyx Coffee Lab as well as keeping their own content services up and running. When Morgan isn’t working, which isn’t often, they’re usually at home writing, which they’ve said is a nice retreat since it’s one of the only things in their life isn’t currently monetized.

2020 Champion: Andrea Allen

After four years of competing at the United States Barista Championship, two of them earning her second place finishes, Andrea Allen finally got to take home the first place trophy and secure her spot as the United States’ representative on the world stage at WBC in Melbourne, Australia. However, the COVID-19 pandemic turned postponements into cancellations and global venue changes, and everything competition-related changed for Andrea. Finally, after over a year-and-a-half of waiting, Andrea finally got her chance to compete on the world stage, taking the runner-up spot.

If the name Andrea Allen sounds familiar, it’s for a very good reason. She is the co-founder of Onyx Coffee Lab and is head of operations for all five Onyx cafes and for the roastery. Andrea describes the 20-month period between the US Barista Championship and the World Barista Championship as incredibly challenging due to having to help manage Onyx through a global pandemic and deal with supply chain issues, all while waiting for her chance to compete at WBC.

Andrea has also recently helped to launch Doyenne, a project that passionately celebrates the invaluable contributions of women in the specialty coffee industry. While attending a coffee conference in Honduras, Andrea met female coffee producers from South America and was inspired by their stories of resilience, passion, excellence, and hard work. As a woman in the industry, Andrea understood the struggle for respect and legitimacy, and she hopes to use her platform to showcase and amplify the skills of other women.

2002 - 2019 Champions

  • 2019: Samantha Spillman
  • 2018: Cole McBride
  • 2017: Kyle Ramage
  • 2016: Lemuel Butler
  • 2015: Charles Babinski
  • 2014: Laila Ghambari
  • 2013: Pete Licata
  • 2012: Katie Carguilo
  • 2011: Pete Licata
  • 2010: Michael Phillips
  • 2009: Michael Phillips
  • 2008: Kyle Granville
  • 2007: Heather Perry
  • 2006: Matt Riddle
  • 2005: Phuong Tran/Bronwen Serna
  • 2003: Heather Perry
  • 2002: Dismas Smith

The United States Barista Championship not only crowns a champion every year, but serves as a testament to the passion, skill, and innovation within the American coffee community. As baristas from coast-to-coast converge on this annual stage, the competition becomes a melting pot of techniques, flavors, and stories. The USBC not only elevates the status of the winning barista but also contributes to the continuous evolution of coffee culture across the nation. With each perfectly pulled shot and meticulously crafted presentation, the USBC reinforces the idea that coffee is not merely a beverage but a canvas for artistic expression, a platform for innovation, and a shared journey that unites coffee enthusiasts in their pursuit of excellence.

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