NERBC Barista Preview: Rose-Emma Lunderman

With the North East Regional Barista Championship coming up quickly, we’re offering a sneak peek into the activities at our training lab in Ozone Park. As the city’s finest baristas gear up to compete for the title of best in the region, it’s time to practice, practice, and practice—with the occasional break to answer questions for our blog.

Today we chat with Rose-Emma Lunderman of Brooklyn’s Root Hill Cafe.

Where do you work and how long have you been in coffee?

I work at Root Hill Café in Gowanus. I’ve been there for 1 year, and trained to be a barista about 8 months ago, with Teresa.

What made you decide to compete in the NERBC?

Teresa came in to check in on me at the café one day, and asked if I was interested. The idea terrified me, so I decided to go for it. Coffee is still very new to me, but what better way to put what I’ve learned to the test, and really tune up my craft? And on top of it all I get to spend hours at Dallis and with incredibly talented baristas.

What coffee did you choose to work with and why?

I’ve chosen to work with a blend: The Dominican El Lagulito as well as The Brazilian from Lot #5. The brightness and fruity “wow” of the Lagulito had me hooked right away. Although I loved the Dominican off the bat, I wanted to mellow it out with some savory, rich elements. I wanted to use a coffee from the Dallis farm, and I found the #5 mellowed out the grapefruit of the Domincan. The #5 has a beautiful cherry tobacco aspect that I just couldn’t pass up on playing with.

What can you tell us about your signature drink?

It is in the making! I’ve got the core ingredients, and am now playing with how I combine them.

What’s your training regimen been like so far?

So far, I’ve been training at the Dallis Lab one or two times a week… soon three. When we head to the lab is when I really get the opportunity to bounce off ideas with some of coffee’s best. I’m truly priveleged to have such a great group to work with. Everyone at Dallis has gone out of their way to answer any questions we’ve had. I couldn’t have asked for better informed and passionate guidance.

Have you been to a competition before? What do you think is rad about it or what excites you about its role in the industry, or your role within the competition and within the greater community?

No, this will be my first time, of what I’m sure will be many. I love the passion and heart that is involved in this business. A year ago I had no idea that any of this existed. And now I have the opportunity to spread what I’ve learned to those who also have not been exposed to the art of this industry. Not only have I been blown away by amazing tasting coffee and spirit, but the people involved are unbelievable. They care about their craft, and I that’s exactly the type of outlet I’m interested in putting my time and effort in.

NERBC Barista Preview: Tommy Green

With the North East Regional Barista Championship coming up quickly, we’re offering a sneak peek into the activities at our training lab in Ozone Park. As the city’s finest baristas gear up to compete for the title of best in the region, it’s time to practice, practice, and practice—with the occasional break to answer questions for our blog.

This week we’re starting off with competitor Tommy Green from Tiny’s Giant.

Where do you work and how long have you been in coffee?

I’m working at Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop in the Lower East Side. Been working in coffee for about 5 months now.

What made you decide to compete in the NERBC?

I was watching some videos of old competitions a year or 2 ago and thought it was pretty interesting. so when the chance was presented to me i decided to dive in head first…also i was only a barista for about 3 months when i made the decision.

What coffee did you choose to work with and why?

i wanted something with a nice red fruit and after cupping a few coffees i chose the Las Amzonas from Honduras. After tasting it on its own it needed something else to round out the bitternesss and really increase the juiciness. After trying 2 or 3 different Kenyans and Ethiopians, I chose to go with the Liquidambar which won the brewers cup last year and is also from Honduras. once blended with the Los Amazonas it gave me right what i was looking for and a little bit more. so I’ve got 2 Honduran coffees that create a juicy red fruit a nice chocolate/slight lemon rind bitterness and have been getting an interesting key lime finish.

What can you tell us about your signature drink?

As far as signature drink I’m still in the process of collecting the parts to make it come to life. as of now I’ve got some puréed raspberry/blueberry and possibly a tiny bit of cream. Still in the early stages

What’s your training regimen been like so far?

I’ve been training since late November/early December at the Dallis training lab, with 3 other great baristas and also the best training staff a guy or gal could want. Once a week and the last 3 weeks have added an extra day in there since the competition is edging near. Basically we’ve been doing time trials and tweaking blends. Also we’ve brought in a lot of interesting foods to taste so we could compare them to bitterness, sweetness, and acidity that we might find in our espresso. And just having fun being crazy weird and nerding out about coffee.

Have you been to a competition before? What do you think is rad about it or what excites you about its role in the industry, or your role within the competition and within the greater community?

I’ve never been to a competition before. I think it’s really great for the industry because the regions best baristas are showcased along with the roasters. with the baristas usually creating the most crazy and delicious drinks that most people wouldn’t think to create in their wildest dreams. 

How to See the NERBC


Dallis Bros. Coffee is pleased to be hosting the 2012 NERBC and Brewer’s Cup in association with the Coffee and Tea Festival in a few short weeks. Planning on attending only the NERBC? Skip the festival admission and watch the competition completely free of charge, as a guest of Dallis Bros. and the United States Barista Championship!

To gain free NERBC admission on our guest list, just fill out this handy form and we’ll have your name at the door for both days of the competition. Please note that if you don’t register for our list in advance, attendees will be required to pay festival admission at the door.

Come on out and cheer on the region’s finest coffee pros!

Training Day

We know professional baristas can sometimes make their jobs look easy — all that tamping and twirling — but to make it to the top of your trade requires practice practice practice. In anticipation of the upcoming North East Regional Barista Championship, great baristas from around New York City have descended upon our Ozone Park coffee factory to taste, train, and perfect their techniques. We’ll be introducing them each to you as the competition draws near, but for now, here’s a little peek at what have become weekly — or more frequent — shenanigans in our training lab.

Witness Rose-Emma Lunderman from Root Hill, Tommy Green from Tiny’s Giant, Justin Schulz from Roberta’s, and Cara Vince from Think Coffee, all honing their routines under the wary eyes of competition certified judge Teresa von Fuchs and the Dallis Bros. crew. All these hot tickets are using Dallis Bros. coffee — and we couldn’t be prouder. Stay tuned to this space for more on what you’ll see on the competition floor!

Baristas Gear Up for NERBC 2012!

So you wanna compete, huh? Or just want to learn more about barista competitions and how you can get involved? Come on out to Dallis Bros. Coffee Friday, Nov 11, from 4pm to 6pm for an informal happy hour info session on what you need to know to throw your hat in the ring at the 2012 Northeast Regional Barista Competition.

Reigning Northeast Regional Barista Champion Philip Search, Northeast Brewer’s Cup Champion Erin McCarthy and US Barista Championship judge Dan Streetman will join the Dallis Bros. Coffee crew—to answer questions and talk about the upcoming competition season. Come ask questions, meet other competitors and see what all the fuss is about!

And yes–refreshments will be served. First stop Ozone Park, next stop the World Championships! Click here for directions.

Coffee Director Byron Holcomb and Barista extraordinaire Danielle Glasky hit Brasil

One fateful night many moons ago during the epic NERBC competition here in NYC for the first time a tremendous throwdown and party was held.  Featuring the notorious “wheel of destiny”, baristas faced off mano-a-mano, pouring their hearts out (literally) for a some rather remarkable prizes.

Danielle Glasky, who you can find most days working the bar at Cafe Grumpy, ended up winning when our celebrity panel of judges Dave Arnold, Silvia Magalhães and Kelly Choi picked her pour unanimously. Just this past week Danielle was able to join our Coffee Director Byron Holcomb on her first trip to origin.  The two of them were able to visit our Octavio Cafe brethren in Brasil, and also took a trip north to the Alta Mogiana region where they visited the beautiful Nossa Senhora Aparecida farm.

More updates to come…

NERBC in Edible Magazine

For the First Time in NYC, Baristas Compete on the Quality of a Plain Old Cup of Coffee
Cheryl Chan on The Edible Blog – Edible Manhattan Magazine

See and be USB-seen!

A new day in Houston, TX brought with it sunny skies, a nice breeze and an overwhelming need for bananas.  As the day winds down we’ve witnessed some of the best coffee this great country has to offer.  Whether you came for the semifinals of the prestigious United States Barista Championships,  the same round of the still-fresh Brewers Cup, the immense specialty coffee trade show or any of the other myriad educational, developmental or recreational goings-on at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual Event, attendees had no shortage of coffee geekery to amuse themselves with.

Front and center for The Event was the United States Barista Championship semifinals.  The presentations this year were heavy on the close relationships that modern roasters are developing with the farms they support, and how those relationships benefit an industry in the midst of crisis.  Never before has this industry looked to the coming years with more uncertainty, but also never before has this industry looked to our partners overseas and in distant lands and thought that maybe that distance wasn’t quite as ominous as it ONCE was.  More and more we look towards the future and see not just our shops or our superstar baristi glowing in the halo of glory, but we now see that limelight shared with the farmers, processors and importers that provide us with those sweet, sweet beans that we’ve sworn our lives to.

Amongst the rumblings and hushed but urgent conversation buzzing about the convention space were spoken fears about rising C-Market prices, harsh global swings in supply and demand and the eventual stabilization of global coffee culture.  Are these problems that we as an industry have the ability to change?  What lasting impact will these crises have on the industry as a whole?  Do current coffee prices and demand even leave room for Specialty Coffee.  The answer to all these questions is, of course, a resounding “YES!”

The coffee industry on the whole has seen it’s share of cyclical ups and downs, but that unpredictability simply cannot stand any longer.  With drastically increasing green coffee prices showing no signs of slowing their meteoric rise, retail coffee prices are reaching a critical psychological threshold in the eyes of the consumer that, once passed, demand a greater contribution on the part of all involved in the distribution chain.  That means that growers must grow better coffee, and more of it.  It means that roasters must delve deeper into the science and art of their craft to roast coffees that defy and exceed expectation.  It means that the superstar baristi mentioned above must give their lives to their craft, not just pursuing that elusive perfect cup but achieving it, over and over again.

What’s so special about this years’ USBC is that more than ever, we as an industry are beginning to see these goals come into fruition.  The competitors this year are showing more and more the value of supporting the supply chain to a fault.  Local sourcing, fanatical and loving care for the final cup, an emphasis on hospitality and stewardship to the almighty brown bean are all hallmarks of this competition.

It’s an exciting time for our industry and all the billions around the world that rely on the beverage to add value to their lives.  The bad news is that the future does hold uncertainty.  The good news is that we, as an industry, are intrepidly gearing up to face down the greatest challenge we have ever faced.  The consumer can rest assured that the next few years MUST produce the finest coffees the world has ever seen, or we shall simply cease to be relevant.

And by golly, we all know that can’t happen.

Dallis Bros Coffee is thrilled by the coming challenges we face, but we want to know what the consumers are thinking.  Drop us a line and give us your thoughts.  Leave a comment.  Check out our Twitter and Flickr feeds.  Most importantly, just get involved.  Without the guy or gal on the other end of this whole thing drinking these coffees that we pour our hearts into, there wouldn’t be much of an industry to worry about, would there.

The competition is still in full swing, with a whole other day of finals rounds to look forward to, so keep tuned and let us know what you’re thinking.


See you out there!

Interview with our own USBC Semifinalist Philip Search!

In a little over a week, we’re thrilled to cheer our own Philip Search on to Houston, Texas, where he will compete as a semifinalist in the United States Barista Championship among the best of his profession. Philip took home regional title in this month’s Northeast Regional Barista Competition, and we couldn’t be prouder. We persuaded him to take a break from rigorous training and rehearsal to give the world a bigger preview of what he’ll be doing up there on the USBC stage.

What inspired you to compete in 2011?
I think there are multiple reasons I ended up competing. Every year I go through an internal debate with myself about whether or not I will do this all over again. The truth is though, I love coffee, I love being able to highlight it in this format. It excites me to be able to have unique conversations, and a chance to learn with other coffee professionals. I have to say though, I was truly inspired this competition. It started when I tasted the Liquid Ambar and the Don Mayo in a cupping. They both are compete coffees, unique in their own rights, and totally representative of the work of the families at origin, the cultivars, and the terroir of their regions.
The first time I roasted the Liquid Ambar as espresso, I pulled a shot and we were all floored. Pillowy body, a mind blowing espresso with a unique honey malt flavor I’ve only tasted a few times in 16 years. The Don Mayo was equally impressive. The spice note reminded us all of an Indian curry dessert. These coffees together create a unique combination of flavors that nearly brought me to tears. Completely unique to anything I had ever worked with before. After this, I was hooked. I wanted this coffee, and the risks the farmers took in producing it to be showcased to the world. There were other circumstances that came to light about the coffee. As you know there is a shortage of super high quality coffees in the current market. The coffee from the Don Mayo mill is part of what I believe is a solution to this issue. It is a Villa Sarchi Cultivar, a natural mutation of old Bourbon plants that happened in Costa Rica quite a few years ago. In showing off this coffee as a microlot separated out with its unique cultivar, I hope to encourage farms to begin producing more of this coffee in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica where the climate and soil lend its self to its best potential.
I also enjoy being able to push our industry forward in unique ways. In the past this involved adding special dose control to things like the Anfim grinder. In this case, I wanted to show people a grinder platform that doesn’t have most of the existing flaws of current espresso grinders, and that there is a different way to pull shots even in a tight time frame. I also believe that in life, and all things coffee, we should aspire to our daily tools being functional works of art. This grinder reflects that aesthetic belief.

You use an unusual grinder setup. What is it?
I wanted a grinder that looks good, and avoids a lot of the dosing, heat, and grind spectrum issues of existing espresso grinders.

What goes into your signature drink, and how did you come up with it?
The sig drink is an infusion that mirrors the flavors of the two coffees I used. This allowed me to stretch out the flavor profile and make the complexities of the coffee more accessible. It involves using nitrogen cavitation, a common tool in the arsenal of cutting-edge mixology, to infuse flavors into liquids. I used a slice of orange, grapefruit peel, tamarind, smoked sea salt, sucrinate (dried unprocessed cane juice), raw orange blossom honey, and lapsong souchong tea, and infused this into water. Then I poured this “deconstructed flavor infusion” into champagne flutes and served it alongside the espresso. This helps people better understand the coffee. The cool thing is that, along with each ingredient as a flavor, there is a chemical reason I used them as well, each represent an acid or other chemical piece of the flavor that is in the coffee as espresso. For example, the Don Mayo had a unique tropical flavor from tartaric acid, this was then achieved in the deconstruction using the tamarind.

Do you find it easy to explain “nitrogen cavitation” to people at parties?
Sure! But I can be a bit of a nerd. Nitrogen bubbles are small, and when put with ingredients under pressure, they attach themselves to cell walls and weaken the cells, when you rapidly release this pressure, the cells burst and you have and instant infusion.  Pretty simple really.

Who else are you watching closely in this year’s United States Barista Championship in Houston, TX?
Well, really there are always a lot of great coffee people, and it can be any ones game, But Pete Licata, from Honolulu Coffee, is another long term veteran with a lot of experience. He is solid, and his coffee has a great story.

What are you doing to refine and perfect your routine before you compete in Texas?
Practice, and trying to master the skills of being a coffee whisperer, also trying to get as much time in talking to people about the coffees as possible. This is key for me, because my routine, and everything I do is based more on being a practicing coffee professional than in just a routine for the great game that Barista Competitions are. I desire to be a coffee ambassador, both to the professional community at large, and to customers. That is my passion, and what I live for.


Follow Philip at the USBC on the road to the World Barista Championship this June in Bogota! And follow him personally on Twitter at @phineas984.

Thanks to all of those involved in the NERBC 2011

Congratulations to Philip Search and the Dallis Bros. Coffee team for the victory in the NERBC 2011! See you all at the USBC nationals in Houston, Texas!