Attention: Coffee Lovers

Caffeine lovers get ready, it’s finally here. The U.S. Barista Championship or USBC, the battle to the death for baristas nationwide. The USBC is the official United States competition designed to highlight the craft of the barista and takes place today, April 19-22, 2012 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Competitors from around the nation will meet to whip, brew and froth their way to the top in hopes of obtaining the championship title. But getting to the top is not for the faint of heart. Getting there involves  lots of coffee and lots of coffee making skills. Each challenger will have to prepare and serve four sets of espressos, cappuccinos and original signature drinks within a 15-minute timeframe. USBC-certified judges, including one head judge, two technical judges and four sensory judges will then carefully evaluate and score each of the contenders, focusing on station cleanliness, taste, beverage presentation, technical skills and total impression.

Held in conjunction with the SCAA’s 24th Annual Exposition or world’s largest coffee trade show at the Oregon Convention Center, this annual event is preceded by six regional events leading up to the USBC. The top six finalists from each region will earn a spot to compete in the U.S. Championship. The last standing barista will receive the highest national honor for a barista, a trophy and an all-expenses paid trip from his or her hometown to the 2012 World Barista Championship, June 12-15, 2012 in Vienna, Austria.

Also taking place at the Oregon Convention Center is the USBC Brewers Cup. Introduced in 2011, this competition is meant to recognize and celebrate the art of manual coffee brewing. The winner will also go on to represent the U.S. in the 2012 World Brewers Cup Championship in Vienna this June.

The 2012 USBC and Brewers Cup are just a few of the many highlights at SCAA’s 24 Annual Exposition. The event also includes the United States Cup Tasters Championship, Roasters Choice Competition, Coffees of the Year (COTY) Competition, skill-building courses and lectures, and an extensive show floor. Tickets for the Activities Hall only, where the competitions are held, are available for $10. Tickets for the trade show are available online  here. And you can check out the US Barista Championship streaming here.