Words by Leah Stacy | Above photo by Steve Carter
This week, two coffee shops integral to Rochester’s third wave scene will be represented at the U.S. Coffee Championships Qualifying Event in Kansas City.
If you know anything about specialty coffee on a national level, this qualifying event is a pretty big deal. First of all, a limited number of participants are chosen – so you have to be selected before you can even qualify. Secondly, it’s the golden ticket, so to speak, to the United States Coffee Championships held in Atlanta this April. The Atlanta competition will crown a winning barista, roaster and brewer (as in beans, not beers).
But before Atlanta can happen, Fuego Coffee Roasters owner Tony Colon and Joe Bean Coffee Roasters barista Adam Solomon must compete in the Eastern Conference U.S. Barista Regional Qualifiers. And they’ve been chosen along with 98 other baristas from 31 states and Washington, D.C.
So, yeah – pretty big deal.
Let’s meet these hometown coffee heroes. (Go ahead and play this now.)
Tony Colon got his start at Java’s more than a decade ago and opened Fuego with his wife, Renee, in August 2013. Since the opening of their cafe on Liberty Pole Way in the East End neighborhood, the Colons have added a second location on the Monroe Community College campus, built a seating area at their original location and provided coffee for events at many other venues, including Black Button Distilling in the Market District and Makers Gallery and Studio in NOTA. They also operate a roaster on St. Paul Street and provide wholesale coffee to several outlets. Colon was recently featured as one of CITY Newspaper’s 10 Rochesterians Doing Great Things Behind the Scenes. This will be his third time participating in the barista competition.
Adam Solomon, a barista at Joe Bean Coffee Roasters on University Avenue, was on the competition waiting list until late last week but received word on January 29 that he’d be competing. Joe Bean opened in 2011, and is considered by many to be the leader of the third wave coffee movement in the region. The Joe Bean crew, headed by Kathy Turiano, roasts its coffee beans in-house using a profiling method (they also serve a ‘Spro Bomb, which is exactly what a Jägerbomb wishes it could be).
The competition begins tomorrow, February 2, at 11:40 a.m. and runs until Friday, February 5, at 8 p.m. Colon and Solomon will compete on Thursday and Friday.
Good luck, Adam and Tony! Rochester is already proud of you!