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Ferris Coffee & Nut barista competes in USCC Brewer's Cup qualifier

Head barista Dan Shoup successfully prepared coffees to present to three judges to earn a spot at the U.S.Coffee Championship in April.
Shoup pours his brews for the three judges.

Shoup pours his brews for the three judges. /James Fry

Shoup introduces himself and presents his brews, including the origin of the coffee used.

Shoup introduces himself and presents his brews, including the origin of the coffee used. /James Fry

Head barista of Ferris Coffee & Nut, Dan Shoup, competed in the United States Coffee Championships (USCC) Brewer's Cup (USBrC) qualifier earlier this month in Kansas City after preparing for three months. While Ferris's Head Trainer AJ Willett competed in the Barista Championship, Shoup showed his skill while presenting his brew to three judges with hope of moving on from regional competition to the national championship.

The first day of the four day Brewer's Cup held 50 competitors brewing roasts determined in advance. Though Shoup's favorite drink to prepare is a cappucino, he worked with Ferris to decide on brewing Costa Rica's Finca Leoncio. Before the qualifer Shoup had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and meet the producer of this coffee to learn more about the coffee's origins to present in his open service routine for the judges. 

"The coffee wouldn't be what it is without the people who produced it and what a great job they did," says Shoup, "My goal is to tell their story and add a human element to [the coffee]."

Before competing, Shoup thought the toughest part of his first competition, the qualifiers, would be remembering his talking points "while brewing the best cup" of coffee the way he wants. However, Shoup came to find his largest obstacle was blocking out the audience and other competitors doing their routines in the unanticipated large room to focus on his own brew.

Over the last three years, Ferris and its team has "pushed into high-quality cofee" with the roasts they brew and how they brew.

"We want people to know that Ferris is a specialty coffee brewer," says Shoup, who has been with Ferris for two years but has been working with coffee for five.

In a blind taste test, the judges evaluated Shoup's specialty coffee brew for flavor, aroma/fragrance and overall presentation. As of day one in the qualifiers, Shoup was in 5th place. 

After brewing their chosen coffee for the first day of qualifers in open service, the USCC gave each competitor a mystery coffee for them to prepare for compulsary service the next day.

"We were never told [what coffee it was]," says Shoup, "But we are guessing it was Guatemala or maybe El Salvador."

After brewing the mystery coffee and the other competitors presented their brews, Shoup had dropped to 9th place. Shoup says he believed he performed successfully.

"I was able to taste how [the coffee] turned out and I was really happy with that," says Shoup who was able to taste other comeptitors' coffees in the Barista's Guild Cafe.

While the top six from each region of the country - east and west -  automatically move on to competing in the nationals in Atlanta, GA, only 24 other baristas with the highest scores get to move on. Shoup came in 28th place overall in the competition of 50 and will be competing in the initial round of the USBrC.

"The relationships in our community coffee allows us to make is what's really rewarding to me," says Shoup.

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