It used to be you pulled a lever and coffee came out, and it was usually burnt. These days, being a barista is as competitive as being a professional chef. High-stakes tournaments pit barista against barista to see who can make the fastest, most flawless, and most creative concoctions. Twenty-three-year-old Katie Carguilo, of DC’s Murky Coffee, is on her way to her third competition. If she wins the Regionals, she goes to the Nationals, a.k.a. the United States Barista Championship.

CHOW talked with Carguilo before the tournament to get a read on her strategy. Strangely calm, she still hadn’t nailed down her signature drink, which incorporates tricky whipped gelato.

CHOW is following Carguilo’s progress on the road to barista greatness.

Katie Carguilo making her signature drink.
Katie making her signature drink.

2007 Barista Competition Poster
The poster for the 2007 competition.

Katie Carguilo photograph by Chris Owens.

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