Counter Culture Coffee Wins Big At Big Eastern Coffee Competition

J. Park Branen Wins Northeast Regional Barista Competition And Jonathan Bonchak Takes Home Southeast Regional Brewers Cup

New York, NY – This past weekend on Jan. 17th – 19th, around 80 professional baristas and coffee experts from around the country participated in the Big Eastern Coffee Competition in Durham, NC. Two baristas from Counter Culture’s team placed first in their respective disciplines: J. Park Brannen (NYC Customer Representative; New York, NY) won the Northeast Regional Barista Competition, and Jonathan Bonchak (Southeast Regional Sales; Durham, NC) won his second straight Regional Brewers Cup. Park and Jonathan will advance to the U.S. Barista Competition and Brewers Cup in Seattle in April 2014. Twenty-nine baristas competed using Counter Culture’s coffees, and in addition to Park and Jonathan, eight of these competitors made it to the finals. For footage from the weekend, please see the SCAA’s livestream videos, Instagram, or Twitter (#bigeastern).

The Big Eastern Event is one of three Super Regional Coffee Competitions taking place across the country – the Big Western is scheduled for February 21st – 23rd, 2014, in Los Angeles, and the Big Central took place October 25th – 27th, 2013, in Minneapolis. The winners of each competition go on to compete in the U.S. Coffee Championships at the SCAA’s 26th Annual Event, April 24th – 27th, 2014, in Seattle, WA. The winner of each U.S. Coffee Championship moves on to compete in the 2014 World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup in Rimini, Italy, in June 2014. The event was sponsored by Counter Culture Coffee and Dallis Bros. Coffee and produced by the Barista Guild of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA).

At the Barista Competition, baristas competed in front of four sensory judges, two technical judges and one head judge as they prepared and served four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature espresso beverages during a 15-minute race against the clock. Park competed with a natural sundried coffee from Kayanza, Burundi, roasted by Counter Culture. Park’s presentation emphasized how Counter Culture purchases coffee on a relationship basis, and how trust is the driving force behind the quality in the coffees produced. He isolated specific steps the producer took to grow and process the coffee, which was an experimental lot between Counter Culture and the mill of Buziraguhindwa in Burundi. Park’s previous awards include third place in the 2011 Northeast Regional Barista Competition and third place in the 2012 Northeast Barista Regional Competition.

At the Brewers Cup, competitors were judged in two rounds by skilled coffee tasters. The first round was a blind tasting; the competitors all brewed the same coffee on their chosen manual brewing devices. Those who advanced to the second round brewed and presented their chosen coffee to the judges’ panel. Jonathan competed with a light, citrusy, and sweet “washed” coffee from Idido, Ethiopia, roasted by Counter Culture. His presentation focused on new discoveries in coffee, both in brewing and experience, and the change in aromatics, acidity, and flavor development throughout each stage of temperature change as the coffee cooled. His previous awards include first place in the 2013 Southeast Regional Brewers Cup and second place in the 2013 U.S. Brewers Cup.

Open to the public and free to attend, the event also hosted opportunities for attendees to learn more about the world of specialty coffee and to taste coffee from local and regional roasters.


About Counter Culture Coffee

Founded in 1995, Counter Culture Coffee is the much-loved coffee roaster dedicated to finding and bringing to market the most exciting and delicious coffees in the world. The company’s vision is to pursue coffee perfection by creating partnerships dedicated to environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability throughout the coffee chain, improving the natural environment and operating efficiently to minimize environmental impact. Counter Culture has eight training centers across the country including locations in New York; Chicago; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Asheville, N.C.; Atlanta; and Durham, N.C., with a new training center and roastery set to open in Emeryville, Calif., in 2014. Served in some of the country’s top restaurants, Counter Culture Coffee is available in coffee shops, specialty grocers and online at


About the Specialty Coffee Association of America

The Specialty Coffee Association of America is the governing body of the United States Coffee Championships (USCC) – the Licensed National Body for WCE (World Coffee Events). SCAA’s United States Coffee Championships and Regional Competitions, through their focus on excellence, encourage and recognize professional achievement in the art and skill of espresso beverage preparation and service. To learn more, visit:

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