today was the semi-finals of the USBC.
i don't know yet who advanced to the finals and to be honest couldn't even begin to try and handicap it.
my feelings are that there are maybe 10 people who right now could be considered candidates to win it all.
but there are only 6 spots in the finals.
in other words, there are going to be 4 very good baristas who don't get to the finals this year.
overall, the skill level (especially when it comes to presentation and demonstration of knowledge of coffee) has jumped dramatically.
a couple quick photos (thanks to Valerie)...